Biggio may seem to be a lock for the starting 2B job but will the Blue Jays use him as an outfielder instead?
Blue Jays fans know that their 67-95 record in 2019 was sub par. There were, however, successes in terms of individual player development.
Cavan Biggio had one of the more successful seasons among Blue Jays rookies in 2019. He slashed .234/.364/.429. His OPS + was 113. He went 14 for 14 in stolen bases. In the month of September, after management asked him to take a more aggressive approach at the plate, he slashed .300/.424/.563. On September 17 against the Orioles in Baltimore, Biggio hit for the cycle.
He was good for 2.4 fWAR in exactly 100 MLB games after making his Blue Jays debut in late May. Barring injury or (baseball Gods forbid) a trade, he should be a lock to stay in the majors with the Jays.
Statcast recently came up with a new metric to rate infielders’ defence, Outs Above Average. Biggio’s rating of +7 ranks him fourth best among 38 MLB second basemen in 2019. Being above average defensively in addition to the other things Biggio brings to the table, it would seem to be safe to assume the Jays have found their second baseman for the foreseeable future.
Not so fast.
The Jays currently have seven outfielders on the 40 man roster. Only Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.appear to be penciled in to starting outfield jobs with the 2020 Jays. For different reasons, there are questions surrounding Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, Billy McKinney, Jonathan Davis and Anthony Alford.
There has been speculation that Toronto would look outside the organization for a reliable upgrade either by free agency or trade. So far that has yet to materialize.
One possibility that has been discussed is for Biggio to see some time in the outfield. Biggio has heard talk of the possibility. Per Arash Madani, he is willing to do so if asked:
Cavan Biggio on reports that he could play some OF. "My whole mindset towards it is I'll play anywhere to help the team win that night… The best position on the field is in the field and in the line-up."
References that his dad had position changes at times during his career.
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) January 10, 2020
We can add “puts the needs of the team first” to the many things to like about him. The question is, would this be the best move for the team?
It wouldn’t be the first time in his professional career he saw time in the outfield. He played 8 games there for the Jays in 2019 as well as some in the minors.
Biggio has decent speed. In 2019, the 24 year old ranked seventh on the Jays in sprint speed at 28.3 ft/sec (27 is considered MLB average). On the other hand, he is probably never going to be Devon White out there. Acknowledging the very small sample size, as an outfielder, in 2019 Biggio made 100% of the routine plays (90-100% probability) and 100% of the likely ones (60-90%). There were no even (40-60%) or remote (1-10%) opportunities in the outfield. He did not make the one unlikely (10-40%) play opportunity he had.
Looking at his results as a second baseman, we see a very different picture. He made close to 100% (99.6%) of the routine plays, 75% of the likely ones, 28.6% of the even ones and 9.1% of the unlikely ones.
Assuming that the Jays don’t acquire a natural outfielder before the season starts, there is certainly time to give Biggio some innings in the outfield and see how he looks out there. My feeling is that his results to date might be his ceiling as a defensive outfielder – someone who makes the routine and likely plays but not a lot beyond that. The numbers say he defence is above average at second base. For the sake of the team and for Biggio’s sake, they should go with a natural outfielder. Either someone in house to take a step forward or go outside the organization. Let Biggio do what is he good at.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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