How the emergence of Raimel Tapia reconstructs the Blue Jays’ trading deadline needs

The idea that the Toronto Blue Jays lineup is too right-handed has been widespread for over half a year.

In 2015, Ben Revere supplemented the fielder core, built around Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, Josh Donaldson Troitrowitzki, and Russell Martin, hours before the trading deadline.

Today, a group led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and Alejandro Kirk has triggered a story that Andrew Benintendi may be out of stock.

In the meantime, the team made a 2017 All-Star appearance from Justin Smoak and got some 2020 flashes from Lowditeres, but the need for a left-handed bat was always felt.

Rather quietly, the need is beginning to become less serious. It begins with Cavan Biggio, who has recently become stronger and has wRC + (119) throughout the season in the same neighborhood as Springer (123) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (121).

In the last six weeks or so, the club has won a surprisingly strong turn at bat from the left, courtesy of Raimel Tapia. Thanks to the miserable start of the season and some rough but perhaps justified defensive indicators, Tapia’s in-season numbers look like an ugly cocktail of punchless attacks and poor defense.

The 28-year-old Net’s defenses haven’t been seen yet, but it’s clear that his bats have arrived. Since May 24, when the Blue Jays started their eight-game streak on track, Tapia has significantly reduced .297 / .324.465. It’s easy to dismiss such a quality run as a hit luck, but his BABIP during that span (.341) is similar to his career number (.331).

Interestingly, the power he showed, mainly the variety of gaps, is very unusual for him. The .168 ISO in Tapia’s last 32 games is the best ISO he has posted in such a span in the last three seasons.

Former Colorado Rocky will never be known as a slugger, but it’s clear that he recently found a bit more bang on his bat. According to Baseball Savant, only five batters (+ 7.9%) had a better hard hit rate than Tapia between 2021 and 2022.

Speedy outfielders are currently the best in their careers with hard hit rates, average exit speeds, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, xwOBA, sometimes quite different.

These aren’t the world’s leading numbers, but the quality of contact is important if the entire offensive profile is based on getting the ball into play. Tapia seems to be better than traditional statistics.

Some of them can be explained fairly easily by the luck / early season dead ball issue. This year, Tapia hit 12 outs with a ball over 100 mph and xSLG over .500. In other words, it is a ball that is expected to be a long hit based on the quality of contact. In a combination of his previous three seasons (1,206 PA), he found only 11 such balls.

Even at best, Tapia will never surprise anyone with his bat, but he’s starting to look like a player traded by the Blue Jays — with a slight sprinkling of untapped potential. .. He still hits a lot of balls on the ground (50.0%), but not as high as 2021 (67.4%). His pull rate is still unobtrusive (35.7%), but still much higher than he managed in the last two years (27.3%). The quality of his contact is arguably the best he has ever produced, even if he is not rewarded for it.

After all, Visio and Tapia aren’t going to scare the hearts of hostile managers or stop the parade of right-handed rescuers that the Blue Jays look like. Benintendi will be a great addition to this team, and if Toronto pushes some chips in the middle of the table to get him as a rental, they’ll be better for it. That said, the Blue Jays are getting more quality from the left than they had recently imagined, and Tapia is starting to provide a more stable floor in the outfield — at least with a gently intriguing ceiling. increase.

How the emergence of Raimel Tapia reconstructs the Blue Jays’ trading deadline needs

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