After a short period of doubt-inducing play, the Yankees are back on top in the American League East and sport Major League Baseball's best run differential. By a lot.
Care to guess who's got the division's second-best run differential, though?
Nope, not the Red Sox.
Nope, not the Rays.
The Toronto Blue Jays have outscored their opponents this season by 27 runs, slightly more than those latter two clubs.
Did anyone think, two months ago, that the Blue Jays would be better than the Red Sox and Rays in early June?
Well, better than the Rays, maybe. There certainly were some who were down on the Rays and some who were high on the Blue Jays, and I'm sure the Venn Diagram included an intersection that included those somes.
Are the Blue Jays for real, though?
They've got the (apparently) best hitter on the planet, which is a good start. Adam Lind's having a good season. And very, very quietly, shortstop Yunel Escobar is enjoying a fine season, especially with the bat. Add everything up, and the Jays are second in the league in scoring after finishing sixth last season (despite leading the league with 257 home runs).
Of course the Jays' pitching hasn't been nearly as good. But they've got the makings of a good rotation, especially if Kyle Drabek ever starts pitching like the Rookie of the Year candidate the punditry was expecting. And it would be nice if Brandon Morrow's strikeout-to-walk and home-run ratios gave a good talking-to to his 5.11 ERA.
Oh, and the bullpen's been pretty fantastic. Blue Jay relievers have combined for a 2.93 ERA, good for second in the league. And they're third in strikeouts, and second in strikeout-to-walk ratio. It's hard to say the bullpen's for real, exactly. If only because we're not talking about a bunch of household names. But it's also hard to say that rookie manager John Farrell isn't just one of those guys who knows how to build and deploy an effective relief corps.
Are the Blue Jays as good as the Yankees? No.
Are the Blue Jays as good as the Red Sox? Probably not.
But when a team has a +27 run differential on the 1st of June, without a bunch of players who are obviously over-performing, you sort of have to take them at least sort of seriously.
So are the Blue Jays for real?
Sort of, indeed. The above was written before Kyle Drabek and the Jays were blown out by the Indians Wednesday night. It's amazing how far south a run differential can go in one game, isn't it? And this might spell the end of Drabek's current stint in the rotation. Probably should, anyway.