The Toronto Blue Jays have to figure out their CF situation and relying on Grichuk everyday wouldn’t be the worst thing
The Toronto Blue Jays have a collection of outfielders from which t hey have to select their center fielder. it doesn’t look as though they’re looking to pull the trigger on a big deal to land a Starling Marte, so they’ll head to Spring Training with their crop of in house options and hope someone takes the job and runs with it.
None of the options the club has is currently what we would call “ideal”. They guys like Anthony Alford and Jonathan Davis who are more what you’d think of when you think of a “natural CF”. But, they have not been able to show they can handle big league pitching, at least not to the point where they should be given everyday at bats. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.has found a home in left, even if some think it would be worth trying him in CF. Teoscar Hernandez has speed and saw over 600 innings there last season. But, his -7 DRS and UZR/150 of -13.2 look worse than his -1 OAA. In fact, many are ready to limit him to being the DH in 2020.
All of this leads me to be more and more comfortable with Randal Grichuk in CF. Firstly, the guy is good for 25-30 home runs. I mean, he had better be since his 2019 OBP was .280. Maybe Cavan Biggio can work with him on that. Regardless, Grichuk gives you the power and that is difficult to ignore.
The defensive side of things is what really has me thinking that Grichuk would be just fine in CF. In nearly 2000 career innings, he has put up 14 DRS in that position, including 2 last season. His career UZR/150 is -1.2, but -0.6 in 2019. He put up 2 of his 6 OAA in 2019 in CF. Grichuk is a solid defender. He’s not likely to win a Gold Glove any time soon, but he can be relied upon for the bulk of the playing time.
Grichuk is also not going to be Superman out there. Fangraphs tells us that he made zero Impossible or Remote plays, 20% of the Unlikely, but 100% of the Even, 100% of the Likely and 99.1% of the routine plays. He’s not flashy and won’t end up on highlight reels, but he is dependable.
None of this is to suggest that Randal Grichuk is someone I would choose in CF if I were building a team. In a perfect world, he would be playing in right field for the Blue Jays. However, in the context of the 2020 season, considering the options available to manager, Charlie Montoyo, it looks like Grichuk will get the nod for the most playing time. Since there is no pressure to win right now, the club can afford to use what they have until they can find a better option.
Maybe moving Biggio to CF makes the overall club better. Doubtful, but maybe. Maybe Gurriel can make the transition look easy. Maybe. Maybe Hernandez will prove to be more than a CF back up. Maybe Alford finds his bat in 2020. Maybe Davis does. Time will tell. Until then, the Blue Jays will go with Randal Grichuk in CF and that is OK with me.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.