In previous seasons, Toronto Blue Jays star shortstop Bo Bichette was often scrutinized for his defensive play in the field. In particular, his errant throws to first base was practically becoming almost a daily occurrence, while many of the Jays’ faithful would cringe and wince every time he uncorks a throw.
As a result, Bichette put in quite the effort to make the right adjustments on the main weakness in his game for the 2023 season. For those that got the chance to watch him play this season, it was certainly a more comforting sight to behold. Obviously, he didn’t all of a sudden become a Gold Glove candidate, but the drastic improvement in his defensive game made a huge difference in the ballclub’s success this season.
With Defensive Runs Saved becoming the more common metric nowadays to measure a ballplayer’s defensive abilities, Bichette had the largest improvement of any player in 2023 for that statistic when compared to the previous season. As pointed out by Sports Info Solutions, he went from an atrocious -16 DRS in 2022 all the way to a positive 5 DRS this season for a +21 difference, topping slick-fielding utilityman Nicky Lopez by one to become MLB’s most improved defender.
More significantly, Bichette made the biggest improvement in one aspect of his play in the field, which was making plays on balls hit to his left. He went from a 45% out rate in 2022 to a 59% out rate in 2023. More simply put, according to Sports Info Solutions calculations, Bichette made 15 less plays than an average shortstop would have in 2022, compared to 10 more plays than an average shortstop would have in 2023.
To top it off, his signature wild throws from past seasons were few and far between in 2023, resulting in a greater reduction in the total number of errors he committed. After recording 24 and 23 errors in his previous two seasons, Bichette brought it down to just 8 this season, which was tied for second in the American League among shortstops who played a minimum 100 games.
Overall, Bichette much-improved defence probably hasn’t gotten as much praise as one would expect. But with it becoming apparently better by the day, he has certainly earned it. Now with his defensive game rounding into form to match up with his offensive game, look for Bichette to be an unstoppable force heading into his prime in the upcoming years. At the same time, hopefully it will make the Jays a strong contending ballclub for many years to come.