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Ferguson: Hitting homers hasn't been the answer for the Jays

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Scott Ferguson
11/18/2013 12:29:56 PM
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If you go back over the past five seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the top home run slugging teams in the American League. Part of that is due to talent and part is due to the ballpark they play in. Yet, despite being right up there with home run leaders every season over that span, they haven't been able to end their post-season drought that extends back to their last appearance in 1993.

Since 2009, the Blue Jays have finished in the top five in home runs every season. 2009 was the peak year for round-trippers over the last five seasons in the junior circuit with 2,560. The Yankees led the league with 244 homers, well above the league average of 183 per team. The Blue Jays finished with 209.

2009 was the only season in the last five that the team with the most homers in the American League won the Fall Classic, as the Yankees beat the Phillies for their fifth title in 14 seasons.

The Yankees also led in 2011 with 222 homers and 2012 with 245. They also hit over 200 homers every season in the last five except 2013, when they were devastated by injuries.

Over the last five years, the Blue Jays have hit 209 homers in 2009 (4th), 257 in 2010 (1st) , 186 in 2011 (5th), 198 in 2012 (5th) and 185 in 2013 (4th).

One team that has benefitted a little bit from a power surge has been Oakland. In 2011, the A's only hit 114 homers. In 2012, they jumped to 195 (6th) in the A.L. and followed that by climbing to third in the league last season with 186. Of course, they won the American League West each of the last two campaigns.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Blue Jays could and should sacrifice some of their power to boost the starting rotation.

Under new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, the Jays are going to attempt to use the whole field and just drive the ball into the gaps as opposed to just trying to pull the ball for home runs. Trying a different approach and attempting to cut down the strikeouts can't hurt.

There has been a lot of talk about home runs diminishing over the past few years. As I mentioned off the top, in 2009 there were 2,560 home runs hit. The next year, the total dropped off to 2,209 - a decrease of 351. From that point on, though, over the past three seasons, home runs are on the rise again. In 2013, the total was 2,504 in the American League - just 54 off the 2009 total.
 
There is another pitcher out there on the rumour mill that the Blue Jays might take a run at. The Chicago Cubs are reportedly trying to get right hander Jeff Samardzija's name on an extension but if he balks, they could consider dealing him over the winter since he could become a free agent after 2015.

Samardzija is a bit of a late bloomer at 28 years old. In just his second year as a full-time Cubs starter in 2013, he went 8-13 on a bad ball club with a 4.34 ERA. But he's got what everyone is looking for; durability - 213.2 innings last season - and ability to strike guys out with 214 against just 78 walks.

The trouble for the Jays is that Arizona, Washington and the Pittsburgh are also rumoured to be after him, and all three appear to have deeper farm systems flush with the kind of talent the Cubs would want in return.

Edwin Encarnacion (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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