Lyle Overbay is pressing.

If you feel inclined to add a pithy, “Yeah, DE-pressing” to the above, feel free and may the gods of ’90’s sitcoms be with you. But the fact remains: Overbay is looking for love in all the wrong places.

Take a look at what’s going on with the Jays and it might explain his troubles. 

Alex Gonzalez and John Buck, picked up for their defense and handling of pitchers respectively, have torn the cover off the ball. No one could have predicted this without the aid of witchcraft.

Jose Bautista has become a slugging juggernaut (or sluggernaut), Fred Lewis has been raking, and Travis Snider had been heating up before this wrist ailment sent him packing. Vernon Wells has joined in the excitement by slashing base hits and earning every cent of his much-harangued contract.

Some names are noticeably missing from the above: Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and Overbay. The first two have been given passes with the bullet-proof, obligatory, “It’s only a matter of time” excuse. And, it probably is only a matter of time.

But Overbay has Blue Jays fans frothing at the mouth. He seems to be the only one who isn’t producing, and the only redemption is that the team is winning. There has to be pressure on Overbay, because if he’s the busted wheel, how long until it must be replaced? And if he’s replaced, where will he go?

Rumors were abound that Toronto would move Overbay this offseason. A possible trade with Arizona for catcher Chris Snyder was broached, but never came to fruition. In the end, the team kept Overbay; creating pressure on Overbay to play his way towards a new contract.

It’s not uncommon to see an athlete slap up outrageous numbers in the name of the contract year. That’s the difference between an invite to Spring Training and permanent financial security. This is what Overbay needed this season, so he came out swinging.

Overbay’s swung at 43.2 percent of all pitches this season, which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to him. In his seminal 2006 campaign he took a crack at 44.5 percent of all pitches, not too far off from this season.

The difference is in the quality of the pitches he’s being offered. In 2006, Overbay looked at strikes 52.2 percent of the time. That’s a number which has steadily declined since ’06; this season it’s at 45.4 percent. Also, the number of first-pitch strikes he’s taken or accrued is at a career low 53.6 percent.

Overbay is taking more swings and reaching for more balls outside the strike zone. In fact he’s swung at more pitches outside the strike zone than in any season he’s ever played in (23.2 percent).

Even worse is that his increasing aggressiveness has been coupled with decreases in his contact rates. Overbay is only making contact with 75.2 percent of all pitches, compared to the 82 percent clip he put up in 2006. His swinging strike percentage is at its highest ever (10.5 percent) and scarier still, he’s only reaching 85.6 percent of all pitches he swings at in the strike zone. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2004. 

It’s a brutal cycle. Overbay needs hits to increase his worth but opposing teams are pitching around him, which is causing Overbay to take cracks at pitches he shouldn’t. It’s like he’s caught in a Chinese finger trap of baseball frustration.

What kind of advice do you give to someone in that position? Cito Gaston is affording Overbay every opportunity to work out of the situation, but every at-bat behooves swinging for the fences in order to set this seasons straight.

His teammates are peppering fans with home runs. His contract expires at season’s end. Every hit that Brett Wallace gets at Triple-A further seals his fate with Toronto. Everything is screaming at Lyle Overbay to hit, NOW.

It’s not an enviable situation. Players like Buck and Gonzalez will probably level out, forfeiting the lack of focus opposing pitchers may have afforded Overbay to this point.

It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place…on the Titanic.

There’s still plenty of season left, and that should be Overbay’s credo. Patience and discipline will win the day, things that past incarnations of Overbay possessed. Perhaps those traits will resurface.

Or maybe I’ll get to come up with more depressing metaphors.

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