MLB media believes patience is key for Blue Jays' Daulton Varsho, and you should too
By Eric Treuden
Expectations have been sky-high for Daulton Varsho since the moment he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. As soon as the deal was announced, fans immediately deemed him as an "MVP contender or bust" for this club, which has never been a fair assessment of who he is and what he can do on a baseball diamond.
Varsho is who he is. He swings it from the left side and has 20-30 home run potential, 20-30 stolen base potential, Gold Glove-caliber skills in both left and center field, and - I'm just going to say it - a bat that will probably only produce around .260 or so batting average.
To kick off the 2023 regular season, the numbers have not been there for him, which has led a large portion of the Blue Jays' fanbase to call for his head, which isn't fair. While we're all prone to overreactions, the deal has not been "lost" by the Jays and Varsho is not going to continue to be one of the worst offensive producers in the game.
MLB media preaches patience with Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho.
Pitcher List, one of the most underrated and highly valuable statistic-based blogs in the industry, says that patience is the key for Varsho in his first year as a Blue Jay. PL points to his elevated walk rate and how he is still consistently putting himself into position to get on base and score runs. Looking at this April versus last April, he scored four more runs, drew four more walks and stole three more bases. These numbers are not dramatic increases, but it's something.
It's also worth noting that last May, Varsho was red-hot in 25 games for the Diamondbacks. In that month alone, he scored 18 runs, hit four home runs, drove in 12 and had a batting average of .301 with an OPS of .904 which is well above-average. The Blue Jays have kept him in a spot in the lineup where he can both drive in runs and score runs himself. It's understandable that many fans are scratching their heads wondering why John Schneider continues to keep Varsho in the 3-4-5 spot in the lineup, but it appears that Schneider is counting on his player returning to form in May, just like he did last year.
Teoscar Hernández, a big bopper the Jays traded to Seattle for relief pitcher Erik Swanson, was even worse last year in the first month or so of the season. In May alone, he had a .151 average with 21 strikeouts in just 19 games. His OPS was .428 (compared to Varsho's .572) and he was able to rebound as well. To be clear, Hernández and Varsho are two very different players, but the point is that the former rebounded nicely last season and the latter is a leading candidate to do the very same this season.
The whole "dropped ball" incident in Yusei Kikuchi's start against the Angels is another aspect of Varsho's game that has gotten a ton of negative press. While this single play was singlehandedly to blame for the Jays' loss that day, Varsho has remained an above-average defender, which is a huge part of the reason he was brought aboard in the first place. Lining up in both left and center, he is still in the 71st percentile in Outs Above Average after finishing in the 99th last season. Don't let his inability to stare directly into the sun fool you, he is one of the game's best defenders and he is certainly going to show this off as the season rolls on.
Whether it's what he does at the plate, on the bases, or in the field, Daulton Varsho is an extremely valuable asset to this Blue Jays squad. If last year's numbers are any indicator, he could be in for a solid month of May which would go a long way to winning back the faith of Jays fans.