My fearless prediction is that the Blue Jays are going to suck really bad in 2018 because they’re super old. I know that isn’t great news if you’re a Jays fan.
Despite being a Blue Jays fan, I feel comfortable making this prediction because
- I am quite certain I’m right, and
- If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy to be wrong ‘cause I don’t want them to suck.
Now, you might be thinking “Just saying they suck is not the kind of brilliant analysis I’m looking for,” but I’m basing this on a central fact: they are very old. The 2017 Blue Jays had the oldest lineup in the American League. I am not totally sure how Baseball Reference figures this out, but they say it’s true and just looking at the team they sure do look old. They’re slow, that’s for sure. The entire team hit five triples all year. That is a new all-time major league record for triple-hitting patheticness, by a fair margin; the previous record was 11. 41 different players hit five triples or more all by themselves.
I was actually trying to do some analysis into this by just going through every year’s oldest team and seeing how they fared the following season, but for much of recent history, the oldest team was the Yankees every year. The Yankees spend a bajillion dollars, so they can stay at least moderately competitive. I am sure there’s a way to correlate team age to how better or worse they get while factoring out the teams that can just spend their way out of trouble, but I lack the time or math skills and anyway it’s kind of self-evident.
The REALLY good teams now – Houston, Cleveland, Los Angeles – sometimes spend a lot of money and sometimes don’t but a common factor is they have a lot of young guys they developed in house. I can’t really think of a counterexample. Even the great Yankee teams had a core of guys they developed in house.
I wrote like another 500 words analyzing this but deleted most of it because I was just restating the same thing over and over; the Jays are old and either they’re stuck with the old guy or have no great alternatives.
Now, of course, the Blue Jays in 2017 had, beyond any doubt or question, the WORST lineup in the American League; they had the worst hitting team in the league, and one of the worst fielding teams. The nature of sports and competitive balance is that bad teams get better, so there’s a fairly good chance they will get a little better just by virtue of the fact that when a team is really bad, it’s easy to find improvements. Maybe they’ll get a good right fielder, or a second baseman will stay healthy and have a good year. If a team is absolutely the best or the worst at something, that will almost never continue to be the case.
And I can’t see into the future. I am guessing Justin Smoak will be worse, but I may be wrong. Or maybe someone will hit .300 we didn’t expect, or they’ll pull off a deal where some guy you’ve never heard of becomes a star. That’s how they got Jose Bautista. Not every star is predictable.
The thing is, I just have a way of knowing when an organization is in trouble. I was a quality auditor for 15 years, which means I went into like 500 different companies to study their systems and figure out of they were getting better or worse. I am not the world’s smartest dude but I was actually really good at this job, and after awhile I could just tell. It could have been a four day audit but by lunch on Day 1, I could tell you, 99 times in a hundred, if things would go great or really crappy. I was always fair and open minded and honestly looked at the evidence but my initial impression was almost never wrong. Maybe it was that Malcolm Gladwell “blink” concept, where a person who’s become good at something just knows right away what’s going on because there’s 90 different things they unconsciously notice. (Coffee quality in the break room is a big sign, by the way.) I could just tell if a place was being held together with paper clips and angry memos.
When I look at the Blue Jays I get that gross feeling, with my auditor spidey-sense being helped along by my unnatural obsession with baseball. Nothing about this team says “Big winners next year.” Everything about them is a red flag. Old lineup, unreliable pitchers, same manager. Today the team cut a bunch pf staff, whose combined salary would not pay for two months of Kendrys Morales, the worthless lump they inexplicably signed last year.
I’m not saying they’re as bad an organization as they were ten or twelve years ago, when they clearly were not thinking more than a week ahead at any time. But I kinda wish they’d just blow it up and rebuild from scratch.
At least tickets will be easy to come by.