If the Toronto Blue Jays are going to compete in this short season, it will be because Bo Bichette continues to impress
According to a piece by Rachael McDaniel at Fangraphs, the Toronto Blue Jays rank 8th in the 2020 shortstop Power Rankings, just behind the Yankees and ahead of the World Series Champion, Washington Nationals. This is a marked improvement over last year where they were 26th and it is all because of Bo Bichette. If the Blue Jays are going to compete, he will be the reason why.
After making his big league debut and going on a tear last summer, he finds himself in a position to have similar success. He put up 1.4 fWAR in just 228 plate appearances last year. This weird, short season will see him play just two weeks longer than he did in 2019. This is significant because McDaniel points out that there is doubt as to whether he can sustain his performance over a full season. Well, in 2020, he doesn’t have to.
Speaking of doubt, that is exactly what the Blue Jays will be thriving on as they look to prove people wrong. This is an attitude that Cavan Biggio has voiced and Bichette himself has already expressed. He has been touted as the new clubhouse leader. He’ll step into the role once filled by Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki and look to guide his team through the 2020 season and possibly into the playoffs. If you doubt they’ll make it, Bichette will be happy to say ‘I told you so’…assuming the season gets played to its entirety and all that.
If a player is really going to lead, they need to be able to back it up with performance on the field. That is especially true of a player entering his second year in baseball. The argument could be made that a 60 game, all out season emphasizes this even more. If Bichette is going to fill the leader shoes, he’s going to have to repeat his 2019…and maybe even surpass it.
|1 Yr||1 Yr||46||212||32||61||18||11||21||4||14||50||.311||.930|
Putting up a wRC+ mark of 142 won’t be an easy task, of course. But, Bichette has a minor league track record, as McDaniel points out, that would suggest he may not be far off. However, she is less sold on his defensive abilities over a full season, which I find interesting since he put up 4 DRS. Statcast would agree with McDaniel as Bichette posted -4 OAA. There may be work to be done, but for the 60 game 2020 season, he may be just fine. Over a 162 marathon, that may be in question.
On the first televised baseball game we’ve had in a long time, the Blue Jays played an intra-squad game and Bichette was named the “captain” of his team, showing a hint of the leadership potential management sees in him. Of course, that may to may not mean a whole lot since Randal Grichuk was named the other “captain”. We probably shouldn’t read much into that decision, obviously.
What we can read into is the many comments about Bichette being a leader and his impact on the clubhouse. If reports are true, he will be right in the middle of a sprint to the playoffs where his team just might surprise a few people. He is a confident young man who will not back down from a challenge, so there is no reason to think he won’t relish that role.
But, again, his on field performance will need to be up to snuff. Bichette came to the big leagues in 2019 and put up 1.7 fWAR (4th most on the team) despite playing in only 46 games. He brings a nice mix of speed and power t hat fans should be excited about. While Vladimir Guerrero Jr.can be said to have had a disappointing 2019 season, the opposite is true of Bichette. He was a breath of fresh air.
Bo Bichette just might be able to breathe life into the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2020 playoff hopes. If he can’t, no one will.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.