The Blue Jays have really benefitted from Bo Bichette’s performance at the plate, and the 22-year-old may have found a permanent home hitting second in the order.
Charlie Montoyo has faced a fair bit of criticism for his decision making so far in 2020, but one change he made has definitely been working out.
Ever since the Blue Jays flip-flopped Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in the batting order, the former has been on an absolute tear at the plate. Bichette made his first seven starts of the season in his typical spot as the leadoff hitter, and was slashing .273/.273/.474 over his first 33 at-bats. Biggio didn’t get off to a roaring start either, and he hasn’t really found his stride as the leadoff hitter yet, but I still think that Montoyo has stumbled into a set-up that should become permanent. Since the move, Bichette entered Saturday night’s game slashing .462/.517/1.000. That’s obviously not sustainable, but it’s clearly worked to help him get his bat going.
I really believed that the Blue Jays had finally found their long-lost leadoff hitter in Bichette, and I have no doubt that he could be an excellent job in the role. That said, I think there’s a very good argument that he should become the permanent #2 hitter in the order. I also have a ton of faith in Biggio turning things around, and I think he’s a good fit as a leadoff hitter with his ability to get on base.
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As for Bichette, I think there are all kinds of reasons that he should be hitting second, but for today I’ll focus on three main ideas.
He’s an aggressive hitter, and that’s not ideal as a leadoff hitter
As I’ve already stated, I think Bichette is more than capable of being an above-average leadoff hitter. That said, I don’t think that would be in the best interest of the team, or for the player.
As I’ve watched him over his first 60 games as a big leaguer, one of the things I love about him is his confidence, and the aggressive nature of his approach. I wouldn’t say that he’s reckless as a hitter, but there’s no doubt that he’s at the plate looking to hit. Like I said, I love that about him and I think that’s a trait that will ultimately make him successful as a big leaguer, but it’s not necessarily ideal out of the leadoff spot.
It might be a bit of “old school” thinking, but there are benefits to having your leadoff hitter work the count a bit, giving the rest of the lineup a look at what the opposing starter might be bringing to the table on any given day. That’s a skill that Biggio thrives at naturally, as he likes to work the count, and he’s rather good at it. On the other hand, Bichette is a lot more aggressive that way. Flip-flopping the two takes that pressure off of Bichette, and gives him a situation where he doesn’t have to consider that sort of thing.
More RBI opportunities
It might just be once a game that he’ll be guaranteed to hit second in the order, but that at-bat could make a big difference for the Blue Jays.
Think about how many times Bichette has started a game with an extra-base hit. There are no guarantees that Biggio would have been on base, but a walk and a double could give the Blue Jays a first inning lead on a fairly regular basis, and that’s a tremendous advantage. The more we’ve seen from Bichette, the more obvious it has become that he could be a huge run producer in the middle of the lineup.
Your best hitter should hit second
There are plenty of different ways to set up a lineup, with new analytical thinking changing the way managers operate all the time. That said, I feel like we’ve seen a shift toward teams using their best hitter in the 2-spot in the lineup, as the Blue Jays did with Josh Donaldson while he was playing in Toronto.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no argument for anyone other than Bichette as the Blue Jays’ best hitter right now. It’s possible that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. develops and surpasses Bichette at the plate at some point down the line, but right now there’s no comparison. Bichette offers an average-power-speed combination that is hard to find, and he’s doing it as a 22-year-old who also plays a premium defensive position.
I have a feeling that Charlie Montoyo is going to play with the batting order quite a bit this year, and with a young team that is likely susceptible to hot and cold streaks, it makes sense. However, when it comes to Bichette, I think the second-year manager may as well starting putting his shortstop’s name in ink in the second spot in the order.