Bo Bichette credits two living legends for his improved defense at shortstop

So who are the masterminds behind Bichette’s much-improved play in the field for the Jays?

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Elsa/GettyImages

Prior to the 2023 season, there didn’t seem to be anything Toronto Blue Jays superstar Bo Bichette couldn’t do, whether it was moving runners over on the bases, stealing a base to set up scoring opportunities, or providing that clutch hit to drive in important runs.

But there was one thing that constantly remained his Achilles’ heel that has held him back from being the best of the best. That was his unpredictable defense, as almost every time he fielded the ball, there was a high probability of it sailing away.

As a result, Bichette’s defensive stats didn’t look pretty, averaging 20+ errors per season and resulting in a fielding percentage below .960. In 2022, he even registered a -16 DRS, making many wonder if he could positively offset the amount of runs he had given up defensively with his bat over time. 

Miraculously, in 2023, the defense of Bichette took a huge step forward. Not only did his throws look more smooth and accurate, his positioning and anticipation of the ball in play appeared to have improved drastically from previous seasons.

Bichette went on to put up his best defensive numbers of his career, committing only 8 errors all season for an impressive .980 fielding percentage, along with a +5 DRS. It may not be classified as Gold Glove-calibre defense, but he appears to have stabilized the position considerably.

Well, it turns out that it didn’t just happen magically overnight for Bichette, as he credits his much-improved work at shortstop to two living legends of the game in Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former Jays superstar Troy Tulowitzki. According to Bichette, both of them have successfully helped him in coping with the physical demands of the position, in addition to the mental aspects.

Larkin was one of the rare all-time greats that played his entire MLB career with one team, suiting up for the Reds from 1986-2004. Known predominantly for his offensive impact at the plate, Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, 8-time Silver Slugger, and 1995 NL MVP.

Not only has he won it all with the Reds in 1990, he is now enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his outstanding achievements since being elected in 2012. But what may have gone unnoticed amongst all his accomplishments was the fact that Larkin actually flashed some good leather during his prime as he also added a trio Gold Gloves to his resume as well.

For Tulowitzki, nothing more needs to be said as the Jays’ faithful got to witness his defensive prowess up close and personal during his tenure with the club. "Tulo" was instrumental in leading the team to postseason success in 2015 and 2016. He played defense like the wind as he often would get to the ball and throw in a smooth, fluid motion. Overall, his defensive wizardry has been recognized with a pair of Gold Gloves he has under his belt. His career might not have been as long and as astounding as Larkin’s, but he still managed to earn 5 All-Star nominations along with 2 Silver Slugger awards over his 13-year career.

With Bichette receiving tutelage from two of the best in the game, it’s no wonder he has gotten significantly better in such a short time. At this rate, what once seemed impossible may no longer be out of the question that perhaps one day, He may actually bring home a Gold Glove of his own. More importantly, hopefully his further development into becoming a strong well-rounded superstar would help bring home an eventual championship for the Jays in the end.