Bo Bichette has worked hard to establish himself as the shortstop for the Blue Jays, and he’s in a great situation to thrive during the season ahead.
After several months of hearing about whether the Jays would trade for Francisco Lindor, which would have pushed Bichette to second base, that never came to fruition and the 23-year-old has held on to his position. Bichette has talked about how important it is to him to continue at his long-time spot, and he continues to improve his production in the crucial infield role.
As the Blue Jays looked for ways to improve their infield over the offseason, they weren’t willing to move their budding star around for just anyone. That proved to be true when Marcus Semien signed on a one year deal with the understanding that he’d be moving to second base with his new team. Let’s keep in mind that Semien was the 3rd place finisher in the 2019 AL MVP award voting, which was the last full season played. It wasn’t just his hitting that made him a player worth 8.9 bWAR that year either, as he had a dWAR rating of 2.2 in 2019, and 2.5 in 2018.
In theory, by moving to a slightly easier position at second base Semien might even be a greater asset for the Blue Jays. His arm will play very well at second base, and he has plenty of range for the new defensive assignment. He’ll also apply some subtle pressure to Bichette, and push him to be the best defender he can be at shortstop.
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It’s pretty safe to say that Bichette’s status as the starting shortstop is well established, but that won’t come at the expense of winning. If for whatever reason he’s struggling to contribute with the glove, the Blue Jays have a more than capable option to replace him. I’m not at all suggesting that I expect this to turn into a shortstop controversy or anything, but I do think young Bo will feel some unspoken pressure to perform, and that’s not a bad thing.
While Bichette has taken the big leagues by storm as a hitter over his first 75 games, his defence is still a bit of a work in progress. He’s talked about the desire to improve that part of his game himself, and it looks like he’s worked hard over the winter to come into camp in outstanding shape. One of his most exciting traits is his self awareness and his desire to improve, and I have no doubt that we’ll see improvement from him over last season. He’s already proven to be a capable shortstop as a big leaguer, but I believe 2021 will be the year he starts to establish himself as an asset with his glove as well as his bat.
And just important as the pressure to succeed, Bichette has shown himself to be a willing learner, and he’s got a new wealth of knowledge to refer to. Semien has 775 games as a big league shortstop under his belt, and there’s no doubt that he’ll have a few tips to pass on to his new teammate. From all accounts it sounds like Semien is a model clubhouse leader and voice, and that’s only going to benefit Bichette’s development as a player in general, but likely on defence in particular.
It’s a pretty great situation for Bichette to thrive, and based on what we’ve seen from him in the big leagues so far, there’s no reason to doubt whether he’ll rise to the occasion.