2023 Toronto Blue Jays Report Card: Bo Bichette
2023 Stats: 135 G, 69 R, 30 doubles, 3 triples, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 5 SB, .306 AVG, .814 OPS
For Toronto Blue Jays star shortstop Bo Bichette, he had put together another strong season in 2023, leading the offensive charge for the ballclub. Without question he has been the most consistent hitter and run producer on the team over the past few seasons and doesn’t appear to be losing steam anytime soon. If he didn’t suffer his right knee injury back at the end of July, he could have led the American League in hits for a third consecutive MLB season.
No doubt that his injury had somewhat of an impact on his production down the stretch, as he probably came back to do his best to help the ballclub reach the playoffs despite not being 100%. Nevertheless, he still got the job done as the Jays ended up reaching the postseason for the second consecutive season.
Despite missing some time due to his ailment, Bichette still managed to finish second among all AL shortstops in batting average, third in RBI and OPS, fourth in doubles and home runs, and fifth in runs scored. In addition, his advanced stats from Baseball Savant revealed a strong showing across the board with his xwOBA ranked in the 85th percentile, an xSLG in the 88th percentile, along with an xBA in the 98th percentile. More importantly, he has cut down a bit on both his whiff and strikeout rates compared to his previous season, ranking close to the 70th percentile in the league for each.
But as much as Bichette’s stellar offensive stats has been, what has made him more of a complete player this season was his drastic improvement on defence. As dynamic Bichette has been for the Jays, his one main flaw that had plagued him for years was his defensive play. Year after year, many of the Jays’ faithful were getting frustrated by his wild throws to first base that ultimately led to many unearned runs for the opponents.
However, in 2023, Bichette surprisingly cleaned up his miscues by developing a more fluid, slower, controlled throw to first base, sacrificing power for finesse in the process. In doing so, he committed only eight errors all season, compared to 24 and 23 in the previous two seasons. On top of that, he went from a -16 DRS in 2022 to a positive 4 DRS this year. More importantly, some of his defensive plays have even made the highlight reels once again, but finally this time for the right reasons.
Moreover, Bichette has begun to take on more of a leadership role on the ballclub in helping them to success. Not only was he leading by example with his play, he was also on top of things with regards to interactions with his teammates and the ballclub as a whole, as he was often unafraid to speak his mind. He was seen frequently talking to his teammates and has become quite the influencer in the clubhouse. As a result, the “guys gravitate toward him because of that” John Schneider said in an interview with the Toronto Star (subscription required).
You may not remember, but it was Bichette that pulled Vladimir Guerrero Jr. aside during his huge slump in May for a pep talk to get his long-time buddy going again. It was also Bichette who stood up and stated that reflection was needed from the top and down following the Jays early exit from the postseason. For someone who has the passion for winning, passion for the sport, and passion for the team he beloved the most, he was doing what’s best to help his team for now and the future.
Overall, it is Bichette’s growth not only in his game, but both as a baseball player and the person that he is off the field is what makes him that much more special for the Blue Jays.