Blue Jays: It’s Kevin Pillar’s birthday, let’s watch some catches
Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar turns 27 today, giving Toronto fans a fine excuse to gather round and relive some of Superman’s finest moments in 2015
It’s fascinating how quickly we’re able to accept something as spectacular as Kevin Pillar’s defense as being ‘normal’. That’s just what happened in 2015, though, as the overwhelming consistency of his highlight-reel grabs became a nightly tradition. Often to the point of a blooper off the bat inspiring the feeling of “Here comes Kevin”.
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Pillar celebrates his 27th birthday today, and what a calendar year it’s been. He’s familiar with the deepest depths of John Gibbons‘ doghouse, and as a 32nd round pick that was never highly-regarded as a prospect, his rise has been spectacular. There’s also reason to wonder where Pillar would be today if Michael Saunders hadn’t found that sprinkler head in Dunedin, but opportunity comes in all forms.
On the season, PIllar posted a UZR of 15.2 with an incredible Range Runs Above Average (RngR) of 13.6. Along with a .996 fielding percentage dented by just two errors, Pillar was able to post an outstanding 4.3 WAR by FanGraphs standards. It truly was Superman’s year. So to celebrate it, enjoy a cut-up of some of Pillar’s finest moments from Bryce Nickerson on YouTube. [There’s music off the top, so watch your speaker volume]
It wasn’t a bad year at the plate for Pillar, either, where he posted a slash line of .278 / .314 / .399 with 12 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Seeing Pillar bump that slugging percentage closer to the mid-400s would be fantastic next year with some more extra-base hits, and he certainly has the hand quickness to work with at the dish.
He now enters 2016 as the entrenched every-day man in centre, and deservedly so, with Dalton Pompey most likely headed for a start in AAA Buffalo to continue his development into an impact Major Leaguer. Sustaining this level of highlight-reel defense may be difficult, but we can’t wait to see him try.
So join us in wishing a Happy Birthday to Superman, and banter away. What was your favorite Kevin Pillar moment from 2015, outside of the wall-climb on Jackie Robinson Day?