From afar, Bo Bichette's 2020 season looks like a success. At age 22, he hit .301 and posted an .840 OPS. If you hit like that while playing shortstop, you’re an all-star calibre player. If you do it at 22, you’re in some select company.
But the year ended in a playoff sweep at Tropicana Field where Bichette committed two errors in the season’s decisive game. It was a frustrating ending to a bizarre, disjointed season postponed by the pandemic and interrupted by a knee injury. Afterwards, Bichette was disappointed he hadn’t done more with it.
“I think it stemmed from maybe the mental energy I had, I don’t know what it was,” Bichette told Toronto-based media Monday. “Last year took a toll on everybody and I think I didn’t handle it as well as some of the guys around the league did. For me it’s about learning from that.”
With that goal in mind, Bichette attempted to channel his disappointment into motivation as he planned for the year ahead. He wanted to improve across the board: become physically stronger, sharpen his focus, refine his defence and take his offence to another level. Based on what others are seeing from him early in Blue Jays camp, Bichette’s last few months were productive.
"I can tell Bo's been working," said second baseman Marcus Semien. "You can tell he's made adjustments and feels good."
Manager Charlie Montoyo sees more arm strength and better hands from Bichette on defence. The power seems to be there, too. After an off-season of workouts, “his legs are huge,” Montoyo said.
In 2021, the Blue Jays will finally get to see Bichette play a full big-league season for the first time. In Montoyo’s view, Bichette has everything it takes to be an all-star at his position. If he reaches that potential in 2021, the Blue Jays’ chances of reaching the playoffs again will improve considerably. And along the way, some intriguing decisions would emerge for Bichette and those in the Toronto front office.