TORONTO- In baseball, many experts measure sabremetrics and player statistics to evaluate those who in World Series Contention vs. those who are not. However, one important factor that can’t be measured and won’t show up on stat sheets is clubhouse chemistry. The recent success of the Toronto Blue Jays demonstrates the importance of such chemistry both on and off the field.
Sure professional sport teams can be stacked with all-star caliber players. And sure athletes can sign massive contracts. But building a contending team requires solid clubhouse chemistry. Clubhouse culture can rise a team to extraordinary altitudes without having the biggest payroll or most talent. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos addressed this issue by building a team using character over talent.
Since this past offseason, the Blue Jays realized the importance of bringing high character players to their game. These players are game changers who care more about winning instead of individualism. For instance, Russell Martin has the ability to receive pitches, consequently, shutting down the running game and catching players on the mound. However, technical talent is not Martin’s only skill as he is also revered in the baseball community for great leadership by both players and coaches. Similarly, Donaldson is having a career year during his first full season with the Blue Jays but its his leadership which has made a tremendous impact on the teams’ morale. He has set a great example for other players hustling on the base pats and sacrificing his body to make the difficult plays. Donaldson’s impact with his bat and glove makes him a legitimate candidate for AL MVP
Furthermore, Anthopoulos acquired even more character talent through the acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price prior to the non-wavier trade deadline. Tulowitzki took his intelligence on the field making crucial plays to help his team win – plays that Jose Reyes wouldn’t make. Price is not only the ace for the Blue Jays, he also another high character guy who influences all young pitchers. Lets not forget about LaTroy Hawkins, who also influences the bullpen as well.
All of these additions influence the team’s confidence and complement well with cornerstone players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Buehrle. Since the trade deadline, the team are 20-4.
The Blue Jays’ chemistry is undeniable. Anthopolous definitely made a smart move in choosing to build team character over tangible statistics. The Jays are proving its not about building a team with the most talented players, it’s about bringing players with high character to help win ball games. Or perhaps character is a measure of talent, and often high stats and top salaries sideline what it really means to be a quality player.
The Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs since Joe Carter hit a walk-off homerun to win the 1993 World Series. When the Blue Jays clinch the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, people should admire the importance of team chemistry and what it has meant for the Blue Jays in recent games. They are winning as a team. A team is a family and chemistry is the foundation for any family to achieve success.