clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Season That Was: Kevin Pillar

A look at Kevin Pillar's 2015 season.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Most of us figured that Kevin Pillar would be, at best, our fourth outfielder, going into the season.

In 2014 Kevin was up and down, between Toronto and Buffalo. He got into 53 games, with the Jays and didn't hit all that well, .267/.295/.397. He didn't show us that he did anything well enough to make us expect that he could hold on to a full time job in a major league outfield.

With the signing of Michael Saunders, we thought that, maybe, Pillar could platoon in left. It seemed to be the natural fit. Then, Saunders got attacked by a Dunedin spring training field and a full time spot opened for Pillar.

I'm sure that, had you told me, last off-season, that Pillar would play 159 games, I would have guessed that our season didn't go well. Considering he missed 10 days of spring training, after hurting his back with a sneeze, I'd have guessed that playing 159 game was a total impossibility.

Year   Age   G  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2015    26 159 586 76 163 31  2 12  56 25  4 28 85 .278 .314 .399 .713

Provided by "":

Baseball Reference had him at a 5.2 WAR. Fangraphs was a little more restrained, putting him at a, still very good, 4.3. That would give him a value of $34.3 million to the Jays. Considering he made the major league minimum, he was a huge bargain for the Jays.

He was pretty good in the playoffs, hitting .286/.333/.479 with 5 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBI and 2 steals in 11 games.

Pillar had a .304 wOBA and a 92 wRC+.

Compared to his limited action in 2014, Kevin's walk rate was up a bit (4.5% up from 3.3) and his strikeout rate was down a lot (13.5% from 23.0).

Line drive rate was up (21.9% up from 15.9), ground balls down (41.4% from 51.1) and fly balls up (36.7% from 33.0). about the same number of fly balls left the part (6.6% from 6.9).

His BABIP was .306.

He hit RHP (.278/.311/.412) slightly better than LHP (.278/.323/.361).

He hit slightly better at home (.283/.323/.403) than on the road (.274/.305/.395).

With RISP Kevin hit .268/.301/.362.

And he hit much the same in the first half of the season (.278/.312/.407) than in the second half (.278/.317/.389). He seems to be pretty much lacking real splits of any sort.

By month:

  • April: .273/.297/.398 with 1 home run and 11 RBI.
  • May: .181/.237/.257 with 1 home run and 6 RBI.
  • June: .365/.380/.531 with 4 home runs and 18 RBI.
  • July: .283/.323/.391 with 1 home run and 4 RBI.
  • August: .240/.283/.320 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI.
  • Sept/Oct: .333/.368/.505 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI.
I'll admit,in May, I was wondering why Gibby was being so patient with Pillar when he was so impatient with Dalton Pompey, but Kevin started hitting again in June.

Or course, it was Pillar's defense that got everyone's attention. He started the season in left, was terrific, making several amazing catches and then moved to center and continued to make highlight catches every day. When a ball actually hit the ground, anywhere near center field, I was surprised. I had the feeling he could catch anything.

He played 1382 innings in the outfield, FanGraphs has him at a 15.4 UZR/150.

He was one of the top 3 vote getters for the Gold Glove in center field, losing out to Kevin Kiermaier. He did win the award for best defensive center fielder from Wilson. However you want to look at it, Kevin is as good an outfielder as any in the league.

Fangraphs has him at 8.1 runs better than the average base runner. He was great as good on the bases as he was in the field.

His longest hitting streak was 11 games, longest on base streak was 18 games. Longest stretch without a home run was 43 games.

His favorite team to hit? He hit .429/.429/1.071 in 4 games against the Mets. Among AL teams, he hit .373/.417/.567 with 3 home runs in 17 games vs. the Orioles. Least favorite? He hit just .130/.200/.130 in 7 games against the White Sox.

It really was a very season for Kevin. He's still young, he'll turn 27 in early January, so I'm hopeful that we could see a little improvement with the bat. We could ask for a little more (or maybe a lot more) patience at the plate. He doesn't hit for a lot of power, so if he could walk more than once a week, I'd be happier. With his speed (25 steals, 4 times caught), if he could get on base a little more, he could be a pretty valuable offensive player.

The way he is now, the glove will keep him in the lineup. I'm hoping that, with the time his glove buys him, his bat will improve. A little improvement and he could be a Ben Revere type player, with more power. A little patience, and he could be an interesting, kind of traditional, choice for leadoff hitter, but I don't mind having his speed at the back of the lineup.

It is impossible to pick just one highlight clip. Is this his best catch?

Or maybe this:

Or,if you want to go back to early in the season:

I could put 20 more up, but let's stop there.

If you are a fan, we do have a shirt you might like.