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The season that was: Kevin Kiermaier

A look at Kiermaier’s 2023 season

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Blue Jays signed Kevin Kiermaier to a one-year free-agent contract in December 2022. He got $9 million (plus a $750,000 incentive bonus based on time on the roster).

Kiermaier had spent his 10-year MLB career with the Rays. He was coming off a season where he was limited to 63 games and a career-low .649 OPS. I felt he would likely be a fourth/outfielder or platoon outfield. I thought he would top out at 100ish games.

I was happy the signing signalled that the team planned to move George Springer to a corner outfield spot. Not that Springer was bad in center, but I felt the move would allow him to stay more injury-free. And that Kiermaier was Gold Glove level in CF didn’t hurt.

I also figured they would need to pick up someone else who could play center the 30-50% of the time Kevin would need to be out of the lineup.

Anyway, Kiermaier played more than and performed better than I expected.

Standard Batting
33 129 408 370 58 98 21 6 8 36 14 1 29 86 .265 .322 .419 .741 104 9 4 1 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/5/2023.

Baseball Reference has hit at a 3.9 WAR. FanGraphs 2.2, giving him a value of $17.4 million to the team. That’s a huge difference in WAR values.

He had a .320 wOBA and a 104 wRC+.

Kiermaier’s BABIP was .321 (up from .290 last year).

His walk rate was 7.1% (up from 6.3). The strikeout rate was the same as last year at 21.1% (down from 27.6).

Kevin’s line-drive rate decreased slightly from last year (19.2% from 20.0). The ground ball rate was up (55.6% from 52.4). Fly ball rate was down a bit (25.2% from 27.6). Fewer of his fly balls left the park (11.1% from 17.5).

His soft contact was down (15.9% from 17.2), and hard contact was down slightly (26.0% from 26.9).

Kiermaier was much the same vs. RHP (.260/.321/.431) and LHP (.281/.326/.382).

He was better on the road (.286/.327/.437) than on at home (.238/.316/.396).

He was slightly better in the first half (.269/.329/.420) than in the second half (.258/.311/.417) of the season.

Kiermaier by month:

  • April: .274/.321/.411 with 1 home run, 4 walks, 19 strikeouts in 23 games.
  • May: .366/.410/.634 with 3 home runs, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts in 21 games.
  • June: .154/.214/.231 with 0 home runs, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts in 22 games.
  • July: .262/.352/.344 with 1 home run, 7 walks, 16 strikeouts in 23 games.
  • August: .237/.275/.342 with 1 home runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts in 15 games.
  • September: .253/.293/.453 with 2 home runs, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts in 25 games.

May/June is why I’m not a fan of moving guys in the order based on streaks. When you realize a player is hot, he’s back hitting .154.

Kevin hit .222/.302/.367 with RISP.

On defense?

He played 981.1 innings, with 3 errors, 2 fielding, and 1 throwing.

FanGraphs had him at a +7.9 UZR/150, the best in the AL for CFers with 900+ innings.

Outs Above Average had him at a +13, tied for first in the AL with Luis Robert.

All of that confirms the eye test. He looked terrific with the glove.

As a baserunner, Kevin FanGraphs has him at -2.7 runs compared to the average player. There were too many times when he was out on the basepaths. A guy with his speed and the number of years he’s played in the MLB, there is no excuse for that. I don’t know. Occasionally, he didn’t understand that the other team was allowed to tag him out.

He was terrific as a base stealer, with 14 steals, and caught just once. That’s a success rate I like. But that he is good at stealing and still a negative on the basepaths is hard to believe.

Where he hit in the batting order (in games he started):

  • Sixth: 1 time.
  • Seventh: 6 times.
  • Eighth: 13 times.
  • Ninth: 91 times.

The team was 61-50 in his starts.

His longest hitting streak was 8 games. The longest on-base streak was 15 games. The longest he went without a home run was 29 games.

Favourite team to face? He hit .385/.429/.692 with a home run in 5 games against the A’s.

Least Favourite? He hit .071/.133/.143 in 6 games against the Rangers.

I enjoyed watching Kiermaier. It was great to have a center fielder who could run down anything hit in his area.

Saying that, I think Varsho is almost his equal in center.

I’d be okay with Kevin returning to the Jays, but Keith Law figures he will get a two or three-year contract, and I’d only want him back for a year.


Would you re-sign Kiermaier if the cost is two years and $25 million?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    (188 votes)
  • 40%
    (126 votes)
314 votes total Vote Now

The base running mystifies me. He’s been a positive baserunner (by FanGraphs numbers) every year of his career. I don’t know why he was in the negatives this year. The team’s emphasis on ‘being aggressive’? He did seem to take chances at the wrong time on occasion. He was fun to watch go for a triple.

Before the season, we asked:

  • Kiermaier’s over/under on games played 100? 61% were right saying over.
  • Over/under on times, we would see the clip of him stealing Kirk's cheat sheet was 100. I didn’t see it near as often as I thought. Sportsnet used some restraint. 60% took the under.
  • Over/under on homers at 9. 43% were right taking the under (he had 8).
  • Which outfield would you rather watch? 83% Varsho, Kiermaier, and Springer got 83% of the vote, over Gurriel, Springer, and Hernandez. I’m not sure we’d see the same answer now.
  • Will the Jays re-sign Kevin at the end of the season? 69% said no. We don’t know the answer yet, but I’m thinking no.


For his 2023 season, I would grade Kevin Kiermaier an

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    (78 votes)
  • 46%
    (142 votes)
  • 23%
    (72 votes)
  • 3%
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
307 votes total Vote Now