TORONTO — Regardless of what statistic you look at, it seems like Cavan Biggio has been trending down lately.
Biggio came out of the gate with a bang, but has been slumping badly since the beginning of July. While he continues to show Joey Votto-esque plate discipline, he hasn’t been able to capitalize on the strikes he’s forced pitchers to throw.
As a result, the same guy who brought a healthy .232/.362/.424 line into the All-Star break was looking at .203/.330/.356 entering Tuesday’s action. The simplest explanation for that nosedive has been an inability to hit the ball hard, which has correlated neatly with his drop off in production.
That’s why Biggio’s 2-for-3 night in a Blue Jays 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves and Canadian soft contact merchant Mike Soroka on Tuesday was more impressive — and encouraging — than the box score indicates.
Any multi-hit game is a good night at the plate, but Biggio absolutely scorched the ball in this one. His first-inning single came in at a solid 102.3 mph as he made Soroka pay for a fastball up and over the plate.
He almost got himself a double as the ball threatened to go over Ronald Acuna Jr.’s head on a weird bounce, but it couldn’t quite make it — an indication that Lady Luck wasn’t on his side for the night.
In his second trip to the dish, Biggio should’ve had a double by all accounts. The only thing standing in his way was the defensive wizardry of Acuna Jr., specifically the cannon attached to his right shoulder.
The rookie put the ball down the line at a plenty-respectable 96.4 mph only to be mercilessly cut down by the Braves superstar.
“The guy in right field is probably one of the best players in baseball,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He’s got an above-average arm and before the game we told our players that he has a good arm.”
Considering he’s got 82nd percentile Sprint Speed, this a reasonable risk for Biggio off the bat. If the throw was anything but perfect here, he was going to be fine.
“I’d rather have them [take risks] like that and then talk to them about it than the other way around not being aggressive,” Montoyo said. “Then we can talk to them and say ‘keep going hard, but next time don’t do it’ instead of telling somebody ‘come on, let’s go!’”
Unfortunately for the second baseman, and the Blue Jays, the throw was perfect. It was the first base stolen from him on the night. The second, and possibly third, came in his next at-bat.
In Biggio’s third crack at Soroka, he managed his most impressive hit of the night, pulling a 102.6 mph sizzler with an Expected Batting Average of .880. Somehow, it found its way right into the glove of Braves first baseman Freddy Freeman.
In his final at-bat of the night, he did his thing, walking against lefty fireballer Sean Newcomb to square away the strong performance.
None of these plate appearances made for extremely eye-catching highlights. An incredible 450-foot bomb, for instance, might make a more persuasive piece of evidence that Biggio is getting back on the right track.
Even so, squaring up one ball in a game has been a struggle for the 24-year-old lately. Getting his barrel on three has been virtually unheard of during his recent struggles.
If his stat line read 3-for-3 with a double, or even two, Tuesday would have been easily identifiable as a breakout game for Biggio. As it was, it didn’t look like a spectacular outing — on paper.
On the field, it was exactly what the doctor ordered for Biggio.
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