TORONTO— To say Bo Bichette’s MLB career is off to a good start would be an understatement of historical proportions.
With 18 hits in his first 10 games — 11 of them for extra bases — Bichette has dominated from the get-go.
"It's amazing what he's done,” manager Charlie Montoyo says. “Not even Babe Ruth's done it, or Roberto Clemente. Or Mike Trout."
Although Bichette has surprised himself with the show he’s put on thus far, the supremely confident rookie believes the results are ultimately a function of a good process on his part.
"I'd be lying to you if I said thought I'd be breaking records,” he says. “But I do expect to play well and think those records are just a byproduct of hard work and trying to be aggressive."
The word ‘aggressive’ is one that comes out of Bichette’s mouth a lot, and he lives it on the field. At the plate he swings at 55.9 percent of pitches, well above the league average of 46.6. On first pitches he’s especially outpacing his peers, taking cuts 47.9 percent of the time, compared to an MLB average of 28.2. As Montoyo puts it “he ain’t looking to walk.”
Bichette’s aggression also manifests itself in the field and on the bases, where he runs hard with soon-to-be iconic flow bouncing along behind him. So far, that hasn’t always led to great results for the Blue Jays as the 21-year-old has been caught stealing twice already and experienced some adventures at short. It’s all part of the package, though.
“My dad growing up just told me to swing hard, run hard, throw hard, when you take BP hit the ball as far as you can, whenever you throw the ball throw it as hard as you can,” he says. “It just goes on and on. For me it’s just kind of second nature. When I don’t feel good I remind myself to be aggressive.”
So presumably that means when Bichette is slumping he’s being passive. Presumably is the operative word because he’s hasn’t struggled at this level yet. According to the shortstop, that’s the case, but when you see it live that’s not what it looks like.
“To the naked eye it probably looks like I’m too aggressive,” he says. “When you’re passive you swing at bad pitches. You don’t attack balls in a certain way and maybe look out of control when you’re swinging at bad pitches and making bad plays. But really it’s just a passiveness. Not being ready to play.”
If Bichette is going to fulfill his immense promise, channeling his natural aggressiveness effectively will be crucial. He’ll need to take his walks from time to time, avoid running into too many outs, and be judicious with his throws. Trying too hard can get you in a lot of trouble on the baseball diamond.
Although Bichette has had a couple of rough moments in his first 10 games in the field and on the bases, that hasn’t been a problem for him — and the Blue Jays — so far.
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