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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Cavan Biggio

MLB: OCT 01 Orioles at Blue Jays Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The good news is that the owners and players actually talked for a reasonable amount of time yesterday. I don’t know if there was any movement on any substantial issues. Apparently, the owners have backed off the idea of cutting back the number of minor league players, but that’s not one of the major issues.

Coming into 2021, Cavan Biggio was building a pretty decent start to his career. In his first 159 MLB games, he hit .240/.368/.430 with 24 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 112 walks and 184 strikeouts and totalled a 5.0 bWAR.

His defense, at second base, was serviceable, not terrific but you could live with it. He also could fill in at other spots, if one was desperate.

In spring training he talked a good game of trying to be more aggressive at the plate (at the right moments). Cavan has seemed like a player who was smart enough to make adjustments to improve. In the minors, he changed from a player who, basically, waited for a walk (taking a lot of walks, as well as standing there looking at strike three way too often), to a guy who could turn on an inside pitch often enough to keep pitchers honest.

And he carried that over to the majors, 24 home runs in his first 159 games is pretty decent.

Sure he would drive us crazy by taking hittable pitches, and a strikeout rate above 25% isn’t something we enjoyed.

So, we did look forward to the changes he planned to make.

The season didn’t start well. After our game on May 21st, Cavan was hitting .205/.315/.315 and woke up the next morning on the IL with a ‘cervical spine ligament sprain’. That, I think, in layman's terms, is a pain in the neck. This may have explained his slow start or, perhaps, trying to change your approach at the plate isn’t easy to do at the major league level.

When he came back from the IL, things didn’t really improve. Cavan finished the season with a .224/.322/.356 line with 7 home runs, 37 walks and 78 strikeouts. He missed most of August and September with another trip to the IL.

Add in that his defense, at his new position third base, was far less than serviceable. UZR had him at a -8.8 at the position. I thought he improved as the season went on, but there is a lot of space between ‘improved’ and what we need from a third baseman.

So, going into the 2022 season, there are a lot of questions:

  • How much of his poor batting do we write off as being due to his injuries?
  • How much of his poor batting do we write off as being part of his attempt to change his hitting philosophy (for lack of a better term)?
  • How much of his defensive struggles were due to the injury? We complained about his arm at third, but he only had 3 throwing errors against 6 fielding errors.
  • What position does he play this year? Third? Second? Or is he a utility player?
  • Whatever position he plays, can he play it at a major league level?
  • Or does he have a major league job at all?

PECOTA sees him playing 136 games and 476 at-bats, so it sees him as a regular. They have him hitting .230/.341/.397 with 75 walks, 140 strikeouts, 17 home runs, 10 stolen bases, for a 1.7 WAR.

Personally, I think he’ll have to do somewhat better than that. He has a fair bit of competition for a job this year. Espinal Santiago looked pretty good with the bat and the glove last year. Kevin Smith and Jordan Groshans each had good seasons last year, and each is pretty much major league-ready. Even Otto Lopez could slide into a utility spot with a good spring (if we are lucky enough to have spring training this year).

Add in that most of us would like the team to make a move to fill either second or third base and Cavan has some work to do.

I will admit to being a fan. Cavan, at least before the 2021 season, seemed to be a guy who got the absolute most out of his physical talent. He seems bright, he takes action to improve on his weaknesses. In some ways, he gives off a very Rance Mulliniks vibe to me.

Poll

If the over/under on Biggio’s at bats is 400 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    OVer
    (147 votes)
  • 50%
    Under
    (147 votes)
294 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Biggio will get most of his playing time at

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Second Base
    (254 votes)
  • 6%
    Third Base
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    Outfield
    (6 votes)
  • 8%
    Triple-A
    (26 votes)
307 votes total Vote Now

Poll

If we set the over/under on Biggio’s bWAR at 1.7 I’d take the

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Over
    (174 votes)
  • 38%
    Under
    (109 votes)
283 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who gets more playing time this season?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Cavan Biggio
    (182 votes)
  • 39%
    Santiago Espinal
    (117 votes)
299 votes total Vote Now