MLB Handicapping: as Lawrie Shines Blue Jays Totals Rise
by Adam Richard - 7/3/2012
The Toronto Blue Jays made a change to the batting order in early June, implementing super sophomore Brett Lawrie in the lead-off position. Since that time, Lawrie has improved in every offensive statistical category and, in turn, has led this Toronto lineup to improve in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while increasing the walk percentage and decreasing the strikeout percentage.
Lawrie, over the first two months of the season, had walked only 3.85 percent of the time, while striking out 16.17 percent. Since he has taken over the lead-off spot, those numbers have changed drastically, with his walk rate moving up to 7.05 percent and the strikeout percentage dropping all the way down to 9.42 percent. Also, his OBP has improved by 50 points and his slugging has jumped up over 100 points.
Since the lineup change, the Blue Jays have scored 5.21 runs per game, as opposed to the previous two months when they scored 4.89 runs. Lawrie isn’t the only reason why the Blue Jays have improved, but he is truly living the cliché of a lead-off man setting the tone for the team.
No team in baseball has scored more runs than Toronto over the last 30 days (150 runs). And that trend should continue as long as Lawrie is taking pitches and working counts with his power potential at the top of the lineup.
The lineup isn’t susceptible to lefties or righties either. With Lawrie, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Toronto power bats have the ability to dominate power lefties, while Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson and the returned Adam Lind can offer nice splits against right-handed starters.
Toronto games have scored over 10 runs in 12 of the last 16 games, and that trend should continue as they feast on the Royals pitching staff and then travel to the home run happy U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago amid a Midwestern heat wave.
A smart player will take advantage of these trends over the final days before the all-star break, working that “over” line extra hard in Toronto’s games. Even the Chris Sale game scheduled for Sunday should have a reasonable totals line available with Sale’s previous dominance. This should allow the smart player to continue to run with the over since this will be in a hitter’s park during the afternoon with two power-hitting lineups.
Toronto’s Opposing Starting Pitcher Projections
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