TORONTO -- With Eric Sogard out of the lineup for what manager Charlie Montoyo called a regular day off on Friday, Cavan Biggio slid in as the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter for their series opener against the Rays at the Rogers Centre in what may be a sign of things
TORONTO -- With Eric Sogard out of the lineup for what manager Charlie Montoyo called a regular day off on Friday, Cavan Biggio slid in as the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter for their series opener against the Rays at the Rogers Centre in what may be a sign of things to come.
Sogard’s name continues to surface in reports, including recent discussions with the Cubs and the Giants, according to reports by Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com and MLB Network. If the Blue Jays choose to move the versatile 33-year-old, who is hitting .299 with an .843 OPS, Biggio’s name could suddenly be much more common atop Montoyo’s lineup.
“He sees a lot of pitches,” Montoyo said. “He’s got what it takes to be a good leadoff guy.”
Montoyo’s lineups have been a series of moving parts all season, but he has tried to quiet that down recently with some combination of Sogard, Freddy Galvis, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Justin Smoak up top. Biggio has primarily hit fourth or sixth, but a more permanent move into the leadoff spot would nail down another piece for the rest of the lineup to orbit around.
Biggio already ranks second on the team behind Smoak in walks despite still being shy of his 50th game. Despite a .208 batting average, he entered the weekend series with a .342 on-base percentage that should creep up as his bat comes around.
“My natural approach is to see a lot of pitches and take my walks when they’re handed to me,” Biggio said. “Whether I’m in the four hole or leadoff, I’m just continuing to do the same thing.”
With a .448 on-base percentage at Triple-A Buffalo this season prior to his promotion and a .388 mark at Double-A New Hampshire in 2018, Biggio has a track record of doing exactly what the Blue Jays have struggled to do, which is to reach base consistently. Toronto has sat near the bottom of the American League in team on-base percentage for most of the season, and it entered its series against the Rays with a .298 OBP.
The challenge for Biggio now is adjusting to pitchers and teams, who are seeing him for the second or third time. The 24-year-old puts in a little extra video work prior to his starts as the leadoff man and tries to gather as much information as he can in that first plate appearance without anyone in front of him to see pitches.
After a strong start in late May and early June, Biggio has cooled off. Now, it’s his turn to counter the adjustments that pitchers have made against him. Biggio’s advanced plate approach, which has been lauded through his prospect days, sets him up to do exactly that.
“The biggest adjustment that I’ve seen teams make is getting ahead early and, with two strikes, continuing to throw strikes instead of trying to get me to chase a ball,” Biggio said. “I think the first round through, I was doing a good job of laying off the two-strike pitches, whether it was curveballs falling through the zone or balls up. The second round through, they’re starting me off with strikes and trying to finish me with strikes.”