In each of the last two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have had a few of their players breakout and not only show they are All-Stars, but Superstars. Could 2022 follow suit as the previous seasons have and see another player ready to jump to the next level?
In 2020, Teoscar Hernandez was coming into the season looking as though he was a place holder for a future player to take his spot in the line-up. From 2016-2019, the Dominican outfielder had posted a slash line of .237/.304/.476 over 327 games while striking out 380 times and his adventures in the outfield left many closing their eyes if the ball was hit in his direction.
Hernandez has been anything but cringeworthy since the start of the COVID shortened 2020 season. Over his last 193 games, Hernandez had swatted 48 home runs and 150 RBI while posting a slash line of .295/.345/.538. This has led to consecutive Silver Slugger Awards, an All-Star selection, and votes for the AL-MVP in both seasons. Defensively he is no longer a late-inning replacement as he has found right field a lot more comfortable than the left corner.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette both had a ton of hype climbing through the ranks of the Blue Jays minor league system, but the expectations that were placed on Guerrero Jr. so early were unreasonable. At the age of 20 and 21, while several top baseball prospects are still playing college baseball, Guerrero Jr was playing major league games and posted a slash line of .269/.336/.442 with 24 home runs and 102 RBI, but many people were calling that he was a bust. Some people were saying Guerrero Jr’s defensive play at first base in 2020 was a mockery of the position, however after 2021, many are wondering if a Gold Glove Award is in the future.
Things changed from the start of the 2021 season, his offence was very publicized by every Blue Jays website due to him being in contention for the AL-MVP that would ultimately find him finishing in second place in voting. This was due to his breakout season at the plate that saw him lead the league in runs (123), home runs (48) and OPS (1.002). This all led to a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance, and a 2nd place finish in the AL MVP voting.
For Bichette, his 2021 breakout season seemed to take a back seat due to not only Guerrero Jr’s production, but also what Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray each did individually. Bichette finished the season leading the league in hits (191), while posting a slash line of .298/.343/.484 and finished with a 20-20 season (29 home runs and 25 stolen bases), showing that a 30-30 season isn’t out of the question. The Florida-born shortstop improved defensively throughout the season as he continues to show he will put in the work to be the best player possible.
The question at the beginning of the article is whether or not another player is set to have a breakout season in 2022. My belief is that there is, and that is Cavan Biggio. Biggio had many things go wrong for him this year, specifically dealing with multiple injuries throughout the season, but also learning a new position when he was in the lineup.
Biggio had earned the reputation as a versatile player, as he has started at least 30 games at three different positions over his first 220 games, as well as starts at three other positions. In 2021, the Blue Jays tried to move Biggio to third base full-time after the signing of Semien. Like Guerrero Jr. at first base in 2020, Biggio struggled at the hot corner. In 138 opportunities he made nine errors for a fielding percentage of .935 and had other mishaps hidden by the play of Guerrero Jr. at first base.
At the plate he had his lowest numbers over his first three seasons as he posted a slash line of just .224/.322/.356 while hitting just 18 extra-base hits over 79 games. Injuries would ultimately be the biggest derailment on his progression in 2021, as he missed nearly three weeks in May and June, and then two months at the end of the season with continuous neck issues.
Biggio showed his power in the minor leagues and in 2018 earned Eastern League MVP at Double-A when he finished with 26 home runs and 99 RBI. In 2019, Biggio finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting when he collected 16 home runs and 48 RBI during his 100 games, which also included becoming the third Blue Jay to record a cycle in one game.
Biggio has slipped to the back of many fan’s minds because of other high profile 2021 seasons from other teammates, but don’t sleep on the soon to be 27-year old as 2022 could be a huge year for him. For now it looks as though Biggio will come in as the everyday second basemen, which is the position he is most comfortable at. If healthy, we could potentially see a player that can hit 25 home runs and a total of 60 extra-base hits.
What is your take on Biggio, do you think he is set to have a breakout season?