After seeing Ronald Acuna of the Braves join the 30/30 club, I’m willing to bet Bo Bichette will do the same some time in the next few years.
The 21-year-old collected three hits in a loss to the Seattle Mariners, and incredibly it was his 13th multi-hit game in his first 24 starts as a big leaguer. He hasn’t even been a Blue Jay for a month and already he’s written his name into the franchise record books and has provided a big jolt of excitement for the rebuilding franchise.
I have no doubt that Bichette will put his name all over the franchise record book before his time in Toronto is over, but there’s one area in particular that I think he could challenge for, maybe even as soon as next season when he’ll have an opportunity get a full campaign under his belt. I’m talking about the 30/30 club, which is a pretty exclusive group across baseball history, and one that has only two Blue Jays members.
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For those that don’t know what the 30/30 club is, it’s when a player hits 30 or more home runs in one season, and also steals at least 30 bases. Shawn Green was the first in franchise history to accomplish the feat in 1998 when he hit 35 home runs and swiped 35 bags, and Jose Cruz Jr. was the second and most recent, hitting 34 home runs and stealing 32 bases in 2001.
While the Blue Jays have had several mashers capable of hitting 30 or more home runs over the last couple of decades, they’ve rarely employed a player with the potential power and speed combination that Bichette possesses. He already has seven home runs in his first 104 at-bats, and he’s stolen two bases since debuting at the highest level. I realize that his power production likely isn’t sustainable, and that he’ll need to be a more frequent threat on the bases to push for 30 steals, but I don’t think it’s out of reach at all for the shortstop of the present and future in Toronto.
Bichette had 16 stolen bases in 21 attempts while in the minor leagues this season, and he had a career high of 32 in 43 chances in 2018 while playing 131 games in Double-A. He hasn’t exactly smashed the 30 steal mark during his professional career yet, but keep in mind that he only played 323 games as a minor leaguer before he was deemed ready to face the best competition in the world. Most players his age are still in A-ball, so while Bichette is already showing his All-Star potential, we have to remember that he’s still learning.
Stealing bases in the big leagues is a different animal than doing it in the minor leagues, as the catchers usually have premium arms, and most pitchers have honed their ability to make pickoff moves. That’s a big part of why Bichette is only 2-6 in stolen base attempts so far with the Blue Jays, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t do it at this level. The speed is certainly there, and he’s proven himself to be an intuitive player in nearly every other facet of the game.
That part of his game may come after the hitting and defensive tools develop, but I’m confident that Bichette will prove himself to be a big threat on the bases in time. Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves was the latest to join that club, marking just the 62nd time the feat has been accomplished. I’m willing to bet at some point in the next two to four seasons, Bichette will join that list as well. It takes a special player to put together a season like that, but I believe young Bo has what it takes.