2023 Blue Jays Report Card: Kevin Kiermaier
Offensive Stats: 129 GP, 58 R, 21 doubles, 6 triples, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 14 SB, .265 AVG, .741 OPS
Defensive Stats: 127 GP (in the field), 981.1 innings, 3 errors, .989 fielding percentage, 5 outfield assists, 18 DRS
It may have been only one season, but Kevin Kiermaier went from public enemy No. 1 to fan favorite with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2023. Signed to shore up the outfield defense, Kiermaier became the perfect addition to complement the Jays’ lineup. Not only did he provide Gold Glove-calibre defense in the outfield, he also added some surprising offensive output at the bottom of the Jays’ order.
Although not known to be a strong offensive producer, Kiermaier ranked seventh on the team in runs scored, eighth in doubles, first in triples, fourth in stolen bases, third in strikeouts (minimum 300 PA), third in batting average, sixth in OPS (minimum 300 PA), and second in sacrifice flies. This truly speaks volumes of the significant impact he had on the ballclub in helping them to success.
With his premium defense obviously being his calling card, Kiermaier ranked in the 98th percentile for his Range (Outs Above Average) and in the 95th percentile for his Arm Strength according to Baseball Savant. His 18 DRS also ranked him second on the team only behind Daulton Varsho. As a result of his continued stellar performance in 2023, Kiermaier has already been awarded the 2023 Fielding Bible Award for being the best defensive center fielder in MLB this season. He is also currently a finalist for the AL Gold Glove award along with four of his other teammates in their respective fielding positions.
Despite suffering some minor ailments over the course of the season, Kiermaier always gave it his all day in and day out. He would always battle at the plate, run aggressively on the basepaths, and go all out for balls in center field. More impressively, he would always seem to make the most difficult plays in nature look routine.
He was also one of the few players that showed up during the Jays’ latest disappointing postseason run. He singled home Bo Bichette in Game 1 to cash in the Jays only run from the entire AL Wild Card series against the Twins. In addition, he hit .400 with a walk and two strikeouts in the two games. Basically, he kept the Jays from being completely humiliated by the Twins, who would have shut them out in both games if it wasn’t for Kiermaier.
The 11-year veteran clearly gives it all he's got on the field, but he displays his genuine heart off the field as well. Kiermaier was often spotted interacting with fans pre and post-game, along with having enthusiastic, inspiring interviews where he often showed his passion and love for the game and his fans.
There was even a time when Kiermaier helped attend to a fainting fan by bringing them water, and ended up staying with the fan until they recovered. It is genuine deeds like that which makes us fully respect and admire the outstanding human being that he is.
With free agency quickly approaching, Jays fans undoubtedly hope that Kiermaier will re-sign with the team. Even if he doesn’t end up coming back, we are grateful for the year he had with the Blue Jays and his tenure will be forever remembered.
In terms of assigning a letter grade to Kiermaier’s overall performance on the season, he was everything one could have hoped for. Let’s just say he came to play and did everything he possibly could to turn the Jays into a true winner.
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