The Toronto Blue Jays started their 2017 Major League Baseball season out disastrously. The Blue Jays stood at 2-11 after 13 games and 6-17 after 23 games, which put the team in a deep hole after just two dozen games of the 162-game regular season.
Still not at .500 yet, Toronto is nevertheless playing better and giving itself a shot at contending in the American League East.
On Sunday, Kevin Pillar the defensive stalwart in center field was the offensive hero with a walk-off homer against the Seattle Mariners.
Earlier in Sunday’s game, Pillar made what has become common for him, a leaping catch to add to his many fine defensive plays during his career.
Sunday’s homer by Pillar was his fifth of the season and he is now batting .314. Last season Pillar hit just 7 home runs and batted just .266 and in 2015 hit 12 homers with a .278 batting average. His power and average thus far are numbers never before seen put up by the defensive stalwart.
Reasons exist to give baseball experts the feeling that the current breakout by Pillar offensively is the real thing. Pillar is known for making contact, as many players can do, but not everyone is able to drive the ball with much consistency.
Pillar at this point is doing just that. His harder contact has led to an increase in production which has helped Toronto turn its season around early enough to be competitive.
In January, Pillar turned 28, and is at the age when several players experience an offensive career year. He has helped Toronto overcome a poor start by veteran Jose Bautista as well as injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson.
Bautista, Tulowitzki and Donaldson have combined this season for a +0.3 WAR in the team’s first 38 games.
Nevertheless, even with the poor play to start the season from those three veteran stars, the Blue Jays have won 7 of their past 10 games overall to raise their record to 17-22.
Yes, the Blue Jays remain in last place in the AL East but are just 7 games out of first, one game from fourth place and 3 games from third place.
With 123 games to go, the Blue Jays have plenty of time to bounce back and Pillar seems to be helping not only with his usual defensive prowess but at the plate as well.