Entering the 2022 season, the Toronto Blue Jays were projected to be one of the top teams in the American League after adding Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, Yimi Garcia, and Matt Chapman during the offseason. Even with the departures of Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, the Jays still boasted one of the most powerful lineups in the league highlighted by George Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez.
Fast forward ten games into the season and the Blue Jays currently lead the AL East with a 6-4 record even with the starting pitching getting off to a slow start and both Hernandez and Danny Jansen on the IL (with Hyun Jin Ryu now joining the list as of yesterday).
Another player off to a slow start to the campaign is Bo Bichette, who is coming off a 2021 campaign that saw him lead the AL in hits (191) and finish with 29 home runs, 102 RBI, and a .828 OPS. The righty-batter currently holds a .222 batting average with a .555 OPS through 45 at-bats while striking out 11 times compared to zero walks. His aggressive approach at the plate has seen his strikeouts climb to being just over one per game while he currently has one RBI to his credit via a home run against Texas back on April 9th.
Blue Jays SS Bo Bichette is off to a slow start to the 2022 campaign and it might be time to consider moving him down in the lineup.
This slow start to the season is a bit surprising considering how well Bichette played last season but he is not the only player to come out of the gate slow, joining the likes of Alejandro Kirk (.505 OPS with zero home runs) and Cavan Biggio (hitless through 12 at-bats). His exit velocity is down slightly to begin the season (34th percentile at 87.6 MPH average) and he is chasing the ball out of the zone, which is resulting in him struggling to put the ball in play like a top bat in the lineup when looking at his .323 xwOBA.
Although it is early into the season, Bichette currently occupies the second spot in the lineup right after Springer and before Guerrero Jr., and it may be time to consider moving him down in the lineup if the slow start continues to creep later into the month.
Guerrero Jr. is one of the most feared hitters in the game due to his raw power and there have been some inquiries by the Jays fanbase as to why the club doesn’t bump him up in the order, as the club did experiment with the idea in Spring Training earlier this year. In terms of pure OBP numbers, the club could look to move Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.350), Santiago Espinal (.343), or Matt Chapman (.333) if the club wants to keep Guerrero Jr. third in the lineup given his power. This would most likely move Bichette to either fourth or fifth depending on when Hernandez returns from his IL stint (which shouldn’t be too far away).
This move is purely based on the fact that there are some players on the Jays who are just swinging a hotter bat right now, and a move of this nature would most likely not be permanent and would just be dependent on once Bichette starts to gain some traction in the batter’s box.
One would expect that given Bichette’s pedigree and past results that this is just a bit of a slump to begin the year and that he’ll figure it out as the season moves on, but for now, it may not be a bad idea for manager Charlie Montoyo to tinker with the lineup a bit and have some different players take a chance after Springer with a tough road trip ahead.