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Jays' weekend sweep start of something special?

Fresh off a weekend sweep of Oakland, the unbeaten-in-six Toronto Blue Jays welcome losing clubs Tampa Bay and Kansas City to town this week. Both teams are 11-14 on the road this season, but a more telling number might be their Weighted On-Base Average.

WOBA stat suggests pitching success may continue during home stretch

The Blue Jays' J.A. Happ turned in his strongest performance of the season, pitching seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics on Sunday. He is part of a Blue Jays rotation that has stood out during the team's 16-5 run. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Just like that, the Toronto Blue Jays have surpassed the .500 mark at home.

Hey, it’s big news these days, given the division-leading Jays, at 13-11 at the Rogers Centre, are the lone American League East squad in that position.

All it took was a three-game weekend sweep of the best team in the league, the Oakland Athletics.

And with 13 of the next 16 games on home turf, it’s a good time for the hottest team in baseball to create some separation in the standings.

This week, the unbeaten-in-six Blue Jays (29-22) welcome the 23-28 Tampa Bay Rays for three games, starting Monday, followed by a four-game set against Kansas City (24-25).

Both teams have identical 11-14 road records this season, but a more telling number, for those in the world of advanced baseball statistics, might be their Weighted On-Base Average.

The stat combines the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each in proportion to their actual run value.

It accounts for unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches, singles, doubles, triples and home runs.

Weighted On-Base Average is calculated by assigning a value to each type of offensive output, with the player’s totals for each combined and divided by their total plate appearances.

WOBA formula

The wOBA formula for this season is:

(0.72 x NIBB, or unintentional walks) + (0.75 x HBP) + (0.90 x 1B) + (0.92 x RBOE, or reached base on error) + (1.24 x 2B) + (1.56 x 3B) + (1.95 x HR) /PA.

In May, Toronto leads the 30-team major leagues in homers, runs and runs batted in and has posted a .354 wOBA, which is considered above average to great.

Cleveland (.349) and Detroit (.344) are the Blue Jays’ closest competitors in the AL while Colorado (.351), Los Angeles Dodgers (.341) and Pittsburgh (.337) sit 1-2-3 in the National League.

Tampa Bay ranks 27th with a .292 wOBA and Kansas City 29th (.285). A rating of .290 is considered awful.

The AL and major league averages for May are .316 and .315.

Looking ahead, the St. Louis Cardinals visit Toronto for a weekend series starting June 6, with Minnesota’s arrival June 9 for three games completing the Jays’ home stretch.

St. Louis sat 14th in the majors in wOBA (.316) entering play Monday while Minnesota was a lowly 28th (.285).

Against Tampa Bay, Toronto hitters face Canadian left-hander Erik Bedard, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer.

Bedard, who hails from Navan, Ont. (near Ottawa), has been a nice addition for an injury ravaged Rays starting rotation, having won two of his previous five starts entering Monday with a 0.96 earned-run average.

But he’s winless in his past eight starts versus Toronto with a 5.01 ERA.

Here are the projected pitching matchups in the Blue Jays-Rays series:

Monday: Drew Hutchison (3-3, 3.45 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (2-2, 2.63).

  • Hutchison (last 3 starts): 2-1, 1.89 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 19 innings.
  • Hutchison vs. Rays: 1-1, 5.79, 7 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.
     
  • Bedard (last 3 starts): 1-1, 0.53, 15 strikeouts in 17 innings.
  • Bedard vs. Blue Jays: 2-5, 4.76, 57 strikeouts in 68 innings.

Tuesday: Mark Buehrle (8-1, 2.16) vs. Alex Cobb (1-1, 1.40, four starts).

  • Buehrle (last 3 starts): 2-0, 2.75, 11 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.
  • Buehrle vs. Rays: 9-5, 4.21, 91 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings.
     
  • Cobb (last 3 starts): 1-0, 0.00, 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.
  • Cobb vs. Blue Jays: 2-1, 2.95, 12 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.

Wednesday: Liam Hendriks (1-0, 1.59, one start) vs. Chris Archer (3-2, 4.11).

  • Hendriks vs. Rays: 0-0, 6.35, 1 strikeout in 5 2/3 innings.
     
  • Archer (last 3 starts): 1-1, 2.16, 18 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.
  • Archer vs. Blue Jays: 2-0, 2.01, 17 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.

Only the first two pitching matchups have been announced for the Blue Jays-Royals series:

Thursday: James Shields (6-3, 2.95) vs. R.A. Dickey (5-4, 3.95).

  • Dickey (last 3 starts): 2-1, 3.05, 13 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.
  • Dickey vs. Rays: 3-3, 4.33, 23 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings.
     
  • Shields (last 3 starts): 2-0, 3.60, 15 strikeouts in 20 innings
  • Shields vs. Blue Jays: 12-6, 3.09, 138 strikeouts in 163 1/3 innings.

Friday: Jason Vargas (4-2, 3.55) vs. J.A. Happ (4-1, 3.34).

  • Happ (last 3 starts): 3-0, 2.50, 17 strikeouts in 18 innings.
  • Happ vs. Rays: 2-1, 5.40, 10 strikeouts in 15 innings.
     
  • Vargas (last 3 starts): 1-1, 5.09, 20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
  • Vargas vs. Blue Jays: 1-3, 5.90, 24 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.

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