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On Kevin Pillar

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Entering May Kevin Pillar was hitting .305/.351/.552 with 4 home runs, 6 walks and 21 strikeouts.

Since May 1st Pillar has been hitting .215/.240/.327, with 3 home runs, 8 walks and 41 strikeouts. Or if you want to use another arbitrary end point, since May 18th he’s hit .173/.199/.280 with 3 walks in 41 games.

And he’s still batting 5th or 6th every night. That drives me nuts.

Granted, there are enough guys not hitting that it is hard to find guys who should be hitting in the middle of the lineup. And you never know when Kevin’s going to start another hot streak. Odds are there will be one sooner or later.

That catch, the other night, was amazing, but sometimes I don’t think the odd catch like that is worth keeping a guy who has that much trouble getting on base.

What I don’t understand is how he can start every year hot. Career he is .289/.326/.464 in April. And, career, he is .225/.271/.336 in May. If you can pick a month of the year to always be at your best, April is the one to choose (though he’s been pretty good in September too, .285/.327/.417).

Anyway, I’m wondering at what point are we going to decide that his glove no longer carries his bat.

  • In 2015, Kevin had a wRC+ of 94. With his defense, that was plenty good enough to make him a valuable member of the team. FanGraphs had him at the 3.7 WAR.
  • 2016 he had a wRC+ or 81, but his defense was as good as anyone’s in the league. His fWAR was 2.3.
  • 2017 his wRC+ was 85. His defense wasn’t quite as good. fWAR 1.9.
  • This year wRC+ is 81 (and has been dropping). Fangraphs leader board has him the 7th best defensive CF in baseball. Lorenzo Cain is at the top of the list. Kevin has a 1.1 fWAR at mid-season.

I don’t think his defense is what it once was, but he still can make catches that make you go wow.

So what would you do? Shop him now? I’m a fan of the line ‘I’d rather trade a player one year too early than one year too late’. I don’t know what kind of offer you would get for him, but some contender must want an outfielder. One year the defense won’t be there and it will be too late to get value for him.

And I’d like to see what Anthony Alford can do. I know he isn’t hitting great in Buffalo, but June was pretty good (.276/.370/.471), but I’d like to think he is our center fielder of the future. I’m sure the Jays would tell you he has more developing to do, I’m willing to have him do it in Toronto. We can let him start his career without too much stress, since we aren’t going anywhere this year. I’m afraid the team is going to wait too long and miss his moment and he’ll end up like Dalton Pompey, a former prospect.

But I can understand wanting to keep Kevin, hoping he keeps up this level (or better) and let us keep a connection to the past. He’s a fan favorite. I think there is a value for a franchise to let a guy play 10 years or more with a team (sort of like Jose Bautista). Fans grow to love a guy. That’s a good thing.

And it is tough to trade the one outfielder who is a pretty sure thing. I mean I’m hoping Randal Grichuk will hit well enough to be in our outfield for the next few years and Teoscar Hernandez might turn out to be a star or he might turn out to be not-quite-a-major-league-corner-outfielder. Pillar might not be terrific, but we know what he will do. I can understand wanting to keep that.

Let’s have a poll.


If it were up to me I’d

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Try to trade Pillar before the deadline.
    (262 votes)
  • 52%
    I’d listen to offers, and trade him if I get the right offer.
    (390 votes)
  • 3%
    Keep him for the season, look to trade him this winter.
    (27 votes)
  • 8%
    Keep him, he’s still good and we need to keep some connections to the past.
    (62 votes)
741 votes total Vote Now