We’re already beginning to see the internal competition on the Blue Jays bring out the best in several players. With the emergence of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as a potential star player, its forced both Devon Travis and Aledmys Diaz to really step-up their own game in an effort to keep pace with the talented Gurriel.
Between the time that Gurriel was recalled by the Blue Jays on July 2 and his unfortunate injury on July 29, he was on a tear. Hitting for a .423 AVG that included 30 hits in just 17 games. Naturally, that sort of play hasn’t gone unnoticed by Travis and Diaz, who to their credit, have raised their level of play. Since Gurriel’s return to the big leagues in early July, Travis’ splits are .290/.347/.462, while Diaz’ aren’t too far off with .286/.304/.602.
Sometimes the best way to motivate a player is to bring in someone capable of doing an equally or dare I say better job. Two years ago, Justin Smoak was coming off a miserable year where he hit .217 and struck out 33% of the time. After such an awful performance, it’s safe to say Smoak was lucky to still have a job with the Blue Jays. During spring training in 2017, many people were calling for Rowdy Tellez to be starting for Toronto at 1st base. Alas, with the added pressure of potentially losing his job if he failed to improve, Smoak transformed into a completely different player. His transformation was so extreme, that he ended up being selected to the all-star game and also led the Blue Jays in hits, home runs, RBI, and total bases.
This internal competition taking place between Gurriel, Travis, and Diaz is bound to only heat-up what with infield prospects such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio inching closer to the big leagues. Not to mention Brandon Drury who’s on the DL with a fractured hand.
Too often what you have with big league players is they’re handed a position and become complacent because they know they’re doing a decent enough job and there isn’t anyone better than them in the organization at that position. The Blue Jays understand what they’re up against in the AL East. It isn’t going to be enough to just have talented players. If they want to start beating the Red Sox or Yankees anytime soon, they’re going to need for their players to get the absolute most out of their game.