If you follow a winning baseball club over the course of a season, you’ll eventually hear the word chemistry mentioned in relation to how the team’s players get along.
The word has certainly been thrown around in Toronto this year whenever broadcasters or writers have discussed the Blue Jays and their early success to begin the season.
But what exactly does chemistry mean? It can be quite a vague term that’s not always explained in sports talk.
If you ask Jays catcher Rod Barajas, he’ll tell you chemistry in baseball is not unlike the dictionary definition, which is the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of a substance (this case being the team).
“Chemistry is friendship,” Barajas said. “Guys getting along and enjoying each other’s company. And guys who like coming to the field. For me, that’s the biggest part of chemistry. It’s having people that you like around you.”
Barajas noted that having teammates with good personalities is a key ingredient in forming chemistry. And in the catcher’s view, it’s tough for teams to win without solid chemistry.
“In the long run, you’re going to have teams that don’t have quite as good talent as other teams, but have better chemistry,” said Barajas. “For me, that is definitely more of an advantage than just talent alone. I think you need a combination of both to be able to be considered the best.”
Barajas believes that while the Jays had “great” chemistry last year, the addition of Kevin Millar, who Toronto signed in the off-season, has done wonders in the clubhouse this year. Millar has earned a reputation around baseball for being one of the better “chemistry-guys” in the league.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what mood you’re in, he can go up to you and make you laugh,” Barajas said of Millar. “He brings that fun atmosphere. Everybody likes him and he gets along with everybody. He talks to everybody — young guys, old guys, Latin guys — it doesn’t matter. He just brings everybody together.”
• Veteran presence can often translate into chemistry for a team. “I think you definitely need some older guys that steer the team in the right direction,” Rod Barajas said. The current Blue Jays roster includes eight players who entered the season with at least 10 years of big league experience: Barajas, Raul Chavez, Roy Halladay, John McDonald, Kevin Millar, Scott Rolen, B.J. Ryan and Vernon Wells.