When I was with the now former SBNation site Beyond the Box Score, I wrote an article entitled “Cavan Biggio struggling to keep up with the legacies.” Therein, I examined Biggio in relation to his generational counterparts up in Toronto. It wasn’t necessarily a favorable picture.
It didn’t help that Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. likely would’ve ran away with the American League MVP were it not for the existence of Shohei Ohtani. Nor did it help that Bo Bichette’s first full Major League season featured a fWAR over five. It’s tough to keep up with a pair of teammates on a similar timeline as yourself. Even if the expected trajectory was never necessarily the same. It’s even tougher when the name on the back of your jersey is shared by a player recently enshrined in Cooperstown.
And that’s where Cavan Biggio continues to find himself. The Toronto Blue Jays optioned Biggio to Triple-A earlier this week. This came after 28 plate appearances and a stint on the Covid-IL. Upon his activation, Biggio was bound for Buffalo.
A Rough Start
Not that those 28 plate appearances were terribly inspiring. Biggio’s singular hit resulted in a .043 average, while he reached base at a .214 clip. His strikeout rate was up over 35 percent. He made very little hard contact (at just a shade under 24 percent) and was putting the ball on the ground at an obscene rate (53.8 percent). Now we’re obviously talking about the smallest of sample sizes. But Biggio needed a very different beginning to his 2022 campaign.
Don’t forget, Biggio had already come into the season with a narrower path to playing time. Toronto acquired Matt Chapman to hold down third base. Santiago Espinal nailed down the starting gig at second base very quickly. His 1.3 fWAR trails only three other players at the keystone. And while Biggio has seen the occasional trip to the outfield grass, the Jays feature Bradley Zimmer and Raimel Tapia coming off the bench. It’s a tight squeeze for a Toronto club hoping to make noise in the American League East.
So what does that mean for Cavan Biggio?
Still a Piece of the Puzzle?
It might not necessarily mean anything. Maybe it’s a quick trip south, Biggio sort of figures it out, and he ends up back in Toronto as a super-utility type. But what if he doesn’t? Does he end up as the infamous change-of-scenery candidate? As we move slowly toward the trade deadline, there are likely a lot of teams that could be willing to take a chance on a profile like that. The pedigree, the versatility, and the approach all present plenty of appeal. Especially for a non-contender who might have some depth or relief help that Toronto could use for the stretch run.
Of course, at this point the former seems like the obvious and more likely route. Those 28 plate appearances are not nearly enough to evaluate anything, let alone communicate the idea that Biggio might have regressed. Even if he was the victim of a roster crunch, it was likely a temporary one. It’s May.
And what Biggio brings to the mix is likely more valuable to the Blue Jays than someone they might seek in a trade. He’d already played first, second, and right field prior to his IL stint and subsequent demotion. A plug-and-play option can be invaluable on a contending squad. Especially when you consider the most important part of his offensive skill set: his patience.
Impact Lies in the Approach
Offensively, the approach has always been among the more notable assets in his toolbox. Even with those tremendous struggles in those very few PAs, Biggio was still walking at a 10 percent clip. His walk rate for his career is near 15 percent. The Blue Jays, as a team, are walking just 7.7 percent of the time, which ranks 27th in the league. So Toronto may reach a point where Biggio becomes more of a necessity for their lineup than a fringe-y part of it, especially if they hope to generate more traffic on the basepaths.
As of right now, it’s a speedbump for Cavan Biggio. While he hasn’t been able to spark the type of buzz that his legacy counterparts have for an exciting Toronto ballclub, he doesn’t necessarily have to in order to be an effective player. That’s an important note: he doesn’t have to be. The last name and timeline will always draw those comparisons to Vladito & Bichette. But Biggio doesn’t feature a loud profile. At the same time, he likely features a necessary one. If Biggio gets things in order, we’ll likely see a quick return.
If that return doesn’t produce the desired effects, however, then the conversation could shift to something different. And fast.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)