Seitzer seeing results with first-place Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Kevin Seitzer usually stands right behind the cage during batting practice while the players take their cuts. From time to time, he’ll move over to the side and will weigh in with a quick tip or two.

TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Kevin Seitzer usually stands right behind the cage during batting practice while the players take their cuts.

From time to time, he’ll move over to the side and will weigh in with a quick tip or two.

It’s a comfortable approach that has paid dividends for the American League East division leaders, who boast an offence that is among the best in Major League Baseball.

“I think he’s hands on when he needs to and he sits back and he watches when he needs to too,” said Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz.

“We have a lot of good hitters here and with good hitters comes success and some streakiness.

“He does a good job of limiting the bad streaks and extending the good streaks.”

The team’s offensive statistics over the first two months of the campaign have been eye-opening.

Entering Wednesday’s games, the Blue Jays led the major leagues in home runs (83) and were second in runs scored (296), RBIs (281), slugging percentage (.451), hits (534) and OPS (on-base plus slugging — .784). Toronto was also tied for second in on-base percentage (.333) and sat fifth in team batting average (.264).

Seitzer keeps a close eye on all the numbers but values some statistical categories more than others.

“Runs scored is the one I’m most concerned about,” he said. “If you’re scoring runs, whether you do it by home runs, situational hitting, you’ve got to be able to get on base, draw walks, be able to move runners and get big hits when guys are in scoring position.

“It kind of encompasses everything really.”

The 52-year-old native of Springfield, Ill., was hired by the Blue Jays last fall after spending parts of five seasons as a hitting coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals. He succeeded Chad Mottola, who spent one year in the position.

Seitzer, a two-time all-star as a player, had a .295 career average over 12 seasons with the Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians.

As a coach, he has preached the importance of preparation and making hard, consistent contact in the box.

“Have an idea of what the pitcher has got and what he’s going to try to do, and then what each guy needs to do in order to have the best chance to succeed,” he said of his approach. “I like to keep things simple. I don’t like it complicated, they don’t want it complicated.

“They’ve made really good adjustments so far.”

The power portion of the Toronto lineup has delivered so far with sluggers Edwin Encarnacion (.272 average, 19 homers, 50 RBIs) and Jose Bautista (.310, 14 homers, 41 RBIs) on pace for big seasons.

Among the other notable performances, first baseman Adam Lind is batting .347 while Melky Cabrera has a .303 average.

Juan Francisco is hitting .276 with nine homers and 24 RBIs in just 36 games.

As for that important runs scored category, three Toronto players are in the top 15 in the major leagues: Bautista (44 – tied for fourth), Encarnacion (41 – tied for seventh) and Cabrera (37 – tied for 14th).

Those numbers are a big reason why Toronto took a 35-24 record — the second-best mark in the American League — into Wednesday’s game at Detroit.

It’s a big step up from this time last year, when the Blue Jays were last in the East at 24-34.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Seitzer said of the team’s effort. “If you’re in first place after the first third, then the second third and the third one, then you’re right where you need to be. So I couldn’t ask for more right now.”

The 2013 Blue Jays posted decent offensive numbers despite their poor 74-88 record. The team was ninth in runs scored (712), fourth in homers (185), 11th in RBIs (669), eighth in slugging percentage (.411) and 15th in batting average (.252).

While Seitzer deserves his share of the credit for the improvement, he’s quick to praise the players for their professional approach and effort.

He has been very impressed with what he’s seen so far.

Just Posted

WATCH: Ponoka residents enjoy first skate on ice path

A community initiative helped create a skate path for families in Ponoka.

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Canada, U.S. lead call for enforcement of sanctions against North Korea

VANCOUVER — Canada and the U.S. led calls Tuesday for the global… Continue reading

Donald Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by an immigrant to Canada

WASHINGTON — When the White House released the results of a test… Continue reading

Food industry fails to meet most voluntary sodium reduction targets: Health Canada

TORONTO — Voluntary sodium targets for the food industry have failed to… Continue reading

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month