Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Has Kevin Pillar Turned Back Into a Pumpkin?

We’ve all been wowed by the improvements Kevin Pillar has made at the plate so far this season. Now hitting atop a suddenly all-powerful Jays lineup, Pillar appears to have done on the offensive side of the ball what he did a few years ago on the defensive side, smoothing out the key flaws in his game, and thus transforming himself into a very valuable big league hitter.

This spring he made it clear that he was making an effort to get better with the bat. For example, he spent two games in the Jays’ minor league camp trying to add bunting to his offensive arsenal. That experiment failed — he went 0-for-7 in his two all-bunt games — but some simpler changes made perhaps an even bigger difference. Pillar became determined to be a little less aggressive, especially with two strikes, and more disciplined when it comes to laying off the sort of low-and-away breaking stuff that had always seemed the bane of his existence as a hitter.

These weren’t necessarily just one-off “OK guys, I’m going to start trying now” changes, like the bunt experiment was, either. Year by year, Pillar has decreased the percentage of balls outside the strike zone that he’s swung at, and as such decreased his number of swinging strikes overall.

The numbers speak for themselves: