Toronto Blue Jays 2020 Report Card: Randal Grichuk
By Ty Hudec
Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Toronto Blue Jays report cards based on how each player performed in 2020. In this edition, we take a look at Randal Grichuk.
Seven years into his big league career, Randal Grichuk is a relatively known commodity at this point. The 2020 season looked much like Grichuk’s first two years in Toronto, and his four seasons in St. Louis prior to that. The Blue Jays everyday centre fielder showed solid power at the plate, with high strikeout totals, decent batting splits, and below-average defense.
With a young lineup full of high potential players that are prone to suffer through their own growing pains, you need veteran players like Grichuk around to steady the ship. However, the main problem with Grichuk over the years has revolved around his consistency at the plate. His streaky bat has prevented him from taking the next step in his career and that storyline held true once again this season.
Year in Review
Grichuk appeared in 55 games for the Blue Jays in 2020. In Charlie Montoyo’s line-up, Grichuk bounced around all year long, batting anywhere from second to seventh in the order. Defensively, Grichuk stayed put for the first time in his career. He made all 47 of his defensive starts in centre field, with the rest of his appearances coming as the Jays DH.
Early on, Grichuk was struggling to find his power touch despite batting for a solid average. Then on August 14th, the floodgates opened. Grichuk hit his first home run in a blowout win against the Tampa Bay Rays to kickstart a red-hot two-week run. The 29-year-old hit nine home runs with 22 RBI and a .324 batting average in 15 games to help carry the Blue Jays offense after Bo Bichette went down. That streak was highlighted by a two-run walk-off homer against the Baltimore Orioles on August 28th.
Things cooled off after that, however. Grichuk went 22 games without another home run before hitting three more long bombs over the final week of the season. His batting average also dipped down considerably in September.
By the Numbers
For the year, Grichuk finished with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. He struck out 49 times compared to just 13 walks and ended the season with a slash line of .273/.312/.481. His batting average and on-base percentage were the best they’ve been during his tenure as a Blue Jay, topped only by his 2015 totals in St. Louis. Grichuk also posted a .793 OPS and finished the abbreviated campaign with a 0.1 bWAR.
In the field, Grichuk made just one error but was eight defensive runs saved below league average. He remains better suited to a corner outfield spot but there are currently no obvious candidates on the big league roster that could step in and improve the team defense while also matching Grichuk’s productivity at the plate.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
In 2021, Grichuk will be entering the third year of the five-year $52 million contract he signed in 2019. He will count for $10.3 million against the Blue Jays payroll for each of the next three seasons and is the third highest-paid player on the team behind Tanner Roark (yikes) and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jays front office chooses to approach this off-season and the years to come. If Rowdy Tellez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr continue to split starts between first base and DH, Teoscar Hernandez appears destined to stay in the outfield. That makes it hard to move Grichuk defensively. Yet, the front office has also emphasized a focus on run prevention going forward and outfield defense hasn’t exactly been a strong suit for the Jays in recent years.
That could all add up to one of these bats being on the move, maybe even Grichuk. It remains to be seen how it all shakes out but wherever Grichuk plays next year, the team employing him should know exactly what to expect when he hits the field.