This is Part 2 to Tuesday’s column. We’ll talk about the August risers in this one.
Toronto’s run isn’t shocking. I think most of us saw it coming. But no one could have predicted the amount of excitement the Blue Jays have produced in Toronto. Same for the Mets in New York. We’ll start there.
New York Mets
The week of the Trade Deadline, with that Monday being July 27th, was the week it turned for the Mets. That can be perfectly recapped here.
Since, the Mets have been 13-7, with Washington 7-14. So yeah, there’s been some shifting. The Mets now own a 4.5 game division lead over the Nationals, thanks to a better offense and more-solid defense in certain spots.
The Mets moves have worked out. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .275/.306/.435 in August, but does have a high amount of strikeouts. Kelly Johnson is performing about the same as Cespedes, including the strikeout problem. But what’s made the Mets good this season is their pitching, which has been 3rd best in the MLB this month, per WAR. The Nationals, not surprisingly, are 6th, but others problems have plagued that team.
Using stats to explain the Mets this month is hard. They’ve gotten momentum, and are carrying it to a large division lead. It’s really that simple. It helps that people are believing in them, including their owners and fans. New York’s playoff odds have soared to 69.6%, and their chances of winning the division are greater than anything else at 68.6%. Washington’s odds have plummeted, and their chances of making the playoffs lean on them winning the division.
The Mets are the other side of what I wrote Tuesday. Washington can’t say “They over-took us.”, because New York has played well when Washington hasn’t. It’s not like Washington was winning games when the Mets were. New York would’ve had to gone on a crazy streak had the Nationals kept playing at their June/July pace.
It’s too early to speculate how the Mets will fare in the playoffs, but we do know the playoffs are a crapshoot. A crapshoot that, if you have pitching, you’re more likely to succeed in. New York has pitching, and plenty of it. They’re gonna go to a six-man rotation once Steven Matz gets off the DL. Talk about resting guys for the playoffs…
Toronto Blue Jays
It’s not a shock that Toronto is where they are. A lot of people saw this coming after their trade deadline. The Blue Jays are again hitting an insane amount of home runs, with 26 in August already. They have the best ISO (Isolated Power; This is the first time I’ve used it) in the MLB at .181.
Toronto’s hitters have been so good lately, that they’re only swinging when they need to. In August, they’ve swung at 44.2% of pitches thrown to them, which is lowest in the league. That’s amazing considering their baseball’s best offense.
The Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs since 1993, which is the longest playoff drought in the MLB. The city of Toronto has been through a lot the last 10 years, with the Raptors struggles until 2013, and the Maple Leafs, well, they’re the Maple Leafs. Toronto’s sports teams haven’t won a championship since 1993, when those Blue Jays did it.
Having the Blue Jays make the postseason would be huge for Toronto and the sport. Those Blue Jays fans are insane, and for anyone who thinks baseball hasn’t made it Canada, they’re drawing in crowds (6th in the AL in attendance this season). Toronto making the playoffs this year wouldn’t only be great for their town, but possibly for Montreal.
It’s a long-shot, but if the Blue Jays can make a run, and put a country on their back through October, when most Canadians are already trapped inside their homes due to that miserable time called Winter, it could put more pressure on the MLB to get two teams there. There are people who want the Expos back. People think they can make it. I mean, crap, they’ll draw in more people than the Rays have in Tampa Bay!
Getting the Blue Jays into the postseason might have Canada more excited about them then hockey starting. OK, that’s a long shot. If that did happen, that’d be the Blue Jays PR Department’s best day in, well, forever. Could you imagine baseball beating out hockey in TV ratings in late October, when hockey’s just starting up?
Yeah, that’d be pretty cool for a lot of people. And as of right now, there’s about a 92.2% of that happening.