A Daulton Varsho rebound will help fans forget about Gabriel Moreno in 2024

Daulton Varsho
Daulton Varsho / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Daulton Varsho has been having an impressive spring. Full disclosure, we've seen this mean very little many times before. But it's not so much his strong results that are impressive as it is the improvements in his process at the plate.

Coming off a disappointing season at the plate in which he slashed just .220/.285/.389 (85 wRC+), Varsho went back to the drawing board with his swing. It's easy to see why, Varsho finished second among qualified hitters with a 19% pop up rate. This was a career high for him and indicates a big part of his issues at the plate in 2022.

As covered in detail on FanGraphs, Varsho's swing was very disjointed in 2023. He starts out by setting up for a very steep (flyball oriented) swing and then flattens his bat path through his swing to become more groundball oriented. This unnatural operation resulted in a lot of mishits and held back the amount of damage he was able to do. Now in spring training 2024, he's showing off a set-up that helps him keep his swing flat and line-drive oriented throughout. The flyballs will come naturally for Varsho but it's those low quality mile-high mishits that he's trying to cut out with this approach.

"Well, I’m intrigued. Yeah, the results are better in the small sample, but that doesn’t really matter here. This is as sound of a process as I could have imagined for Varsho. If his goal is to have a low, line drive oriented swing, then this is how he should set up for it."

Esteban Rivera of FanGraphs

Fixing the swing was number one on my personal wish-list for 2024 Varsho. It might come as a surprise, but Varsho cut his swing and miss from 2022 to 2023 and also chased less pitches out of the zone. This didn't show up in the surface level stats because he was having much more difficulty consistently barreling the ball due to losing feel for his swing. Even though I'm not particularly worried about Varsho from a plate skills perspective, his approach has looked about as good as it could this spring.

He has walked significantly more than he has struck out this spring (17.3% to 11.5%) and has showed some of the best to ball skills in all of Spring Training.

He's been aggressive on good pitches to hit, rarely swinging and missing on them but also has been patient on pitches out of the zone. Swing decisions tend to be stats that stabilize faster than others but still it's a smaller spring training sample. Regardless, it's undeniably better to look locked in than not this time of year.

Varsho doesn't need to mash to be a valuable player for the Blue Jays. After all, he was worth 2.2 fWAR and 3.9 bWAR in 2023 despite posting a very underwhelming season. With elite defense in the outfield and excellent baserunning, Varsho being the average hitter that he was with the Diamondbacks would make him an above average regular in the lineup. It's early yet but there's signs that he's turning the corner offensively and I implore Jays fans to give him a fair shot this year. He's here for a few more years and a player can't control who he was traded for. It's important to support our players and Varsho could be a big part of what the Jays hope to accomplish in 2024.