11:00 PM Eastern

The curtain came down on the 2010 season for the Blue Jays in much the same fashion that the rest of the season went.  They got a terrific performance from a starting pitcher, they hit timely home runs and they won.  That’s what happened more often than not this year.

Granted, this afternoon was a little bit different in that it was played in that last game of the season pace – everybody, including the umpires, has a plane to catch and all that – so it likely wasn’t a true indication of anything.  But Marc Rzepczynski threw seven innings of four-hitter and didn’t allow an earned run while Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit two-out solo shots for the Jays’ only runs.  Perfect work from the bullpen, too, and the game finished with Shawn Camp showing everybody how it’s done – retiring the side in order in the 9th on just 10 pitches.  Who knows?  The Blue Jays could wind up with a 35 year-old closer next season.

The disappointment of the day was Jose Bautista’s failure to reach base, not that anything would necessarily have happened had he done so.  I don’t know if he was even aware that he was one stolen base shy of becoming only the third player in major-league history with a season of 50 home runs, 30 doubles, 100 walks and 10 stolen bases – the only others are Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds, arguably the two greatest hitters ever.  Still, I wonder how many players have had a season with 50 homers, 30 doubles, 100 walks and nine steals.

There’s no question that Bautista was the highlight of this season.  I was adamant this spring that the Jays should have given Randy Ruiz his everyday job – couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t keep Bautista on the bench to get a look at a guy who had never had the chance to fail at the major-league level, but man, were they right.  Bautista was phenomenal, and if the Jays had been in a pennant race at all over the second half of the season, he’d be a shoo-in for MVP.

The starting pitching, which so many thought would be so lacking this season, wound up being incredible.  Brandon Morrow was the wild card here, most figured he’d be at least a two- or three-year project, but he continued to throw strikes just as he did last September, and was a revelation.  Morrow and Bautista both had their games click in September of 2009, really for the first time, and both carried it over into this year.  Can they do it again?  If they can, the Blue Jays could be even better next season.

Vernon Wells wound up with strong numbers, despite doing nothing for almost a third of the season.  From June 25th to August 20th, over 46 games, Wells hit .235/.292/.382 with four home runs.  Over the rest of the season (116 games), he hit .288/.347/.574 with 27 homers.  Strangely enough, the Blue Jays winning percentage was actually higher during Wells’ dry spell.

Bautista, John Buck and, when he was here, Alex Gonzalez had career years offensively.  Adam Lind and Aaron Hill – we hope – had the opposite of that.  In the overall, the Blue Jays led the league in home runs by a wide margin and led in slugging as well, but they finished in a pack at the bottom of the league in batting average and on-base percentage, one that was ahead of only the Seattle Mariners.  If their pitching continues to improve – and they should do far better from the 5th spot, at the very least – they need to find a way to get more runners on base so that they can have a chance to win some more games.

Now, I don’t think that 2011 is going to be “the year” for the Jays, I think it’s going to be another year of building and developing, breaking in guys like J.P. Arencibia, Travis Snider, David Purcey and more into bigger and more important roles, but I still think they’re going to be a good team, and fun and exciting to watch.

Of course, who knows what changes are afoot over the off-season?  That’s going to be interesting to watch as well, and choosing a manager will be the first step.  We’ll be watching and reporting on that with great interest.  I still say I want Butter to get a shot.

It was a tremendously fun year.  We got to see one of the greatest games ever pitched, we got to see the greatest offensive season a Blue Jay has ever had, we got to see the greatest major-league debut any hitter has ever had, we got to see the Jays tie one league record with six doubles in an inning and another with six homers in a loss and we got to bite our fingernails as a Blue Jay starting pitcher took a no-hitter into the 7th inning an astounding FIVE times!  Heck, we even got to go through the Nick Green era – remember that? It was a fun ride, made that much moreso by having all of you along for it.

We get to do the fun stuff – to go to the games, to talk to the people about whom everyone is talking and from whom everyone wants to hear – but we only get to do it because you’re out there to listen, read, comment and phone in.  So thank you.  I couldn’t have done it without you, and I look forward to continued interaction during our playoff coverage along the good old Fan Radio Network!

It’s hard to imagine that I won’t be going to another baseball game until March.  That sucks.

Here’s the final edition of The JaysTalk – 2010 version – for your listening pleasure:

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And here’s the transcript of this afternoon’s “Miked Up LIVE!”:

13 Responses to “Turn Out The Lights”
  1. 1.

    I’d probably go with John Olerud ’93 as greatest offensive season by a Jay (around twenty points better OPS+ than Bautista ’10). I think it would’ve taken a postseason berth just to get Bautista seriously in the mix for MVP. The .260 average and the “fluke” label would be hard to get over.

    - Cincinnatus C.
  2. 2.

    Thanks for another great year, Mike; and thanks to Alan and Jerry as well – phenomenal coverage all year as usual. We Blue Jays fans are truly spoiled by the quality of the radio coverage!

    - Peter Miller
  3. 3.

    Mike, wanted to thank you for a great year. I’ve appreciated your knowledgeable commentary. You’ve always based your critism and praise on actual “data”, which is not always the case with others.
    Cheers!

    - Implied Oral Consent
  4. 4.

    A year delivering a record HR hitter and I was amazed his final rbi total to go along with it.

    A Jays record and near ML record for HR overall but amassed as a YEAM total since the only notable number individually was Bautista’s.

    Four +/- 15 game winners is very rare on even a championship team.

    Their pitchers struck out 1,184 batters, matching the 2008 club record.

    The bullpen was adequate to good and the closer, although keeping our blood pressure up, in the end got the job done the vast majority of the time.

    A nice bounceback year for Wells that was unexpected.

    Although the whole team lacked in hitting for average, does it just come down to Lind and Hill hitting in the low 200′s and that lousy June team record that stopped the Jays for at least challenging for a playoff spot?

    If so, we can dream about 4 eighteen game winners and far better years for Hill and Lind to at least approach the playoffs.

    Maybe 2012 is a reality???

    - Gary
  5. 5.

    Mike, further to the starting pitching, you may not have noticed an interesting fact (or is it “set of facts”?), to wit:
    Ricky Romero led the staff in IP, with 210; Shaun Marcum led in ERA (3.64 to RR 3.67); Brett Cecil led in wins (15), and Brendan Morrow led in K’s (178 to RR 174). How cool is that?

    - Norm
  6. 6.

    You are right that 2011 is unlikely to be the year the Jays finally take a run at a play-off spot; there are just too many holes,question marks and bad contracts (Vernon Wells and possibly Hill and Lind). And not to give J.P.’s claim that the AL East makes it impossible to compete any credit for his poor performance as GM, but he is right; though the problem is compounded by an unbalanced scheduled when the AL East teams play outside their own division.

    I broke down the schedule for each of Toronto, Boston, NYY, TB, Texas and Minnesota and calculated strength of schedule based on the win totals for each of their opponents. The results expressed in oppenents wins were:

    Toronto:83.64
    NYY:80.77
    Boston: 82.28
    TB: 80.90
    Minn: 79.49
    Texas: 78.73

    When you isolate for games played against teams outside of the AL East the numbers look like:

    Toronto: 45.19
    NYY: 43.43
    Boston: 44.28
    TB:43.68

    Simply put the Jays had the toughest schedule in the AL East which put them at a disadvantage this year. Schedules change each year so perhaps next year the Jays may have the weakest schedule. But it does point to the problem in MLB that an unbalanced schedule disadvantages some teams to the point that to compete all the stars must align.

    Mike, you are welcome to the spreadsheet if you want it. Send me an email address to which it can be posted.

    - Steven Z
  7. 7.

    Hi Mike!
    Great season overall. One with much promise going forward.Although I agree that 2011 isn’t “the year” I think it will be as exciting and even more successful than this one.I too am pulling for Butter to get his shot.If not him,I think Luis Rivera has earned his chance. With either of these guys the Jays would do well.I think their connection with the players,especially the younger ones would serve well.If Bruce Walton doesn’t come back it will be a shame.He’s done a terrific job as pitching coach.
    How about the classy move by the Twins for Cito? Makes it hard for a Jays fan not to pull for them in the pllayoffs. However, it should be of no surprise as the Twins have always been a classy organization.
    Thanks for your great insights and Jays talk this year!!!!
    Now lets hope the Twins can go out and kick some Yankee butt!!

    - Terry
  8. 8.

    Great Job Mike!
    It was a fun season, to be sure & your work helped me enjoy it that little bit more.
    Take care through the off-season.
    Thanks,
    N

    - Nick
  9. 9.

    Thanks for all your work again this year, Mike.

    - Mark Golden
  10. 10.

    The Jays did OK this season when you look at the only stats that ultimately matter in any given year (Won/Lost Record and Playoff status).

    The Jays finished the season 85-77, good for 7th place among the 14 American League teams. This is similar to what they’ve done in recent seasons save for last year (87 wins in 2006, 83 wins in 2007, 86 wins in 2008).

    Toronto sports fans in general may get excited about the Jays if they are seriously contending for a playoff spot in September. The Jays are a young team, but most other clubs who don’t make the playoffs usually say the same thing. Talk is cheap, it’s wins and playoff appearances that count. We’ll see what 2011 brings.

    - Jim
  11. 11.

    Just a quick note, and maybe this has been mentioned before, but if Alex Gonzalez had stayed, the Jays may have set the record for players with 20 or more homeruns at 8. But, I am much happier having Yunel.

    - blha
  12. 12.

    “Still, I wonder how many players have had a season with 50 homers, 30 doubles, 100 walks and nine steals.”

    I was curious, too. So, I looked it up.

    The answer is nobody. None of the other 50+ homer guys have come as close as Bautista.

    A few achieved the steals mark, but were often well short in the BB category.

    A-Rod came the closest in 2007. He was only five walks shy. Mickey Mantle had enough homers, BB & steals twice. But was short on doubles both times (22 & 16).

    Most similar to Bautista was Hack Wilson’s 191-rbi year (1930). Hack had all the categories except steals, too. He only stole three.

    It’s interesting to see how rare the combo of power and the willingness to take the extra base is.

    - Rome
  13. 13.

    Mike,

    Thanks for another great season. I think it was a St Louis fan who called the post game show to tell you how good the Toronto broadcast team was. How many broadcast teams get a response like that from an opposing fan? We are spoiled by the quality of our Blue Jays radio coverage!

    Enjoy the offseason…you’re the best!

    - Steve in HH
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