Imagine if we were to have told you in the off season that after the team-wide offensive struggles in the past two seasons (R.I.P. to the careers of Mickey Brantley and Gary Denbo), five Blue Jays would get out of the gate and put up numbers that would rank them amongst the elite at their position through the month of June.
Then imagine that we told you that none of those five players were Alex Rios or Vernon Wells.
Then imagine that we were hopping on one foot when we told you this. (Actually, don't bother with that last one. We were just checking to see if you were paying attention.)
Through the team's first 71 games, the Jays have five players posting an OPS above .800, a mark that only one regular (Wells) and no qualifying batter reached for the 2008 season.
The Fab Five - Lyle Overbay (.939), Adam Lind (.915), Scott Rolen (.866), Marco Scutaro (.833), and Aaron Hill (.815) - have arguably all performed above expectations this season, but not to such an extent that you couldn't see them carrying this through to the year's end.
There are caveats, of course. Neither Overbay nor Rolen qualify for rate stats titles at this point given the amount of days they've been given off in spite of relative good health. With Cito protecting Overbay from lefties and Rolen from wear and tear, it's hard to get a real handle of what sort of offensive value they bring over the entirety of the schedule.
Mind you, Rolen's Runs Above Replacement level (RAR) is 20.7, good enough for sixth best amongst Major League third basemen, while Overbay's 17.1 places him between Ryan Howard and Joey Votto in that same category. (Not that we totally understand what any of that means...like Drew at Ghostrunners noted, we're not that good at math.)
Why are the Fab Five so Fab? Raw Power!
Speaking of that two-week old Ghostrunners post, Drew points out the great numbers now being generated from MLBAM's Hit f/x data, and demonstrates that the Jays really are hitting the ball as hard as anyone. When Fangraphs looked at the initial speeds of the ball coming off the bats for the month of April, the Jays ranked just behind Texas and Cleveland as the maddest mashers in the land.
Aaron Hill in particular hits the ball with a particularly awesome level of ultraviolence, sending the horsehide screaming off in the distance at 80.1 MPH, almost two clicks faster than the next Blue Jay, Adam Lind (78.2 MPH).
Perhaps the whistling flames shooting off the balls hit by Hill help explain one of the truly odd offensive stats this season. While Hill has hit 15 dingers to this point, he's managed just nine doubles so far, just two more than Kevin Millar. Hill leads the team with 93 hits, but is it possible that he's hitting the ball too hard, and that would be doubles are turning into singles?
The Summer of Tallet Will Scald Your Flesh
Before we forget, the Summer of Tallet continues tonight with our favorite hipster oaf taking to the mound against the Red Stockings of Johnny Feverland.
Two sweet blessings rolled into one tonight: the pitchers won't hit, meaning we won't have to watch Tallet at the bat (phew!) and he won't have to face his pitching counterpart, the slugging Micah Owings (double phew!).