Coming into the season Billy McKinney was one of the many players the Toronto Blue Jays had who didn’t project to be a long-term answer, but seemed worth a shot.
With a dose of power, and a less reckless approach at the plate than some of his colleagues, he was seen as not only the team’s starter in right field, but also a potential leadoff man.
Thus far in 2019, the 24-year-old has not delivered. Although a reasonable strikeout rate has kept him from looking totally lost at the dish, he’s seldom done anything of note - resulting in a grim .241/.291/.380 line. When you add defence and base running that grades as below-average to that line, you end up with a WAR of -0.2. In case you’re wondering there hasn’t been anything in the Statcast to suggest he deserves much better, either.
It hasn’t been a campaign of dramatic miscues, but rather a slow drip of ineptitude. Every day McKinney has looked like he doesn’t belong in extraordinarily slow increments.
On Wednesday, that drip became a gush. The spotlight that had largely eluded him all year fell square on his shoulders in a brutal outing. McKinney’s no good, very bad day started in the second inning, when he reached base on an error and was thrown out on a failed hit-and-run.
His fault? Absolutely not
A harbinger of things to come? Definitely.
In the bottom of that inning he made an error of his own, allowing Kevin Pillar to get on when he biffed an innocent flyball with an Expected Batting Average of .010. The next batter to the plate, Aramis Garcia, did this:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 15, 2019
That made McKinney entirely culpable for one run in a game his team would ultimately lose by one run.
His next at-bat was a benign lineout in the fourth in a situation of no particular consequence, but things got bad again in the sixth. McKinney had runners on first and third with one out in a tie game - the perfect spot to bust the game open - and grounded into a double play when all he needed to do was put the ball in the air.
The outfielder finished his dreary day by giving away the Blue Jays’ penultimate out, waving at a Will Smith slider. All-in-all the outing looked like this:
1 Caught Stealing
-.250 Win Percentage Added
That is not a fun day at the office. McKinney has been subtly ineffective all season, but on Wednesday his struggles were about as subtle as a death metal concert in a library.
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