Bo Bichette showed the Blue Jays and the rest of the big leagues that he was ready for the challenge last year, and he’s ready to do it again.
Can you imagine how long last season would have felt if the Blue Jays hadn’t had some exciting rookies making their MLB debuts? A 67-win season dragged on long enough despite the debuts from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and eventually Bo Bichette, but their arrivals gave us plenty to be excited about, especially after the All-Star break.
Bichette was the last of the trio to make his debut, and in case you forgot, he took the league by storm in his first few weeks, breaking records for multi-hit games, and letting everyone know that he’d arrived. And as much as it might have come as a surprise to many of us, I don’t think the 21-year-old saw it going any other way.
He’s got pretty much the same attitude entering the 2020 campaign, with a quiet cockiness that many of the best players in baseball carry with them. I won’t go as far as calling it or him arrogant, as I don’t think that’s the case at all, and there’s nothing wrong with having confidence. In fact, I’m sure it’s a crucial part of succeeding at the MLB level, and one of the reasons that Bichette thrived so quickly after his debut.
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It was very interesting to hear comments from Sportsnet’s Arash Mandani yesterday while he was speaking with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on the Fan 590. The trio discussed Bichette’s debut last year, the fact that his father, 4-time MLB All-Star Dante Bichette, has been hanging around camp this year, and Bichette’s lifelong experience around the game, and how that may have helped him last season as a rookie.
In fact, Mandani took it one step further and mentioned that he had asked Bichette what he had learned last year during his first half-season in the big leagues, and apparently the answer was “no”.
Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as a one word answer, and it sounds like Bichette elaborated a bit, but it also painted the picture of a young man who understood the challenges of being a big leaguer before he arrived, and that’s not all that surprising given his background.
"“There was some more media obligations, I learned that there’s some distractions when it come to interviews, and fans, and autographs and things that are going on. You learn to say no a little bit here and there, and that’s okay, and you go about your business.”"
As I mentioned above, Bichette has plenty of confidence, and it’s on display with these comments. However, just as I said before, I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about here, and in fact, I’d argue that Bichette’s attitude gives us more reason to be excited about the season ahead of him. I especially like some follow up comments that Mandani shared, talking about goals for the 2020 campaign.
"“(He says) I want to be great, and I understand the things that I have to do to be great. But I’m not putting pressure on myself, I’m not putting numbers and goals for myself in terms of what I want to see on the baseball card. It’s about figuring out what I have to do to improve, and that’s it.”"
It’s refreshing to hear such a young player talk about his goals for the upcoming season in this way, but that comes with the maturity of understanding the game, and from being around it for literally his entire life. Mandani goes on to say, “I guess if you go with that kind of mindset toward things, and it’s not about hitting ‘x’ number or ‘x’ average, maybe that’s how you end up becoming a superstar in the game”, and I definitely think there’s something to the idea.
The Florida native understands that numbers don’t always represent growth or success on the ball diamond, and that letting them get in your head too much can be detrimental. Instead, he’s focused only on “improving”, and with a keen understanding of what it means to be effective, I’m sure that’s the right way to look at things. It’s also a very mature approach, especially for a player with 46 MLB games under hit belt.
That being said, Bichette didn’t really feel like a rookie when he arrived last season, and I’m sure it won’t be long until it will be hard to remember who played shortstop before him in Toronto. The kid was born ready for this, and thankfully, the Blue Jays are the ones that ended up with him back in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft.