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The season that was: Bo Bichette

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

I paused on doing these as other things caught my attention, but there are a few more players I’d like to look at.The Blue Jays called Bo Bichette up at the end of July 2019. He would have been up sooner, but an injury cost him a month and a half of playing time. He had been our number 3 prospect. I remember saying that if we didn’t have Vlad, we would have been so excited about Bo, but Vlad took all the prospect oxygen out of the room.

When Bo came up, we started winning. I’m not sure it was total cause and effect, but he was a large part of it.There were questions about his defense as a prospect, but his bat could carry his glove at any position.

In 46 games, he hit .311/.358/.571 with 11 home runs. We were excited to think about what he would do with a full season. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a full season of baseball, and, in that shortened season, Bo missed half of it with an injury.

When he played, he was very good.

Standard Batting
G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
29 128 18 37 9 1 5 23 4 1 5 27 .301 .328 .512 .840 127
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/13/2020.

That came out to to 0.9 bWAR and fWAR, one of the few times that both methods agree.

He had a .353 wOBA and a 125 wRC+, slightly down from last year.

Bo’s walk rate was 3.9% (down from 6.6) and strikeout rate was 21.1% (down from 23.6).

His line drive rate was 26.0% (up from 22.6), ground ball rate 40.6% (down from 43.8) and fly ball rate 33.3% (basically the same as last year’s 33.6). His fly balls were leaving the park 15.6% of the time (down from 22.4).

His hard contact rate was 31.3% (about the same as last year’s 32.7) and soft contact rate was 14.6 (about the same as last year’s 15.6).

His BABIP was .352 (slightly down from .368).

Bo hit left-handers (.333/.355/.500) slightly better than righties (.290/.320/.516).

He hit much better in Buffalo (.347/.396/.571) than on the road (.270/.280/.473).

He was terrific with runners in scoring position (.429/.484/.750). Last year he didn’t hit at all with RISP. Almost like it wasn’t a skill set.

Bo by month:

  • July: ..286/.286/.381 with 0 home runs, 0 walks and 7 strikeout in 4 games.
  • August: .400/.442/.825 with 5 home runs, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts in 10 games.
  • September: .242/.266/.355 with 0 home runs, 2 walks and 16 strikeouts in 15 games.

He was just getting hot when he hurt his knee. Then it took a bit to get his swing back.

Defensively, UZR liked him, 5.9. Insert line about UZR needing more playing time to be of real value. Outs Above Average has him at a -1, which tracks better with what I’m seeing.

Old school numbers, he made 3 errors (2 fielding, 1 throwing) for a .971 FA, right about league average.

As a base runner he was -0.1 runs compared to average. He was below average last year too. He is fast, so I can’t understand why he should be below average.

He hit first (7 games) and second (22 games) in the lineup.

We were 12-17 in games he started. He played at the start of the season, when we were finding our way, and came back in time for our losing skip at the end of the season.


If Bo had played more, I would be worried about the drop in the walk rate. I’m going to figure that he was anxious when he came back from injury and wanted to make up for the lost time.He did seem to be the guy who didn’t buy into the ‘let the ball travel’ thing, which is a little surprising as it was his dad that pushed the idea. Of course, sometimes it is harder to take advice from your father.

It would be great if they could work with him on making better decisions on the base paths. There is no reason he shouldn’t be a good base runner, but it isn’t happening.I’m still a fan of getting a Gold Glove type shortstop and moving Bo to second. I think he could be an excellent defensive 2B. My feeling is improving the defense up the middle would help the pitchers look better, save them many pitches, and perhaps let starters go deeper into games. If the starters get a little deeper into games, the bullpen will look that much better.

I think it will happen at some point. Maybe not this year, but we’ll get there.Last year we asked if Bo would have a shampoo commercial this year. 77% of us said yes, so they have a month and a half to get out. Most of us felt he would be an All-Star “in the next two seasons.” Since there weren’t All-Stars this year, there is a bit of pressure for him to get there next year. And 35% of us thought he’d be team MVP this year. He wasn’t. I’d give that to Teoscar or Hyun.

We took a little look at how Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. compared to their Hall of Fame fathers at the same age. Bo has a head start on his father, Dante’s didn’t make the MLB until his age 24 season, and he only played 21 games that year and 48 the next season. If Bo can get in a full season next year or the one after, he’ll have a considerable lead. Bo has 16 home runs, Dante had 18 after his age 26 season and didn’t get his numbers going until he the Brewers traded him to the Rockies, for his age 29 season. Dante finished with 274 home runs.Dante had a 5.7 bWAR in his career and his best season was a 3.0 bWAR. I think Bo beats both of those numbers in the next 2-3 years.

I usually put a report card poll at the bottom of these, but for Bo, the right answer is ‘incomplete’, so let’s ask a couple of different things.

Poll

Does Bo finish his career with more than the 274 home runs his dad hit?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Yes
    (177 votes)
  • 30%
    No
    (78 votes)
255 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Does Bo Bichette win an AL MVP in his career?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Yes
    (114 votes)
  • 54%
    No
    (135 votes)
249 votes total Vote Now