Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette has developed a well-earned reputation early in his career for being a streaky hitter.
He swings for the fences, racks up a high number of strikeouts, but he also produces a great deal of hard contact, often resulting in extra-base hits and run-scoring plays.
Bichette has faced his fair share of criticism for how he plays and for struggling to duplicate the gaudy numbers he put up in 2021. But does he deserve all of that? Here’s how Bo compares to other top shortstops in the American League.
Blue Jays: Bo vs. the field
Bo Bichette is coming off a highly productive 2021 campaign that saw him lead the AL in hits, score 121 runs, drive in over 100, and hit 29 home runs while finishing 12th in AL MVP voting.
That’s the type of season that’s hard to replicate, especially when there’s more of a book on his tendencies and how to attack him. Still, Bichette finds himself near the top of many key offensive categories among AL shortstops.
He’s second in doubles with 32, just one behind leader Xander Bogaerts. Bo is also second in RBI, with 66, one behind Corey Seager’s 67. Bichette is third in hits (134), homers (17), fourth in runs (66), and fifth in batting average and OPS. He leads AL shortstops in games played, at-bats, and in strikeouts, where his total of 134 is the fifth-highest total of any American League player.
Blue Jays: Bo’s advanced and defensive numbers
Looking at the traditional stats only presents part of the picture. With advanced statistics, a few different sites say the same thing. Bichette may not be having the same season he did last year, but he’s still among the best shortstops in the league.
He’s got a wOBA of .317, wRC+ of 107, and a WAR of 2.4, according to Fangraphs, which ranks fourth, fourth, and fifth respectively. The numbers don’t shine quite so brightly when it comes to Bichette’s defence.
He has a defensive rating of 2.7 on Fangraphs, which ranks ninth among AL shortstops, but just behind reputed defensive whiz Isiah Kiner-Falefa and ahead of last year’s Gold Glove winner, Carlos Correa. However, when it comes to defensive runs saved, Bichette is -13, which is among the worst for qualified shortstops.
Bichette has worked hard to decrease his errors, but with 16, he may not have many less than last year’s total of 24.
Where the numbers do reflect more favourably on Bo are the hard-hit stats. He’s first in average exit velocity (91.5), and his 49.6 hard-hit percentage is also the best in the AL SS group. He has the most 95 MPH balls hit and the third-highest Brls/PA%.
One final area of intrigue is the stolen base statistic. Last season, Bichette was a problem on the base paths, with 25 steals in 26 attempts and a 96% success rate. This year his nine steals rank seventh, but his seven times caught stealing is the second highest and for a much less impressive 56% rate of succession.
Overall, Bichette looks to be putting the finishing touches on a solid, if unspectacular 2022 season. His batting average will likely be somewhere in the .260s rather than pushing .300 and has a real chance at 20 homers, and 40 doubles and to finish in the top 10 in total hits.