Jose Bautista playing against the Yankees

For the Blue Jays to have any shot of making the post-season in 2017, they’re going to need their best paid players to start playing like they can. (Photo courtesy of Arturo Pardavila)

Toronto’s three highest paid players are Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and Jose Bautista.  Combined, they make $58 million, or roughly 57% of what the Blue Jays have committed to their position players.  And yet, as a group, they’re hitting for a piddly .228 AVG.

Three players making well over half of what Toronto is paying its position players, and they’ve only accounted for 21% of Toronto’s hits, 26% of the runs, 22% of the home runs, and 21% of the RBI’s.

Everyone had such high expectations for Tulowitzki when he was acquired from Colorado back in 2015.  With Colorado, he hit for an impressive .299 AVG, and was considered one of the best all-around players in the National League.  What’s happened with Tulowitzki since he began playing with Toronto is evidence enough of just how much of an advantage a player gains when hitting in Colorado compared to everywhere else in the league.

Despite how Tulowitzki was able to benefit from playing all those years at Coors Field, it still shouldn’t explain why his AVG has dropped 50 points from what he did with the Rockies compared to what he’s hit so far with the Blue Jays.  Since joining Toronto, Tulowitzki has a .249 AVG, and even considering the disadvantages of hitting in Toronto over Colorado, he should still be a far cry better than a player who hits .250.

After 2017, the Blue Jays have Russell Martin under contract for another two years.  Since joining Toronto, Martin has hit for a .234 AVG, way off his lifetime mark of .254.  It’s safe to say Martin’s strongest attribute is his ability to get the most out of a pitching staff, but the reason he’s making more money than any other catcher in the American League is because of his ability to hit, in addition to his skill of handling pitchers.

During his best years when with the Dodgers and Pirates, Martin was a force at the plate and could do things rarely seen from a catcher.  Even though Martin is starting to get up there in years, Toronto needs to begin seeing a level of production more on par to what he was doing while playing in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

Being the oldest player of the three, perhaps it’s a bit more understandable why Bautista has been struggling like he has offensively in 2017.  That being said, this is still a player who had 40 HR and 114 RBI just two years ago.  From a physical standpoint, Bautista has held up incredibly well.  In fact, most of what he’s accomplished in his career has happened after he turned 30.  When it comes to his offense, Bautista unfortunately isn’t the player he was five years ago, or even two years ago for that matter.  Yet he’s still up their trying to hit the ball 450 ft on each and every swing.

What Bautista was able to learn and apply about hitting back in 2010 is truly a remarkable story of a player transforming himself into something great.  Considering his current struggles, it might be in his best interest to once again reevaluate his approach at the plate in order to adapt his game to the player he is today, rather than trying to be the player he was during his best years.

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