Blue Jays: Kevin Kiermaier has been told center field is his job to lose

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages

The Blue Jays have made the signing of Kevin Kiermaier official, and with that the newest Blue Jay met with the media via Zoom this afternoon. Kiermaier was adamant about the fact that he’s excited to be a part of the Blue Jays and is looking forward to competing for an entire country.

The most interesting comment of note was the fact that Kiermaier’s understanding is center field is “his job to lose”. TSN’s Scott Mitchell, amongst others, all tweeted about this shortly after Kiermaier made the remarks.

To me, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Kiermaier has been an everyday player since 2015, when he took over for Desmond Jennings in the Rays’ outfield after replacing Wil Myers in right field the year prior. Kiermaier played 151 games that 2015 season, the most of his career. Since then he’s averaged 93 games played in a season, with scattered injuries showing up as a result of his tenacious style of play in the outfield.

Despite being a below average offensive player during his career, he’s produced impressive WAR numbers. He’s averaged 3.2 WAR a season, which is even more impressive when you account his average games played total. This number comes from his ridiculous skill on defense, posting substantial pluses in DRS, OAA, and RAA through every season of his career. With a healthy hip, which is the case as stated by Kiermaier, and his speed and jump times still among the league best, it’s fully expected that it’ll be a typical year for Kiermaier patrolling centrefield.

Why this decision doesn’t come as a surprise for me is simple, who’s better than him? As the outfield currently aligns, you’ll have Gurriel, Kiermaier, and Springer from left to right. If the Blue Jays' intentions are fulfilled and they manage to add that left-handed hitting, corner outfield bat they’ve long sought after, Kiermaier still factors into that mix. The new batter would have the opportunity to join that mix, and the four outfielders would cycle through the field and DH roles, still with Kiermaier getting the lionshare of playing time in center. Still expect to see Springer out there from time to time, as he is no doubt the option when Kiermaier gets his days off, but Kiermaier appears set to be the starting center fielder for the Blue Jays in 2023.

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