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The season that was: Bo Bichette

Taking a look at Bichette’s 2021 season.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2021 season, Bo Bichette only had 75 games of MLB experience and was only 23-years-old. I tended to think of him as a veteran already.

They were 75 good games. Bo hit .307/.347/.549 with 16 home runs. However, he did miss half of our 60 game 2020 season.

I've been guilty of thinking that he's a finished product and not a young developing player.

His defense graded out pretty good in his 29 game 2020 season, getting 5.9 UZR/150 (as much as UZR needs more than 29 games to be of much value). But then he had a really rough time in our two and out Wild Card series. He made two errors in the first two innings of the second game. After only making three errors during the season, it seemed out of character for him. But he seemed mature enough not to let that bother him going into this season.

I was looking forward to what he could do with a full season.

Standard Batting
159 690 640 121 191 30 1 29 102 25 1 40 137 .298 .343 .484 .828 123 310 10 6 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/16/2021.

He was a 20/20 man.

Baseball-Reference had Bo at a 6.0 WAR. FanGraphs didn't like him quite as much, 4.9 WAR, making him worth $39.1 million to the Jays.

He had a .354 wOBA and a 122 wRC+, both numbers very close to last year's.

Bo's walk rate was 5.8 (up from 3.9%), and strikeout rate was 19.9 (down from 21.1).

His line-drive rate was 20.5% (down from 26.0%), ground ball rate was 49.1% (up from 40.6) and fly-ball rate 30.4% (down from 33.3). His fly balls were leaving the park 18.8% of the time (up from 15.6%).

Bo's soft contact was much the same as last year (14.8%, from 14.6). His hard contact rate was up, 36.4% from 31.3.

His BABIP was .339 (slightly down from .353).

Bo hit left-handers (.340/.396/.553) much better than righties (.286/.327/.463). So much better that you might consider using him in different spots in the order depending on the starting pitcher.

And he hit better in our various home parks (.315/.359/.529) than in road parks (.282/.329/.442).

Bo hit very well with RISP (.340/.384/.531).

And, just because it was a thing that Buck and Pat talked about a lot, I’ll note that he hit .195/.223/.260 after two strikes.

He hit much the same in the first half (.293/.342/.483) as the second half (.305/.345/.486).

Bo by month:

  • April: .260/.308/.531 with 7 home runs, 5 walks and 29 strikeouts in 24 games.
  • May: .265/.317/.427 with 4 home runs, 9 walks and 30 strikeouts in 28 games.
  • June: .327/.373/.500 with 4 home runs, 7 walks and 17 strikeouts in 26 games.
  • July: .337/.400/.500 with 4 home runs, 8 walks and 14 strikeouts in 23 games.
  • August: .250/.293/.343 with 2 home runs, 7 walks and 22 strikeouts in 27 games.
  • September: .350/.374/.602 with 8 home runs, 4 walks and 25 strikeouts in 31 games.

Like most of our hitters, August did not go well. But he made up for it in August.

Defensively, UZR didn't like him much at short, -5.0 UZR/150 (second-worst among AL shortstops). He made a lot of errors, 24, 11 fielding and 13 throwing for a .957 FA (league average is .974 for SS). They seemed to come in spurts. He had just one error in August.

He played 148 games at short, 11 at DH.

As a baserunner, FanGraphs had him at 6.9 runs better than average (7th best in the league). 25 steals, with just 1 time caught, helps that out.

Bo hit:

  • First: 10 times.
  • Second: 90 times.
  • Third: 8 times.
  • Fourth: 51 times.

Bo's favourite team to face? He hit .342/.370/.711 with 8 home runs against the Yankees. So how do you get Tom to be a big fan? Hit well against the Yankees. He also hit the Mets hard (in just 3 games).

Least favourite? He hit .154/.185/.269 in 7 games against the Royals.

Before the season, I asked if he would be a 20/20 guy this year. 73% of us got that one right. I also asked if he would have a walk rate above 6.6%. Unfortunately, 66% of us got that one right.

If he would take more of the walks offered him, maybe he could get more hittable pitches. It seems when he gets to two strikes, he chases everything. It might be cool and all that he can foul off a pitch that is 6 inches off the plate, but it doesn't make any baseball sense to do it. All that happens is the pitcher throws one 9 inches off the plate the next time. Controlling the strike zone would help him out.

That's not to say he isn't a terrific ballplayer. We are incredibly lucky to get to watch both Bo and Vlad. I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them turn out to be 1 and 2 at the top of our list of top Blue Jays position players before the end of their careers.

I do have some worries that Bo's rather violent swing won't age well, but I think Bo is smart enough to adjust some. Or at least I hope so.

I'm still in the Bo should move to second base camp. I think the team would have been better with Bo at second and Semien at short, but I agree with the idea that you don't move Bo for someone on a one-year contract. If the Jays were to sign Marcus for four years, I'd be all for the two of them switching spots.

We looked at Vlad Jr.'s home run count compared to Vlad Sr. Bo has a big head start over his dad. Bo has 45 home runs. Dante didn't hit his first MLB home run until his age 25 season (and only had 3 that year). It seems more and more likely that Bo will finish with more than the 274 that his dad totalled.

Bo seems like a great guy, and a fun teammate. His piece in the Players’ Tribune was one of the best things I’ve read this year.


For his 2021 season, I would grade Bo Bichette an

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