Update: Blue Jays OF Kevin Pillar is still not a human being


Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar continues to amaze. Just when you think that we’ve seen all there is to see in 2015 from the human highlight reel, he on-ups himself. This one might fall short of his catch over the left-field wall at the Rogers Centre, as most catches will, but it’s got to earn some serious consideration for number two. 

Even mark Buehrle, the even-keeled veteran who’s seen it all, couldn’t help but giggle on the mound. These have become commonplace for Pillar, and in that, perhaps we’ve lose sight of just how out-of-the-ordinary his outfield performance truly is.

Pillar’s range is downright breathtaking at times, but there’s more to range than pure speed. If that were the case, players like Ezequiel Carrera and Ben Revere would have elite defensive potential just because they’re fast. Instead, Pillar’s speed is combined with a decisive aggression, quick jump and willingness to extend fully whenever necessary.

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According to FanGraphs, this leaves Pillar 4th in the bigs with 13.8 RngR. He also ranks 8th in UZR at 13.2, and we’re not just talking about outfielders here. We’re talking all positions.

Pillar always had some level of plus potential defensively as he rose through the Blue Jays system, but he was never viewed as having a blue-chip tool in the field. Nothing close to what we’ve seen over the past six months, at least.

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Currently sitting at a 4.1 WAR per FanGraphs calculations, Pillar is a slight boost in power away from being  a top-level value outfielder in the American League. That WAR currently puts him 8th in the AL, just 0.2 WAR behind teammate Jose Bautista for 7th and 1.0 WAR behind J.D. Martinez for a spot in the top four. Not bad for Toronto’s fourth outfielder entering 2015.

Entering play on Friday, Pillar’s offensive slash line sat at .275 / .312 / .379, and while his 12 home runs have been a revelation of sorts, his marching orders entering 2016 will like be to drive the ball with more consistency. He’s put himself in a fantastic position already by cutting down on his strikeouts (23% in 2014 to 13.5%) and learning to take a monthly walk.

A strong defensive game from certain players can often go unnoticed, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Besides, if we go a season without mentioning a player’s defense, that means it was fairly void of errors. Pillar’s excellence has been impossible to ignore, though, with countless home runs and extra base hits denied.

Those plays have tipped the Blue Jays between a win and a loss along the way, so if the season wraps up late tomorrow with the Blue Jays edging out Kansas City for top spot in the American League, thank Superman.

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