After a midseason call-up during his debut 2019 season and with COVID-19 limiting the 2020 campaign to just 60 games (as well as Bichette hitting the IL), this past year was Bo Bichette’s first foray into an entire 162 games at the big league level. The Blue Jays infielder had a strong campaign, suiting up in 159 games while owning a .828 OPS and leading the AL in hits with 191 through 640 at-bats.
On the defensive side of the ball, Bichette struggled on the left side of second base, committing 24 errors and tieing Javier Baez, Jazz Chisolm, and Luis Urias for the most errors across the Major Leagues. He earned a .957 fielding percentage and finished 14th among qualified shortstops with his 2 DRS while forming a tandem with veteran Marcus Semien at second base. He had some defensive bobbles and a few errant throws that did have some people questioning his ability to stay in the position long term.
Heading into the 2022 season, there was a chance that the Blue Jays might explore moving Bichette to the right side of the infield, especially with the departure of Semien via free agency and so many shortstops on the open market. The club even turned some heads when it was reported that they were in on Corey Seager until he signed a long-term contract with Texas. An acquisition like that would have probably seen Bichette move to second base to let a veteran like Seager take up his natural home position.
Instead, the Blue Jays acquired defensive stalwart Matt Chapman for third base, effectively keeping Bichette at shortstop and having the Blue Jays run with either Santiago Espinal or Cavan Biggio at second.
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette proved to everyone he could hit last season, with the 2022 campaign proving to be that he can handle shortstop long-term.
This move itself has already paid dividends for Bichette, as Chapman has incredible range and doesn’t require Bichette to go to his backhand as often, which likely increases his chances of committing an error if he has to throw on the run while turning against his body as he is a right-handed hitter.
However, even in those instances, Bichette has been fielding well to start the season, making the routine plays and even making some highlight-reel defensive stops that really impacted the outcome of the game, such as the backhand snag and cross diamond throw to get Alek Manoah out of a jam and the double play he turned with Espinal all in the same game. He did have one miss in the Rangers series, the hot comebacker that snuck past his glove and allowed the inning to continue, but it was credited as a hit given the velocity and would have been a tough play if he merely knocked it down.
Overall, Bo Bichette has already proven to everyone that he can hit the ball well and he is now starting to find a defensive rhythm at shortstop that is only boosting his status in the Major Leagues. Amongst MLB shortstops, he is tied with Jeremy Pena on the Houston Astros for 21 assists while also turning five double plays and owns a league-leading 5.43 range factor.
While the season is still early, Bichette appears to have taken all the criticism sent his way about potentially moving to second base and is making everyone eat their words for the time being.