The 2012 MLB season was a tumultuous one for the Toronto Blue Jays. Following consecutive 80-win seasons in 2010 and 2011, expectations were high in 2012. Unfortunately for the Jays’ faithful fans, progression was not the theme of the 2012 campaign, but rather injuries—and lots of them.
The wave of injuries started in late April, with opening-day closer Sergio Santos already going down. Initially, Santos was diagnosed with shoulder tightness and labelled each day, but it was later discovered that Santos had an inflammation in his right shoulder that required surgery, and that was the end of the season for him.
Disaster struck again in June when starting pitchers Brandon Morrow (strained left oblique), Kyle Drabek (torn ulnar collateral ligatment), and Drew Hutchison (sprained right elbow) were all placed on the long-term disabled list. Drabek and Hutchison have since undergone the dreaded “Tommy John” surgery, which has a 14- to 16-month recovery period. But sadly, the list does not end there.
Right fielder and team leader José Bautista (damaged left wrist tendon), third baseman Brett Lawrie (injured ribcage), first baseman Adam Lind (strained back), and left fielder Rajai Davis (jammed left middle finger) all spent time on the DL this year. In total, the Blue Jays placed 24 different players on the DL for an estimated sum of 733 man-games lost to injury.
To the Blue Jays’ credit, the team managed to hover around .500 until July 30 (51–51). It was not until Lawrie was placed on the DL shortly thereafter that they began to slip. After that, the Blue Jays had a miserable 22–38 record.
But injuries aside, the real downfall of the Blue Jays in 2012 was their rotation. Opening-day ace Ricky Romero slid heavily to post a 5.77 ERA, up from the much better 2.92 a year prior. The season was highlighted by a franchise record 13 consecutive losses for Romero between June 22 and September 23. The Jays’ third starter, Henderson Alvarez, did not fare much better, posting a 4.85 ERA, up from 3.53 a season ago. The cumulative ERA for the Blue Jays’ rotation in 2012 is 4.64—their worst since 2002.
From an offence standpoint, the season was a rollercoaster ride filled with peaks and valleys. Before the all-star break, the Blue Jays produced 430 runs. Following the all-star break, their run’ total dropped to 286.
The season was not all bad, though. Coming from a disappointing 2011 season, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion exceeded all expectations and recorded 42 HR and 106 RBI, with a slash line of .280/.384/.557.
On the opposite corner of the diamond, third baseman Brett Lawrie had a quietly successful rookie season, and proved to even his most skeptical detractors that he is capable of playing third base defensively. In fact, according to his defensive runs saved (an advanced metric that records every fielder’s defensive proficiency relative to his peers), Lawrie had no defensive equal in 2012. In the bullpen, Casey Janssen turned in another brilliant season, this time in the closer’s role, converting 22 out of a possible 25 save attempts and posting a 2.54 ERA. Janssen’s bullpen mate Steve Delabar was also brilliant, recording a 3.38 ERA with the Blue Jays and pitching an astonishing 46 strikeouts in 29 innings. But besides these standout performances, there were very few successes for the Blue Jays this season.
Fans’ opinions of the Blue Jays’ season were predominantly negative. “The pitching was disappointing, and the squad appeared to lack team unity,” says Fazle Rablee, a fourth-year sciences major.
“This past year has been one to forget,” adds Shayan Yassaei, a second-year life sciences student. “I could barely watch games in the second half. Hopefully next season will be better.”
Despite all these negatives, it is important to remember why there was so much optimism at the start of the season. The Blue Jays are a young squad, flush with talent at the minor league level; with some continued health and production, the Jays’ big bats will allow them to take the next step towards first place in the AL. It is also crucial that management loosen the purse strings and make a concerted effort to acquire pitching help on the FA market, or they risk another disappointing season.