Bo Bichette - Doubles Monster
Bo Bichette was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2016 in the second round after batting .569 in his senior year in High School. His draft profile noted his steady glove and strong arm as positives coming into the league, something that we'll get into right off. He won numerous awards in the minors like MVP (2017), plenty of All Stars, and two Futures selections (2017, 2018). Going into the 2019 year, Bichette was ranked the second best Blue Jays prospect (behind Vlad Jr), and ninth overall. His 2019 campaign saw great success with a slash line of .311/.358/.571 with eleven homers and 21 RBI's. In 2020, he did end up with a sprained right knee, but still managed a .301/.328/.512 with five homers and eighteen RBI's.
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Outs Above Average (OAA) 20th percentile
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS): -1
Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR): 1.1
Bichette is a below average shortstop defensively. Out of 39 qualified shortstops last year, Bichette ranked 28th in success rate (87%) and 24th in OAA. We can all agree that other than catcher and center fielder, typically your best defender is the shortstop. The Blue Jays have gone on the record on working with Bo to improve his defense as far back as last year. He has made an improvement over 2019, where he was 29th in OAA and raised his success rate by 1% (86% last year). I could see an eventual shift to second base if Toronto makes a move for another shortstop.
xBA 89th percentile
xwOBA 70th percentile
K% 57th percentile
BB%: 4th percentile
Whiff: 74th percentile
For a position player, Bichette excels as a hitter. For a shortstop, he's top tier. Bichette is making contact on practically every swing he takes. Let's look at our zone breakdown:
The left zone shows swing percentage by zone and as I've mentioned, he makes contact. Typically, with a batter profile like this, you'd expect a huge spike in strikeout percentage (for example, Javier Baez). This is not the case with Bichette. When he makes contact, the ball almost always in play. Using his above average sprint speed, he legs out singles and stretches some into doubles, even though he crushes the ball.
The middle graph, expected BA on contacted pitches, reinforces my prior thoughts. Here's what's eye opening with these two graphs; Bichette's zone contact percentage was 90.8% in 2020, which was 8% above the average. Granted, I don't believe that this is sustainable, but it's rare to get this kind of production out of the shortstop position.
Even though Bo makes great contact, one area that suffers from this is his walk percentage. He walked five times in 128 plate appearances. Funny enough, he only walked on outside pitches, most likely because he couldn't reach the bat out to hit it. One of those walks, a high splitter from Tanaka, was certainly in the strike zone, so we'll call it four walks on the season.
Hitting for Power
Exit Velo (EV) 57th percentile
Hard Hit: 57th percentile
xSLG: 89th percentile
Barrel: 82nd percentile
Out of 257 qualified players, he ranked 21st in the league and third out of all shortstops in Barrels per Plate Appearances. As you may know by now, Barrels are a fancy term for squaring up a ball. Bichette won't ever be a leader in homers, but he has enough pop for 15-20 of them a year. Bo excels in hitting the ball into the outfield hard and stretching singles into doubles. Check out his line drive percentage; MLB average - 25.7% - Bichette - 33.3%. This trait is perfect for a leadoff hitter.
Sprint Speed 70th percentile
Speed is a pivotal for Bichette's success as a hitter. His speed will predicate whether he is a singles slapper or a doubles machine. The speed also factors into scoring runs, which he led the minors in before. Going second to home is one of those stats that just don't show up on the ledger. Although he did hit the IL this year with a sprained right knee, his speed did jump down from the 89th percentile to 70th. Look for this to bump back up next year.
Bichette won't be at short for much longer, unless there's a path to exceed defensively. His offensive numbers make him a top of the order bat. Thanks to having Vlad Jr on his team, and his high contact rate, pitchers won't be able to rest with him in the box. I see Bo being near the tops in doubles and runs scored in the future. Once he settles in at second or even third, Bichette will solidify himself as an above average infielder.