Brandon Drury has looked absolutely brutal at the plate for most of 2019.
That statement may sound harsh, but there’s nothing hyperbolic about it considering the .147/.194/.250 line the Toronto Blue Jays infielder brought into Saturday’s action in Oakland.
Drury hasn’t just been ineffective, he’s seemed totally lost at times. The 11 looking strikeouts he’s accumulated are tied for the league lead. During his worst stretch — six games between April 6 and April 14 — he struck out in half his trips to the plate and swung at exactly the same percentage (42.5%) of pitches inside and outside the strike zone. That’s about as bad as it gets.
But prior to the Blue Jays’ 10-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, he started to show some life. In his previous four games he hit a respectable .213/.314/.500 and found the strike zone again, with two walks and four strikeouts in 16 trips to the plate. He was even swinging at pitches inside the zone (73.1%) and outside the zone (30.0) at normal rates again.
That’s a small sample size, sure, but it was evidence of a return to some semblance of offensive functionality — especially considering he hit his first home run of the season on Friday:
If he was showing promising signs of coming out of his funk in recent days, Drury made his escape from rock bottom official on Saturday. The third baseman came a triple shy of the cycle with a 3-for-4 day that helped drive the Blue Jays’ offensive explosion.
The most obvious positive sign was Drury going deep for the second consecutive game. After taking a Mike Fiers fastball off the plate that was called a strike, he went with a heater on the outside edge and pounded it the opposite way.
Neither of his other hits were as impressive, but they more subtly demonstrated that Drury was stepping out from under the shadow of his early season slump. Because the biggest problem the 26-year-old has faced all year has been the inability to keep his strikeouts in check, it was encouraging for the Blue Jays to see him get a pair of two-strike hits.
That’s especially true given that passivity has been a major part of his troubles, and both knocks came on tough pitches that he swung at to defend the strike zone. His single and double look awfully similar, and are great examples of a strong two-strike approach.
Drury is on both of these pitches in a way he’s rarely been this year. The double in particular shows off solid raw strength as well. Not everyone can scoop a ball like that and get enough on it for it to hit high off the wall.
With the imminent arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Drury’s road to playing time is only going to get more perilous. One encouraging performance probably isn’t enough to drastically alter his fate, but it looks likes he’s broken out of the brutal funk that had him in its grip for most of the year.
Even with Eric Sogard swinging a hot bat, the situation at second base is awfully fluid. If Drury starts looking as good as he did at the plate on Saturday with any kind of regularity, he could play his way into some time over there. That’s not exactly a rosy outlook - and one packed with uncertainty - but less than a week ago it was more bleak.
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