How Raimel Tapia's emergence re-frames Blue Jays' trade deadline needs

Watch as Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder Ramiel Tapia stretches out to make an incredible diving catch, robbing Boston Red Sox' Alex Verdugo of an extra base hit.

The idea that the Toronto Blue Jays lineup is too right-handed has been circulating for more than half a decade.

In 2015, a position-player core built around Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin was supplemented a couple of hours before the trade deadline by Ben Revere to mix things up a bit. 

Nowadays, a group headlined by Vladmir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Alejandro Kirk has sparked talk that Andrew Benintendi could be the missing piece.

In between the team got a 2017 All-Star appearance out of Justin Smoak and some 2020 flashes from Rowdy Tellez, but the need for a lefty bat has felt like a constant. 

Rather quietly that need has started to become less acute. That begins with Cavan Biggiowho’s come on strong lately and has a season-long wRC+ (119) in the same neighbourhood as Springer (123) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (121).

In the last six weeks or so, the club has also got surprisingly strong at-bats from the left side courtesy of Raimel Tapia. Thanks to a disastrous start to the season and some rough — but likely justified — defensive metrics, Tapia’s season-long numbers look like an ugly cocktail of punchless offence and poor fielding.

Where the 28-year-old nets outon defence remains to be seen, but it’s pretty clear his bat has come around. Since May 24 — the day the Blue Jays began an eight-game winning streak that got their season on track — Tapia has slashed .297/.324.465. While it’s easy to dismiss a quality run like that as batted-ball luck, his BABIP during that span (.341) is similar to his career number (.331).

Interestingly the power he’s shown, primarily of the gap variety, is extremely abnormal for him. Tapia’s ISO of .168 over the last 32 games, is the highest he’s posted in such a span in the last three seasons.

The former Colorado Rockie is never going to be known as a slugger, but it’s clear that he’s found a little more thump in his bat recently. According to Baseball Savant, only five hitters have improved their Hard Hit rate more than Tapia between 2021 and 2022 (+7.9%).

The speedy outfielder is currently sporting career highs in Hard Hit rate, average exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA and xwOBA on contact, sometimes by significant margins.


Hard-Hit rate

Exit Velo





Previous Career High


87.6 mph





2022 Stats


88.0 mph





These aren’t world-beating numbers or anything close, but when your whole offensive profile is built on putting the ball in play, your quality of contact matters — and it seems Tapia’s is better than his traditional stats would lead you to believe.

Some of that can be explained rather easily by luck/early-season dead-ball issues. This year Tapia has hit into 12 outs on balls 100 mph or harder with an xSLG of .500 or higher — or, put another way, balls you’d expect to be extra-base hits based on contact quality. In his previous three seasons combined (1,206 PA) he had just 11 such balls find gloves.

Even at his best, Tapia is never going to wow anyone with his bat, but he’s starting to look like the player the Blue Jays traded for — with the slightest sprinkling of untapped potential. He still hits the ball on the ground a lot (50.0%), but it’s not nearly as high as in 2021 (67.4%). His pull rate is still unremarkable (35.7%), but it’s still far higher than he managed over the last two years (27.3%). His contact quality is undeniably the best he’s ever produced, even if he hasn’t been rewarded for it.

At the end of the day, Biggio and Tapia aren’t going to strike fear into the hearts of opposing managers, or stop the parade of right-handed relievers the Blue Jays seem to see. Benintendi would be a fine addition to this squad, and if Toronto pushes some chips into the middle of the table to get him as a rental they’ll be better for it. That said, the Blue Jays are getting more quality from the left side than they might have imagined lately, and Tapia is starting to provide a more stable floor in the outfield — with a ceiling that’s at least mildly intriguing.

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