One of the most successful rookies on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster made his debut this year with very little fanfare. This player didn’t have his very first batting practice live-streamed. There weren’t throngs of media in Toronto for his debut. And there certainly wasn’t a ticker on MLB Network counting down his first official game.
Unlike Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio’s arrival flew completely under the radar. The 24-year-old was promoted to the Blue Jays on May 24th alongside Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Outside of the dozens of Biggio family members who witnessed young Cavan’s MLB debut, his promotion to the Blue Jays didn’t generate nearly the kind of buzz that Vladdy’s did.
In retrospect, maybe it should have.
Both Biggio and Guerrero are in the infancy of their big league careers, but Biggio has been the better player thus far for the Blue Jays.
Prior to his call-up, Biggio received glowing reviews from members of the Jays organization. 35 games into his Major League career, Biggio’s been better than advertised.
He started the season batting near the bottom third of the lineup, but quickly earned the trust of his manager Charlie Montoyo. After 12 games, Montoyo pencilled Biggio into the coveted leadoff spot in the Blue Jays batting order.
Biggio’s combination of power and patience at the plate garnered him yet another esteemed spot on the lineup card: cleanup hitter. Over the last dozen games, he settled in as the Blue Jays’ number four hitter and looks like a seasoned veteran in the spot.
One of the reasons why Biggio has shot up through the ranks so quickly is his unparalleled plate discipline. His chase rate (the number of pitches he swings at outside the strike zone) is a mere 10.8 percent. That’s the lowest percentage in all of baseball.
Watching a Biggio at-bat is a master class in plate discipline. He very rarely bites on pitches outside the strike zone. When pitches do cross over the heart of the plate, Biggio often deposits them into the stands.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 29, 2019
Here’s a look at all the pitches he’s taken a swing at which have been outside of his wheelhouse. Just a smattering of high fastballs and sliders, changeups and sinkers down and away.
This is Joey Votto-level of strike-zone control. Biggio is a 24-year-old rookie and his chase rate is that of a 13-year veteran. These are the kinds of skills that take years to master and yet Biggio is already excelling at the plate during his second month in the majors.
Throughout his career, the former Vancouver Canadians farmhand has always shown the ability to draw a walk. In 2016 with the Canadians, Biggio drew more walks than strikeouts. He did the same earlier this year in triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons before earning his call-up.
Biggio has a career walk rate of close to 15 percent, which would put him within the top 10 in all of baseball this year (Mike Trout has a mind-boggling 19.6 percent walk rate).
Once again, the Blue Jays rookie used his polished approach at the plate on Thursday night’s game versus the Red Sox and capped off a three-walk night at the plate, increasing his on-base percentage to a team-leading .379.
Biggio’s remarkable plate discipline is only one impressive facet of his game. He’s played admirably in the field at second base, first base and in the outfield. Biggio has some wheels (five stolen bases in 35 games) and according to MLB’s sprint speed metric, he ranks in the 74th percentile among second basemen.
Guerrero received a world of hype surrounding his MLB back in April, but much like his Hall of Fame father Craig Biggio, Cavan stepped onto the Blue Jays roster and performed like a natural from day one and has quietly become one of the most consistent players on his team.
By season’s end, the Blue Jays should have their final top-rated homegrown prospect in the big leagues: Bo Bichette. Combined with Biggio and Guerrero, this combined trio paints an incredibly exciting picture for the Blue Jays in the years to come.