TORONTO — 137 games into his second full MLB season, Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette is feeling the wear and tear, but his numbers are better than they’ve been all season.
The 24-year-old’s been on fire over his last 20 games, slashing .415/.473/.781. From September 5-11, Bichette had a particularly productive week (5 HRs, 13 RBI), earning him American League Player of the Week honors.
"It’s pretty cool," Bichette said of his award. "Especially at this time of year."
As Bichette pointed out, the timing of his offensive eruption has been massive for Toronto. The Blue Jays are currently tangled up with the Mariners and Rays for the final three AL wild-card spots and are relying on every ounce of offense to jump up the standings.
So far, the bats have stayed active in September—Toronto’s 136 wRC+ is 2nd in MLB—largely due to Bichette’s emergence. He got the train started and his teammates have hopped aboard.
"I know how important I am to this lineup," said Bichette, who’s reclaimed his role in the meat of the order. "So just every day, come here and try to do our best and see what I can do for the team. But we have so many guys capable of taking over the game at any point."
Blue Jays manager John Schneider’s been awestruck by Bichette’s success of late.
"It's kind of remarkable," Schneider said. "We were all shaking our heads, starting with that doubleheader in Baltimore, but it's kind of the hitter that he is, that he can be. And I think that he is locked in right now and not missing pitches, taking pitches confidently.
"His plan is great; his execution is better. So he's just doing what he is capable of doing right now."
The next step is to get Bichette’s co-star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. out of his recent funk. The 23-year-old hasn’t slugged up to his MVP standards from a year ago, and the troubles have ballooned lately as he’s slashed .196/.260/.239. But Bichette knows Guerrero well, and he sees some positive trends in his teammate’s last handful of at-bats.
"I thought he looked really good [last series]," Bichette said. "He turned around some good heaters, tough pitches to hit. When Vladdy’s going good, he’s the best in the game, in my opinion. So I'm sure he'll get it going this series, he’s looked good, and I look forward to seeing it."
Schneider said he feels like his squad is close to playing its best ball of the season. Starting pitching is a critical piece of the puzzle, he said, but the bats have generated decent momentum, too.
"Right now, we're pretty comfortable with, happy, or proud of the brand of baseball we're playing for sure," the skipper said.
On the cusp of eight games in seven days (all against the Rays and Orioles), the Blue Jays are lucky morale is high, because this homestand could have season-altering consequences, for better or for worse.