Outlook for Blue Jays & Kevin Pillar in 2019

The 2019 Season Is Expected To Be Non-Competitive One For The Blue Jays, So What Does That Mean For Kevin Pillar?

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no hiding the fact that the Blue Jays have a lot of questions surrounding their team heading into this season. The latest one is questioning what type of season Kevin Pillar will have this year. The man who Blue Jays fans call “Superman,” is now the longest tenured Blue Jays’ player on their current roster.

 

Pillar’s best season of record in the major leagues so far was easily his performance during the 2015 season. He was able to record career highs in games played(159), SB(25), BA(.278), OBP(.314), SLG(.399) and OPS(.713). However, the 30-year-old center-fielder has been slowly regressing in each season ever since.

 

Over the last two seasons, Pillar has created this trend throughout both seasons. That has indicated that this might be the player he’s regressing into. To start both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he began with a very productive two months of the season. Between March and April in both years, Pillar has hit .300-plus in both BA and OBP. He also was able to produce four home runs in that same time frame in both of those seasons as well.

 

Even when the calendar turns to May, his numbers over the last two seasons don’t slip much at all. It’s only when the calendar turns to the summer months, is when Pillar’s numbers drop significantly. He goes from hitting to above .300 in BA and OBP, to hitting just over .200 for his BA and in the mid .200 for his OBP. In both seasons, he’s only able to recover from his hitting woes in months August and September.

 

After seeing those trends that Pillar has produced over the last two seasons it now begs the question: What type of season will we get from Pillar in 2019? and will this trend continue for another season? The West Hills, California-native is still expected to be the everyday player in center field for new manager Charlie Montoyo this season.

 

Like with his hitting, Pillar’s defense in the outfield has shown major signs of regression. Pillar finished third among center fielders in the American League for the most errors committed last season. His defensive runs saved also dropped significantly last season as well. His DRS for the 2016 season was at 21, but at a -2 for last season.

 

Pillar’s ability to catch balls that have a catch probability of 25% or less is also worrisome. Over the last two seasons, he has had 57 opportunities to make an out on a ball described as such, out of those 57 plays he’s made one single out. If that’s not enough to open your eyes here’s something that will: Former Blue Jay, Jose Bautista had 32 opportunities to make an out of the catch probability of 25% or less in the 2017 season, and he made one out. So, this shows that Pillar’s defense has regressed so much that it’s almost comparable to Bautista’s was when he left Toronto. So, if Pillar continues to perform poorly in the outfield, then Montoyo might consider a positional change for him.

 

Randal Grichuk could be the potential replacement for Pillar in CF for this season. He displayed (in 26 games last season) that he’s very capable of playing in center field for the entire season. Which would then mean Pillar would shift over to one of the corner outfield positions, where he hasn’t been positioned since the 2015 season.

 

This could also mean that the Blue Jays would be willing to explore trade options for Pillar. The Blue Jays have younger, and potentially more productive, options at the corner outfield positions. So, if Pillar can produce another hot start like he has done over the last two seasons, then that might provide the Blue Jays with enough value that they would be able to receive a worthwhile return for No.11.

 

Regardless if the Blue Jays trade Pillar or not, the 2019 season will likely continue the trend of the last two seasons. However, this season might also include a position change and one that see’s Pillar finish this season with a different team on the front of his jersey.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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