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The Season That Was: Chris Bassitt

A look at Chris Bassitt’s 2023 season.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Chris Bassitt was a big free-agent signing, getting a 3-year, $63 million contract in December 2022.

He had played 8 years in the majors, mostly for the A’s, but spent 2022 with the Mets, where he went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 30 starts after a pre-season trade with Oakland.

Chris is one of those guys who seems to have figured things out after turning 30. Before his age-30 season, Bassitt pitched in 40 games, 30 starts, a total of 191.1 innings. From age 30 until now, he’s pitched in 129 games, 126 starts and 746 innings. Guys who don’t throw a lot of innings in their 20s tend to age well.

Bassitt looked to be our third or fourth starter coming into the season. As it turned out, he led the staff in innings pitched and wins.

Standard Pitching
34 16 8 3.60 33 33 1 1 200.0 176 88 80 28 59 2 186 12 3 4 826 118 4.28
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2023.

He’s one of just two AL starters to reach 200 innings (Gerrit Cole was the other).

Baseball Reference has Chris at a 2.5 WAR and FanGraphs at 2.6, giving him a value of $21.1 million for the Jays (the Jays paid him $19 million).

He had a 4.28 FIP and a 4.21 xFIP, a fair bit higher than his ERA.

Chris’s BABIP was .274, down a bit from his .282 of last year. 76.5% of baserunners were stranded, down a bit from the 77.2 of last year.

His line drive rate was up a little (21.0%, from 17.2), ground ball rate was down a tiny bit (42.3%, from 48.8), and fly ball rate was up (37.7%, from 34.0).

His strikeout rate was almost exactly the same as last year’s (22.5%, from 22.4), and his walk rate was up (7.1%, from 6.6).

Bassitt’s soft contact was way down from last year (16.5%, from 22.1), and hard contact was up a bit (28.5%, from 25.2).

Left-handed hitters (..265/.338/.504) hit him better than right-handers (.208/.263/.504). That’s a much bigger split than his career numbers.

Bassitt was much better at home (2.86 ERA, batters hit .196/274/.307) than on the road (4.50, batters hit .277/.327/.507). But he was 8-4 both at home and on the road.

And his second half (2.89, .231/.283/.381) was better than his first half (4.19, .238/.312/.421).

Bassitt by month:

  • April: 6 starts, 3-2, 5.18. Batters hit .207/.310/.405 with 6 home runs.
  • May: 5 starts, 2-2, 2.43. Batters hit .208/.291/.392 with 5 home runs.
  • June: 6 starts, 3-1, 4.59. Batters hit .258/313/.424 with 5 home runs.
  • July: 6 starts, 2-1, 3.82. Batters hit .285/.331/.423 with 4 home runs.
  • August: 5 starts, 3-1, 3.03. Batters hit .205/.268/.419 with 5 home runs.
  • September: 5 starts, 3-1, 2.60. Batters hit .240/.279/.357 with 3 home runs.

He didn’t start the season great, but he got better as the season went on. Chris seemed to have some issues with the pitch clock early but got used to it as the season went on.

The Jays were 20-13 in his starts. The team averaged 4.71 runs per start in his games. They scored 3 or fewer runs in 8 of his starts, but they were never shut out in any of them.

Days of rest:

  • 4 days, 15 games: 3.02, .225/297/377.
  • 5 days, 15 games: 3.80, .246/.306/.404.
  • 6 or more days, 3 games: 5.40, .227/.278/.530.

One of the few starters who didn’t do better with an extra day of rest.

Times through the order:

  • 1st: Batters hit .225/288/395.
  • 2nd: Batters hit .253/331/422.
  • 3rd: Batters hit .241/288/.419.
  • He faced 12 batters in the fourth time through giving up no hits and no walks with 4 strikeouts.

You have to like a guy who stays strong as the game progresses.

By Catcher:

  • Alejandro Kirk: 168 innings, 2.52 ERA. Batters hit .208/.274/.354.
  • Danny Jansen: 21 innings, 10.29 ERA. Batters hit .387/.443/.720.
  • Tyler Heineman: 11 innings, 7.36 ERA. Batters hit .289/.333/.533.

He did well with Kirk but a small sample size with the other two.

Bassitt’s best game by GameScore was an 89 in his complete game shutout on May 12th in Toronto against the Braves.

Worst start? You can likely remember it: his first start of the season, a 4 GameScore, 3.1 innings, 10 hits, 9 earned, no walks or strikeouts, 4 home runs allowed. It took a long time for us to get past that first impression.

He averaged 6.1 innings per start.

There were only 11 complete game shutouts in the AL this season. Cole and Framber Valdez had two each, and 7 other guys had 1. There were only 20 complete games.

I expected Chris to be an ‘innings eater’ type. Be a bit better than the average pitcher, but mostly be that guy who can give us 6 innings a start and give up 2-3 runs. But he was better than I expected.

I’ll admit I enjoyed watching Bassitt pitch. He’s one of those guys who throws several different pitches, some of them in several ways. FanGraphs lists a four-seam fastball (averaging 92.5 mph), a cutter (88.0), a splitter, sinker (92.0), change-up, slider and curve. He’s a thinking man’s pitcher, which is likely why he had a little difficulty getting used to the pitch clock.

I figured he and Pete Walker would devise a plan to help close the gap in his left/right splits, but that didn’t happen. I’d imagine that will be high on the agenda for next season.

He turns 35 in February. I hope he will continue to pitch well through his mid-30s, but things can change quickly at his age. I’d have to think that this season is likely at the top level of performance we can expect, but then that’s pretty good.

He seems a very likeable guy:

And the $10,000 donation to Jays Care for every Jays win in a game he pitched in helps make me like him.


For his 2023 season, I’d grade Chris Bassitt an

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