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The season that was: Cavan Biggio

A look at Cavan’s 2020 season.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

We’ve been following Cavan Biggio for a few years now.The Blue Jays drafted Cavan in the fifth round of the 2016 draft.

In 2017 he took a lot of walks (74 in 556 PA) and had many strikeouts (140). Before the 2018 season, we had him #34 on our prospect list. He seemed to go to the plate and wait for either a strikeout or a walk. He was patient, but, as Matt said, “he was not particularly discriminating in terms of differentiating balls and strikes, and ended up behind in a lot of counts and looking at strike 3.” His plan seemed to be to hope that the pitcher would reach four balls before three strikes.He didn’t show any power, had just a .363 SA. We figured that wasn’t a plan that would work as he moved up the ladder.

In 2018 he learned to turn on a pitch. He was still patient but would watch for a pitch he could hit hard. He hit .252/.388/.499 with 26 homers and 100 walks. He jumped up to number 10 on our prospect list.The question became, “would he have a position’. He played all over the place but didn’t seem to play any of the positions well. And we are still wondering about his position

He was called up on May 24th, 2019, and hit .234/.364/.429 with 16 home runs, 71 walks, and 14 steals (without being caught). He finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.

Standard Batting
59 265 220 41 55 16 0 8 28 6 0 41 61 .250 .375 .432 .807 122
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/11/2020.

And he led the team in being hit by pitch with 3.

Baseball Reference had him at a 1.7 WAR (best on the team for batters). FanGraphs at a 1.5 WAR (second best on the team).

He had a .355 wOBA and a 127 wRC+.

Cavan’s walk rate was 15.5% (down from 16.5 last year) and strikeout rate was 23.0% (down from 28.6).

His line drive was down (21.0% from 27.6), ground ball rate was up (38.2% from 25.4) and fly ball rate was down (40.8%, from 47.0). fewer of his fly balls left the park (12.5%, down from 14.7).

Soft contact was up a bit (13.2% from 12.4), and hard contact was down (31.4% from 39.5)_

His BABIP was much the same as last year (.311, .309 last year).

Biggio had big time reverse splits (.299/.460/.448 vs. LHP and .229/.333/.425 vs. RHP). Last year he had far more normal splits, so maybe he was a small sample size issue.

He hit slightly better in Buffalo (.250/.390/.427) than on the road (.250/.363/.435).

He was excellent with RISP (.326/.492/.522).

Biggio by month:

July: .200/.250/.400 with 2 home runs in 7 games.

August: .278/.412/474 with 4 home runs in 26 games.

Sept: .237/.372/.398 with 2 home runs in 26 games.

On defense, he played a number of defensive positions:

  • Second base: 281 innings. 3 errors, .977 FA. FanGraphs has him at a 4.6 UZR/150. Statscast outs above average had him at a -2.
  • Third base: 81 innings. 1 error, .964 FA. FanGraphs has him at a -13.4 UZR/150.
  • Outfield 129 innings (3 in LF, 23 in CF, 129 in RF): He made 1 error, .968 FA. FanGraphs has him at a -17.0 UZR/150.

UZR needs a larger sample size to be trusted.

In games he started Biggio hit:

  • 1st: 46 games.
  • 2nd: 10 games.
  • 8th: 1 game.

Last year, I said Cavan was called out on strikes just off the plate more than any other batter in baseball. It seemed much the same this year. Cavan has his idea of the strike zone, and he isn’t going to expand it no matter what the umpire is doing.

How is he doing compared to his dad? Well, this was Cavan’s age 25 season. Through age 25:

  • Craig: 483 games, 1987 PA, 210 runs, 24 home runs, 71 steals, 162 walks, .272/.339/.371 line.
  • Cavan: 159 games, 695 PA, 107 runs, 24 home runs, 20 steals, 112 walks, .240/.375/.432 line.

Craig was a catcher until his age 26 season.

Cavan losses out a lot because of the 60 game season. An extra 100 games would tighten their numbers. Craig had more steals but was caught 21 times. Cavan hasn’t been caught yet.

I’d much rather have Cavan’s batting line, but he came into his own at age 27. Maybe Cavan will as well. Dad retired with 3060 hits and had 454 by the end of his age 25 season. Cavan has 138 so he has some catching up to do there.

The big question, to me, is what position Cavan will end up. I didn’t mind him at third base. His arm might be a bit of a question mark at the spot, but I’d like to see him play there after learning the position during spring training.

I favor putting Bo Bichette at second (I think Bo would be an excellent defensive 2B, and getting someone very good on defense at short would improve the team defense a lot). After watching them playing the Rays, I’d love better team defense.

If Bo were to go to second, the choices for Cavan are third or center. We could use good defensive center fielder. I’m not sure Cavan is the guy, but then we haven’t seen him out there enough.

I would like them to pick a position for Cavan and leave him there. I think Cavan is one of the team’s stars, and my opinion has always been that you choose the position for your stars and move the other guys around to accommodate the stars. We seem to be dragging him around the diamond with Cavan to accommodate Joe Panik and Jonathan Villar. I think that is doing things backward.

There is also a question of whether he should be a little more aggressive at the plate. Do you want him to expand the zone a little bit to avoid watching strike three quite so often? Should he be swinging at the first pitch more? Personally, I think he’s been great at the plate.

He does occasionally go after the first pitch. He swung at the first pitch 22 times this season and hit .333/.364/.429. So his OPS (.792) was slightly worse doing that than his normal (.807). It is likely good to do that occasionally but I’m happy with how he hits.

It is going to be fun watching his career unfold.


For his 2019 season, I would grade Cavan Biggio a

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