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We continue to look at the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays by looking at one of the key cogs in the Blue Jays’ rebuild: Cavan Biggio.
Like Bo Bichette, Biggio is the son of a former big leaguer, Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio. While the the younger Biggio is not the same type of player that his father was, the ability to command the strike zone is definitely found found in both.
Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Blue Jays out of the University of Notre Dame, Cavan didn’t particularly impress in his debut professional season, spent mostly with the Vancouver Canadians. He hit .282/.382/.366, showing his tremendous eye at the plate (walking 29 times with just 28 strikeouts) but hitting for very little power. In 2017, Biggio jumped to Advanced-A Dunedin, getting into 127 games and hitting .233/.342/.363, again, failing to hit for very much power while also seeing a jump in his strikeouts (up to 25.2%) while his walk rate remained a very high 13.3%.
At the Double-A level in 2018, however, Biggio started to make a lot more noise, hitting .252/.388/.499 with a stellar ISO of 24.7, an also-stellar walk rate of 17.8% while his strikeout rate climbed to 26.3%. He hit a whopping 26 home runs, likely taking some advantage of the short porch in right field (as a left-handed hitter) at Manchester’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
In 2019, Biggio started the season in Buffalo, continuing to hit well, posting a .312/.448/.514 slash line with a 19.5% walk rate and 16.1% strikeout rate in 174 plate appearances before he was called up to Toronto, making an impression on the Jays’ brass and fans with a solid .234/.364/.429 slash line, walking in 16.5% of his plate appearances and striking out in 28.6% (ok, that last percentage is not great), but he hit 16 home runs and played a much-better-than-expected second base in 100 games for the 67-win Jays.
In spring training of 2020, Biggio got into 13 games and hit .179/.333/.214, not a great start to his campaign, but things turned around when the regular season got started. He succeeded in cutting down his strikeout rate from 28.6% in his rookie season to 23.0% in 2020, while keeping a high walk rate (15.5%). He hit .250/.375/.432, maintaining about the same rates for power and getting on base and hit eight home runs
While Biggio played mostly at second base in 2020, the lackluster hitting of Travis Shaw meant that he would become a solution at third base, especially with Joe Panik (and later, Jonathan Villar) on the club. In the late-going of the season, the Jays really took advantage of Biggio’s versatility, playing him in 18 games in the outfield as Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel and others dealt with injuries.
Interestingly, in a small sample size, he hit lefties better than righties with a 150-point better OPS against the southpaws (and as a left-handed hitter, that’s fairly unusual). After accruing 2.4 fWAR in 2019 in 100 games, he picked up another 1.5 fWAR in 59 games in 2020, improving his wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus) by 13% up to 127 in 2020.
Biggio’s defensive versatility and his ability to get on base make him a very valuable member of the Blue Jays going forward and I think you’ll see him continue to get his playing time wherever he may be needed in the lineup after a solid sophomore season in a wacky 2020.
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