Blue Jays: Opening Day fielding provides optimism moving forward

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 01: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees is out at second base by Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 01, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 01: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees is out at second base by Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 01, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2021 season, the Toronto Blue Jays added a few players to the roster that was sure to produce one of the most potent batting orders in the American League. With the recent additions of Marcus Semien and George Springer, not only is the batting order getting a boost, but the defensive part of the Blue Jays game is also seeing an improvement as well.

Not only did the Blue Jays add a few players this off-season, but the young core was also being moving around when it came to who was going to which specific position (at least to begin the season).

Cavan Biggio is slated to take most of the reps at third base this year, a position he hasn’t necessarily spent a significant amount of time at in his career (10 games last year before Thursday’s game and 47 games in the minors). While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wanted to reclaim the hot corner this season, the trimmed down slugger is finding himself at first base, a position he gained experience in last year during the shortened 2020 campaign and will most likely stick to for the foreseeable future. Bo Bichette will take his normal position at shortstop and Danny Jansen will be behind the plate for most of the early goings this season. For the outfield, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. finds himself in left field with silver slugger Teoscar Hernandez in right. With Springer beginning the season on the injured list, Randal Grichuk/Jonathan Davis will most likely share responsibilities in centre field until he returns.

So how did the Blue Jays fair in the first game of the new year?

In short, pretty darn well to be completely honest.

On the left side of the diamond, Biggio saved the game from turning into a loss when he was able to get Mike Tauchman out at home in the 9th inning. The ball was hit directly at him, which one could argue as a routine play, but the pressure of the moment and the accurate throw to home is what should be celebrated, as the throw was placed well and allowed Jansen to tag the Yankee pinch-runner and keep the game alive.

Biggio also started the 7th inning double play to get the Blue Jays out of a bases loaded situation without surrendering a run. Even though he didn’t get the out in the fifth inning (even after review), Biggio fielded the ground ball well and was able to release across his body and almost get the out at first. A tough play that was certainly made close because of Biggio’s athleticism and throw across the diamond.

At shortstop, Bichette had a pretty routine day and wasn’t really put into too troubling of a situation. He had a few ground balls and dealt with a few pop-outs, one that was a trickier bloop shot into short centre field, but he was able to make the plays and didn’t seem uncomfortable nor did he make any errors on the day. He even made a nice play in the 7th inning where he dove and almost got Gary Sanchez out at first. It was a tough play and a long throw, so the fact the Bichette made it as close as it was at first is great even though he didn’t get the out.

On the right side of the diamond, Guerrero Jr. played very well at first base. He looked right at home with his stretches to field throws from across the diamond and looked comfortable fielding the D.J. LeMaheiu ground ball and the Gleyber Torres pop up throughout the game. The 22-year-old also made a few nice picks on a few short hops, stretching to the best of his ability and making the nice snags. It was nice to see Guerrero Jr. not struggle at the position and it appears that the weight loss will not help in the batter’s box, but also when he makes the stretches at first base.

Semien also had a great day at second base, making a spectacular diving stop and one knee throw to first base to end the fifth inning. He also had a part in the 7th inning double play where the Blue Jays were able to turn two with his throw to first to escape the inning. He made the routine plays when necessary and his throws were accurate to the bag, all of which kept the Blue Jays in the game.

Behind the plate, Jansen looked like his 2019, blocking some pretty impressive pitches and was able to keep the runners at bay without a wild pitch/passed ball. He wasn’t able to throw out Tauchman on his two-base stealing attempts, but both steals would have been tough outs for some of the best arms in the league (considering pitcher Jordan Romano didn’t even look him back when he was on second base). Jansen was also able to hold onto the ball and tag out Tauchman at home to keep the score 2-2 in the 9th inning. His bunting unfortunately needs some work though.

For the outfield, it was a pretty routine day. Hernandez had two putouts in right field while Gurriel Jr. had one putout, and there no fly balls hit out to Grichuk. Overall the outfield made the routine plays and there weren’t any balls that dropped in that made me think any of the outfielders should have had it.

Even Hyun-Jin Ryu got in on the action, fielding a weak ground ball on his right side and throwing it to first for the put-out.

Blue Jays: More than just a regular win on Opening Day. dark. Next

Overall, the Blue Jays finished the day with the win and didn’t commit any errors, with outstanding defensive plays by multiple infielders across the diamond. While one game is surely not going to dictate the Blue Jays defensive abilities for the season, the fact they started on such a strong note to begin the year is something fans should be encouraged to see as the season continues on.