Predicting the Blue Jays' All-Stars in 2023
Bo Bichette made his first All-Star appearance in 2021. Like Guerrero, his numbers came down the next season to the point that he was not selected for the 2022 team. Then the calendar switched to September.
Bichette’s final month of last season salvaged his year and reminded everyone that he’s capable of being a perennial All-Star for the rest of his career. He entered the month batting just .260 with a .725 OPS on the season; he ended it by increasing his average by 30 points and OPS by nearly 80 points.
In an eight-game stretch in September, Bichette hit three home runs in one night in Baltimore while batting .517 with six homers and 17 RBI. He’s the only shortstop in MLB history to do that. His strong finish to the year allowed Bichette to lead the American League in hits for the second consecutive season.
Bichette led all AL shortstops with 93 RBI. Only Corey Seager had more home runs than Bichette’s 24. Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts were the only shortstops with a higher OPS. And Bogaerts, one of Bichette’s main challengers for an All-Star nod, is now out of the AL after signing with the Padres in the offseason.
If Bichette’s finish to the 2022 season is a catalyst for what is to come, he should be in Seattle in July.
Kevin Gausman didn’t make the All-Star team in his first year in a Blue Jays uniform. His 3.35 ERA ranked only 11th among qualified AL starting pitchers. But there is one factor that should help Gausman get to Seattle this time: sheer luck.
Gausman was the unluckiest starting pitcher last season. His .363 opposing batting average on balls put in play was the worst in the league; compare that to the .244 mark of Alek Manoah, .240 of Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, or .260 of Dylan Cease. Gausman was a victim of balls finding holes and bloopers falling in between defenders.
His stats suggest that, if his numbers revert to the mean, Gausman is in for an All-Star season in 2023. Only Carlos Rodon had a better FIP rate last season, a statistic that measures only things a pitcher has complete control over. He was fifth in the AL among starters in strikeouts per nine innings.
Gausman pitched like the ace the Blue Jays paid him to be, even if his numbers didn’t quite reflect it. He’s made only one All-Star appearance in his 10-year career, but another season like his debut with the Blue Jays should be enough to get him to Seattle.