Blue Jays: Where does Bo Bichette currently rank among MLB shortstops?
The Blue Jays are fortunate to have several exciting young stars, not the least of which is 23 year old All-Star, Bo Bichette.
The Blue Jays shortstop of the present and future was extremely productive in 2021, even if he didn’t always have the spotlight shining on his performance. He finished the season with a slash line of .298/.343/.484 with 29 home runs, 30 doubles, 102 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. When you consider that it was Bichette’s first full 162 game season, the fact that he finished with 5.9 bWAR is pretty remarkable, and chances are this is only the beginning for one of the core pieces of the roster.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Blue Jays have a star on their hands in Bichette, but lately I’ve been wondering just how well he ranks against his peers that play the same position. That’s partially because of the premium crop of shortstops that were available this offseason including Carlos Correa (still a free agent), Corey Seager (signed with Texas), Marcus Semien (signed with Texas), Javier Baez (signed with Detroit), Trevor Story (free agent), and more. We saw that the Blue Jays were committed to Bichette as their shortstop when they signed Semien last winter and asked him to move to second base, and I’ve wondered how the same would have played out if they had inked Corey Seager before he agreed to a 10-year contract with the Rangers.
Not that there being a bunch of talented free agents has much to do with Bichette’s ranking among MLB shortstops, however, I mention all of this because it got me wondering how many players the Jays would actually consider moving young Bo off of his preferred position to acquire. They wouldn’t do it for Semien, but I’m sure there are a handful that could force that kind of move, such as if the Jays were to sign someone like Correa, for example. For what it’s worth, I genuinely believe that the whole discussion is futile and that Bichette will be the shortstop in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
The other reason I’ve been thinking about positional rankings is because of an account on Twitter that goes by @MLBnerds. Lately they’ve been doing a series of their own rankings for every position, and they worked their way up to the shortstops with their top 10 post on Saturday. For what it’s worth, they had Bichette ranked 6th “going into 2022”.
Before I tell you how I see it, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at how Bichette ranked according to the WAR stat on both Baseball Reference, and also with Fangraphs. For the latter, Bichette came in 6th among MLB shortstops this past season with 4.9 fWAR, ranking behind Trea Turner (6.9), Fernando Tatis Jr. (6.1), Carlos Correa (5.8), Brandon Crawford (5.5), Xander Bogaerts (5.2), and if you wanted to include Marcus Semien (6.6) then you could drop him another spot further. I’m also aware that Turner moved to second base after being traded to the Dodgers, but he’s a shortstop and that’s where he’ll play next season.
If we’re looking at Baseball Reference then Bichette’s mark of 5.9 bWAR places him 5th behind Correa (7.2), Tatis Jr. (6.6), Turner (6.5), and Crawford (6.1), so either way you look at it he’s truly in elite company. That said, shortstop has also become one of the deepest positions in the game, and among these two leaderboards I haven’t mentioned the likes of Seager (limited to 95 games in 2021), or Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco, who played just 70 games last season and earned 3.5 bWAR as a 20 year old. That’s not all of baseball’s elite shortstops either, and these rankings could shift a fair bit year to year.
Having said all of that, I’m ready to tell you how I see the top 10 MLB shortstops, and I more than welcome the debate in the comments section. For what it’s worth, these rankings are based on their value for the 2022 season in my eyes, so the fact that Bichette is still under contract for four more years in total is an added bonus that doesn’t factor into things here.
1- Tatis Jr. (SD)
2- Turner (LAD)
3- Correa (free agent)
4- Franco (TB)
5- Bichette (TOR)
6- Lindor (NYM)
7- Seager (TEX)
8- Story (free agent)
9- Bogaerts (BOS)
10- Crawford (SF)
To get this out of the way, I’ll admit that I may be looking at Bichette with rose-coloured glasses here as a Blue Jays fan, but hear me out on why I ranked him above both Seager and Lindor.
For the latter, the 28 year old had a horrific first go-around with the Mets after signing a 10-year mega deal before last season began. He was better in the second half, but he still only finished with a slash line of .230/.322/.412 with 20 home runs, 63 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. I would 100% bet on him to have a bounce back season and return closer to his normal standards, but for what it’s worth, Lindor has only ever had one season better than Bichette’s 5.9 bWAR mark in 2021, and that was in 2018. He’s absolutely still an elite player, but I’m betting on Bo to have the better numbers when the 2022 campaign is behind us.
As for Seager, it comes down to his shaky injury history, which is why I’m surprised that the Rangers were willing to commit to a 10-year, 325 million dollar contract to acquire him. On top of that, Seager has never posted a 5.9 bWAR season (his career high was 5.3 in 2017), and he’s only played in more than 100 games in a season three times out of his six plus years in the big leagues. If he’s healthy for an entire season then Seager could factor into the MVP race, but I don’t know that I’d be willing to bet on that. What I am willing to bet on is that Bichette will provide more value to the Blue Jays in 2022 than Seager will to the Rangers. (feel free to save this and make fun of me in a year if I’m way off).
Speaking of Bichette, it’s not just about the holes that I see in Seager or Lindor’s value when it comes to this ranking. As I watched Bichette grow and improve as a player through the 2021 campaign, I grew more and more excited about what the future holds for the 23 year old. He’s already producing at a level that puts him among the best in the game, and it seems very obvious to me that he has plenty of room to grow as he gains experience at the highest level. He showed that throughout the course of last season as he improved on both sides of the ball, and I fully expect he’ll take another step forward in 2022.
What do you think? Yes, I recognize that it’s a bit of a pointless argument, but with the league on pause during the lockout, baseball fans need something to talk about. Where do you think Bichette ranks among MLB shortstops?