Kevin Pillar has been the Blue Jays highlight-a-day center fielder for the past two seasons.
Defensively, in center, he is almost without peer. FanGraphs had him at a 26.3 UZR/150, last year, the best score for any center fielder (Kevin Kiermaier is the only CF who comes close at 24.2). At 28, I don’t expect his defense to be any worse this year.
Offensively? Kevin had a bit of a down season last year. Most noticeably, he dropped from 12 home runs to 7. Batting average dropped a tiny bit (.266 from .278), as did OBP (.303 from .314). Kevin was playing with a thumb injury, a torn ligament, which likely explains the drop in power.
Healthy this year, and entering his age 28 season, I’d think the power would come back this year. It would be good to see 15 to 20 home runs. I’d also thing that with health his batting average should come up a little.
And he’s talking about being a little more patient at the plate. He has 6 walks in 44 spring at bats. That matches the number of walks he had in 203 at bats over April and May last year. I have my doubts that he can make a huge change, but a little jump in walks and slightly better batting wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe he could get to a .330 OBP?
In controlling the strike zone, he is trending in the wrong direction. His walk rate was 4.5% in 2015, 4.1% last year and strikeout rate jumped from 13.5% to 15.4%. I’d be happy if he could bring his walk rate up to 7%.
His stolen base number dropped last year too (14 steals, down from 25) and his success rate dropped too (70%, down from 86%). We tend not to get faster as we age, so I doubt we’ll see 25 steals from him again, though it is possible that the injury to his thumb inhibited him some. I’m ok with him picking his spots, stealing enough to make teams take notice when he’s on base.
Kevin is doing great in spring training games, hitting .364/.440/.554, with 6 doubles, 1 triple, the 5 walk and 4 strikeouts. I wonder if there is any coloration between having a very good spring, with having a good season?
PECOTA has him hitting .274/.312/.410 with 10 home runs. I think I’d take the over on each of those, but it is close to what I’d guess. ZiPS says .271/.305/.404 with 11 home run.
If the over/under on Pillar’s OBP is .320 I’d take the
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