One of the bright spots around the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays was the incredible emergence of Davis Schneider. He was initially drafted by the Jays in the 28th round - which does not exist anymore - and had a long and winding road to cracking the big leagues.
Schneider and his mustache instantly became a fan favorite. He hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and started his career off by going 9-for-13 with a pair of home runs. In fact, he became the first player in MLB history to record three hits and two home runs in his first three big league contests.
Sure, Schneider's bat cooled off quite a bit as his season went on, but that was to be expected. He's always been an advanced hitter but there was no way he was ever going to maintain the red-hot pace he broke out of the gates with. Now, he's been widely expected to fight for playing time in the infield with the likes of Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Justin Turner and Ernie Clement.
However, a recent report from TSN's Scott Mitchell suggests that the majority of Schneider's playing time in 2024 won't come in the infield at all. Instead, Mitchell writes that the 25-year-old will platoon with Daulton Varsho in left field to open the season.
Schneider has some experience in the corner outfield, so it's not a complete surprise to hear this. Second base is his position by trade and the spot he plays the best defense, so it just felt like an inevitability that he'd be the primary second baseman to open the season. Instead, he'll form the right-handed side of a platoon in the outfield.
Varsho, a left-handed swinger, performed well against southpaws last year, but many of his base hits against them were bunt singles. There's nothing wrong with getting aboard however you can, but this may have skewed his batting average and on-base percentage a bit. All told, he hit .293 with seven doubles, a triple and no home runs against same-handed pitchers last season.
For Schneider's part, he hit .326 with a 1.300 OPS against left-handers last year. Since he didn't debut until the middle of the year, he's got a much smaller sample size than Varsho, but the numbers are promising nonetheless.
Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier are both lefty swingers, but even Kiermaier hit .281 against same-handed pitchers last year. This means that with Schneider starting in left against southpaws, the Jays can comfortably turn to either Varsho or Kiermaier in center field without losing much in the way of offensive production.
Remember, this proposed plan is only against left-handed pitching. Schneider is still going to see a ton of time at second against right-handers, but he'll be forced to split time with Biggio, who had a strong final month of the season last year and has earned the right for some extended runway at the position.
Regardless of where he lines up, Schneider has done more than enough to earn more playing time in 2024. He instantly endeared himself to fans and is one of the better options the Jays have on-hand. Even if he regresses a bit, there's a lot more upside to starting Schneider than someone like IKF or Espinal on a daily basis.