There are plenty of characteristics of Cavan Biggio that invite skepticism.
He wasn’t a high draft pick or a big-time prospect. He’s not an imposing physical presence. He struggles with elite velocity at times, and there’s more swing-and-miss than power in his offensive profile. He posts sky-high walk rates, but doesn’t seem to have enough thump to deter pitchers from pounding the zone.
Those factors were easy to put to the side in 2019 and 2020 when he produced a 117 wRC+ over 695 plate appearance. They also allowed many Blue Jays fans to write off Biggio after a rough 2021 that saw him hit .224/.332/.356.
That punchless performance at the plate didn’t seem hard to explain — even it ran in stark contrast to his track record. Being miscast as a third baseman didn’t help the public perception of Biggio either.
So, when he collected a single hit in his first 28 trips to the plate in 2022, confirmation bias set in for everyone who thought his time as a starting-calibre player was over. That brutal start was followed by a trip to the COVID-IL and then being sent to Buffalo despite the fact the Blue Jays were carrying Vinny Capra on their major-league bench.
Expectations for Biggio were low when he returned to the Blue Jays on May 26, but since then he’s slashed an excellent .264/.411/.486 with a 158 wRC+.
While he’s not on the verge of becoming one of the Blue Jays’ top offensive forces, what he’s doing at the plate is remarkably similar to his 2019-2020 run — even if a .378 BABIP is inflating his overall line.
Since May 26
We’re talking about a 91 plate appearance sample, but it’s noteworthy that Biggio is doing all the same things that made him successful earlier in his career. He’s taking his walks, and generating extra-base hits by pulling the ball in the air consistently.
During his injury-marred 2021 and the beginning of this season, the results weren’t just bad (76 wRC+), the process just wasn’t as strong across the board.
Biggio may be doing more than just righting the ship, too.
The 27-year-old’s most well-documented offensive weakness hasn’t been much of a problem this year, as he’s been handling pitches 95 mph or fast better in 2022 than he ever has in his career:
Swinging Strike %
A small-sample warning clearly applies, but in 38 games Biggio already has as many hits on pitches 95 mph-plus (4) than he did in 79 last season. His spray chart against those pitches also shows that he’s been able to pull them authority this year, as opposed to just dumping them the other way.
Adding in a pinch of strong play at first base that’s including some nifty highlights like this double play…
… and it’s been an impressive stretch for Biggio.
While it’s not fair to expect him to produce an .897 OPS for too much longer, it hasn’t taken long for the utility man to reshape his narrative. Biggio is no longer in a downward spiral validating the notion that his early-season success outpaced his talent. In fact, his season-long offensive numbers are significantly better than what starting second baseman Santiago Espinal has produced.
Superior defence has Espinal safe in his role, but Biggio is earning plenty of playing time as well. Not because he’s a left-handed bat on a team that lacks them, but because of production that justifies it.