Blue Jays: Bo Bichette and the Underrated Statistic
20-year-old Bo Bichette is one of the brightest prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. A right-handed hitting phenom, the Florida native seems poised to become a future All-Star north of the border, destroying minor league pitching one level at a time.
Upon being drafted, many were quick to point out flaws in Bo Bichette. The son of four-time All-Star outfielder Dante Bichette, Bo had a kink in his swing that some considered unnatural. Despite this, he was chosen 66th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2016 draft.
When you look at his numbers, several figures jump out. Across 448 at-bats split between Lansing and Dunedin, Bichette slashed an unreal .362/.423/.565 with 14 dingers and 41 doubles. Endless articles have been written about Bichette, all with the same thesis: this kid is good.
Even though his offensive praise is absolutely merited, there’s one aspect of Bo’s game that seems to go unnoticed. An ability that not many All-Stars possess, and an ability that seems to be the hallmark of five-tool players everywhere – an ability to steal bases.
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In 110 games last season, Bichette stole 22 bags. So far this year, in just 11 games, he’s stolen five. Perhaps even more impressive is when he chooses to steal. This year, he’s been caught just once and has notably run on some of the best catchers in the league.
Say what you want about this year’s Toronto Blue Jays. Even though they’ve won games in impressive fashion, they sit tied for 17th in the majors in stolen bases. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, two prominent division rivals, sit 13th and 17th respectively. Fellow American League contenders, the Houston Astros, and Cleveland Indians, currently rank 8th and 4th respectively, entering Friday night’s action.
Speed is a skill that is often overlooked when discussing the makeup of a baseball team. I’m not suggesting that Bo Bichette should be rushed to the majors simply because of his ability to steal bases. I think we can all agree it’s best to wait a bit and let him play at least a full season in the minor leagues. That way, he can prove himself and can avoid the complex and obscure regulations surrounding MLB service time.
However, it’s important that baseball folks keep Bo’s speed in mind. In the past, we’ve seen AL MVPs Mike Trout (16 SB in 2014, 30 SB in 2016) and Jose Altuve (32 SB in 2017) use speed to help their teams win games. Regardless of the perceived minute importance of speed, it’s an undeniable element of some of the game’s superstars.
In closing, Bichette’s ability to run will probably not transform him into a significantly better ballplayer. In fact, it might not even become part of his game at all once he reaches the majors. Whatever the case may be, it’s always nice to have the stolen base as an option in your back pocket, especially when the guy doing the stealing is already a fantastic hitter.