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Echoes from 527: The battle for Left Field

One of the biggest question marks going in to Spring Training this year is who will break camp as the Left Fielder for the Blue Jays in 2012. Snider vs Thames.

Both Outfielders have shown tremendous potential in their brief stints with the Blue Jays. Both players have absolutely mashed in the minors, Thames .308/.385/.535 – Snider .306/.375/.522 and both bat from the left side of the plate eliminating a platoon scenario vs left handed pitching.

At the time when Thames was drafted by the Blue Jays in  2008, Snider was a little over a month away from making his Major League debut with the club in which he hit .301/.338/.466 with 2 HR’s.

In the years following, Snider has been plagued with inconsistencies at the dish that have resulted in the young prospect being bounced between the Major and Minor League levels seemingly at will. As Gregg Zaun pointed out last season, Snider has never been given a full consecutive 500 AB’s in the Bigs despite talk of him staying up regardless of the struggles.

Understandably, both Gaston and Farrell had a Major League ball club to run and a Win/loss record, injuries and pressure can certainly stand in the way of player development however the way Snider has been sent up and down can (at times) seem unfair to his progression as Major League regular.

2011 presented a problem most Major League Managers and GM’s dream of. With Snider free falling at the plate he was swapped with Eric Thames who at the time was destroying Minor League pitching hitting .352 with 45 RBI and 7 HR’s for AAA Vegas.

Thames would go on to hit .262 with 12 Home Runs and 37 RBI for Toronto in 2011. For the first time, Snider’s future with the Blue Jays would be challenged by another player looking to take his place as the next up and coming star for the club.

Snider responded to his demotion by re tooling his swing with the assistance of AAA hitting coach Chad Mottola and ended up finishing the season with a .327 BA to go with a greatly improved .394 OBP.

This sets the stage for what could turn out to be one of the most entertaining spring battles in recent Blue Jays memory as the 2 fight for a spot on the roster. The term “Sample Size” comes to mind as in my opinion, 1 month of Grapefruit League action may not be enough time to truly gauge whether or not one player is more suited for the big league team over the other.

Below is a stripped down system of gauging the 2 Outfielder’s individual performances based on some of the most basic statistics one can gather by reading box scores and listening to radio broadcasts.

Keep in mind that this system will not show every aspect that Farrell and the rest of the coaching staff will be looking for this spring as they make their decision as to who heads north with the team. The fields are different, the Pitching is watered down and the weather can change the outcome of any game. All of these factors can play in to a player’s performance in the spring.

This is a completely unbiased scoring system that should provide some insight in to what’s going on down in Florida with regards to the Left Field battle. This is a purely offense based perspective.


The Breaks:

Hits – .5                                Run Scored – 1               Base on Balls – .5

Double – 1                           RBI – 1

Triple – 1.5                          Stolen Base – 1

Home Run – 2                     Outfield Assist – .5


First 10 (ish) games:


Saturday March 3rd vs Pittsburgh

Snider – 0/1

Thames– 2/3, 1 Run scored, Home Run & 2 RBI

                                                                                                                        Thames 6 – Snider 0

Sunday March 4th vs Pittsburgh

 Snider – 2/4, Stolen Base, 1 Run scored, Double & 3 RBI. Outfield Assist.

Thames- 0/0

                                                                                                                     Thames 6 – Snider 7.5

Monday March 5th vs Detroit.

 Snider – 0/0

Thames– 0/3

                                                                                                                     Thames 6 – Snider 7.5

Tuesday March 6th vs Philadelphia

 Snider – 0/3, Outfield Assist

Thames- 0/1

                                                                                                                         Thames 6 – Snider 8

Wednesday March 7th vs Boston / Pittsburgh

Snider – 1/4, Run Scored, Home Run & 2 RBI. Outfield Assist

Thames– 0/3

                                                                                                                      Thames 6 – Snider 14

Thursday March 8th vs NYY

 Snider – 1/3, Run Scored, Home Run & 1 RBI  .

Thames– 1/2

                                                                                                              Thames 6.5 – Snider 18.5

Friday March 9th vs Houston

Snider – 0/0

Thames– 1/2, 2 Runs Scored, RBI, Double, 2 Base on Balls.

                                                                                                                Thames 13 – Snider 18.5

Saturday March 10th vs Houston

Snider –  1/2, Run Scored, RBI, HR, Base on Balls

Thames-  0/0

                                                                                                                Thames 13 – Snider 23.5

Sunday March 11th vs ATL (2ish games)

Snider –  0/1

Thames– 1/3, RBI

                                                                                                            Thames 14.5 – Snider 23.5

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One thought on “Echoes from 527: The battle for Left Field

  1. reidprice Reply

    Love this breakdown, Andrew! Whatever decision is made it seems it will probably be a pretty difficult one for management. I wish I knew more about each of these guys’ personalities and character because I have a feeling it may end up playing a large part in deciding factor in who starts with the Jays this year.

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