One of the key pieces missing from the Blue Jays offence in recent years has been a good fit in the leadoff spot. That finally appears to be solved with Bo Bichette’s arrival.
While the Blue Jays were pursuing a World Series title in 2015 and 2016, one of the “problems” with their offence was that they relied too heavily on the home run ball. It’s something the Jays have tried to get away from for a while, or at least work on becoming a more well-rounded offence.
The next generation of this team has arrived, and so far they’re hitting home runs at a pretty impressive clip. However, there have been very encouraging signs from several players when it comes to having that well-rounded approach at the plate. The most recent example would be Bo Bichette, who has been on an absolute tear to start his MLB career. He also may be the long-awaited answer to the question of who to put at the top of the lineup.
There have been some great leadoff hitters throughout franchise history such as Devon White, Rickey Henderson, Shannon Stewart, and others, but it’s been a bit of a missing piece in recent years. Jose Reyes was a decent fit during his short tenure in Toronto, but he couldn’t replicate the kind of stats he put up with the Mets early in his career. That’s the type of table-setter that Bichette could turn out to be, or maybe even better.
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He’s on a historic hitting streak to start his career, collecting two more hits against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night with his family in the crowd. He started off the game with a double for the second consecutive night, and then added a home run in his second plate appearance, also for the second time in two nights, and already his third as a big leaguer.
Baseball has evolved a great deal in recent seasons, and as a result, teams aren’t so worried about putting a “speed guy” at the top of the lineup, at least not compared to past decades around the game. There has been more emphasis on getting the best players the most at-bats, and some teams have disregarded speed in the leadoff spot altogether. However, Bichette should have a nice combination of the two generations, as he looks like he’ll be the type to hit for both average and power, and he also possesses a pretty good set of wheels as well. He was 15-20 stealing bases in 56 games in Triple-A, and he also 32 bases in Double-A last season.
More importantly than being able to run, Bichette is proving himself to be a real threat at the plate already, and he’s only just begun his big league career. He’s going to inevitably cool off, and maybe even go through a slump that’s bad enough that he’ll need a refresher in Triple-A like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., or Rowdy Tellez. That’s all part of the learning curve in the big leagues, and part of going through a long 162 game season.
However, there’s little doubt in my mind that Bichette is going to star in the big leagues, as he’s already filling up the highlight reels in his first eight games, and has shown the confidence and poise of someone much more experienced than the 21-year-old. For Blue Jays fans frustrated by the way the trade deadline went down, it’s been a great distraction. For those of us that have been waiting for a true leadoff hitter? It’s almost priceless.