With just 20 big league games under his belt, Bo Bichette has already made an impact, and has even surpassed a few teammates in a meaningful category.
If you’re the old-school type who likes to scoff at stats like WAR, then this article may not be for you. However, I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic in any way, so this might be a good way to ease yourself into it as well.
What I do know is that I was looking at the bWAR and fWAR numbers for the Blue Jays yesterday, and what I found legitimately shocked me.
In case you’re unfamiliar, WAR stands for “Wins Above Replacement” and is a widely used measurement of player value these days. To dumb it down (so I understand it), it’s a stat the says how many more wins a players club earns because of their presence, when compared to that of a replacement-level player. For example, Trent Thornton is rated by Fangraphs as a 0.1, meaning he is just slightly above the average value for a big league starting pitcher.
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There are two websites that track this value, and each has their own method of measurement. The aforementioned Fangraphs has a fWAR rating, and Baseball Reference goes with bWAR. They are different, although based around the same principle.
Now that I’ve explained all that, let’s get back to what surprised me. When I looked at the young players on the Blue Jays roster, I was surprised that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ranked as low as he does, that’s also partially because he’s not rated as a superior defender at this stage. That said, he’s rated a 0.6 in fWAR, and 1.9 for bWAR, which shows you that there is indeed a difference between the two systems.
I scanned further down the Fangraphs list looking for Bo Bichette, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I looked again, and then realized that he’s actually above (!) Vlad Jr. with 0.8 fWAR in just 20 games played. I know it’s been a literal record-breaking start to Bichette’s career, but he’s provided insane value in his first three weeks. I should note that Eric Sogard lead the lead according to Fangraphs with 2.1 fWAR, followed by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with 1.9 (1.7 bWAR), and then Danny Jansen at 1.6 (1.2 bWAR).
He hasn’t quite passed Vlad Jr. on the bWAR charts, coming in at a ranking of 1.1, but it’s entirely possible that he could surpass his younger teammate before season’s end, especially if Guerrero’s knee discomfort keeps him out for more than a few days. Shortstop is seen as a more “valuable” position than third base, but still, this is impressive stuff from the 21-year-old rookie.
Regardless of who has better WAR ratings or numbers at season’s end, the Blue Jays should have a bright future in their lineup that includes the dynamic duo, as well as other talents like Gurriel Jr., Jansen, Cavan Biggio, and more. If these kids keep playing as well as they have over the last three weeks, this rebuild may not be so long and painful after all.