Photo Credit: © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cavan Biggio is proving that he’s worth the roster spot

The narrative surrounding Cavan Biggio has always been tricky.

Despite not having the same pedigree as a prospect as Vladimir Guererro Jr. and Bo Bichette, Biggio frequently gets lumped into the same category as the Blue Jays’ cornerstone duo. They’re viewed as a Big Three, largely because they came up at the same time and they’re all the sons of former Major League stars.

The reality is, Biggio isn’t in that same class as Bo and Vlad. And that isn’t a knock against Biggio. That’s more a testament to how good the other two are. Biggio came into 2019 as Toronto’s No. 9 rated prospect thanks to a breakout season in Double-A fuelled by an overhaul to his swing. Before that, he was looked at as an org guy who was only really even noticed because of his last name.

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So, on one hand, you have the Blue Jays side of things, in which fans are hyping up Biggio as part of this Big Three who are going to change the fortunes of the organization. On the other hand, you have the outside perspective, in which analysts don’t see Major League upside worth writing home about.

Keith Law, for example, has been notoriously critical of Biggio. Even after Biggio got called up to the big leagues and fared quite well, Law suggested that Biggio was “not worth the roster spot.”

This comment came a few weeks ago when Biggio was mired in the first big slump of his big league career. At the time, Biggio’s wRC+ had dipped below 100, he was struggling to hit the ball for any kind of power, and he was starting to look like, as pointed out by Andrew Stoeten, a 2018 Russell Martin.

Since late-August, though, Biggio has turned things around. Last night represented an exclamation point on what has been a very good run of play for Biggio over the past couple weeks. Biggio torched the Trash Birds, becoming the third-ever Blue Jays to hit for the cycle.

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Of course, I’m not going to use anecdotal evidence on a one-game sample against a Quad-A team to say that Biggio is really good. I mean, hitting for the cycle is cool, but it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Still, Biggio’s wRC+ is up to 112 on the season and he leads Blue Jays position players in WAR according to Baseball-Reference (FanGraphs isn’t as kind on his defensive metrics). He’s slashing a .230/.361/.425 line with 14 homers (a 25-homer pace over 162 games) and he’s taken the second-most walks on the team despite having played in just 89 games.

Now, I’m not here just to rag on Law’s shitty, trolly comment that Biggio isn’t worth a roster spot. Law has notoriously been critical of all things Jays-related for reasons completely unknown but he still has completely valid points when it comes to Biggio. Law left Biggio off his top prospects list for the organization coming into 2019 because of some glaring holes in his game and superficially inflated results. As Stoeten pointed out in that post I linked earlier, those holes still clearly exist in his big league game.

He still doesn’t hit high-quality pitching, his glove isn’t particularly good, and he shouldn’t be viewed in the same category as Bo and Vlad as future stars and franchise cornerstones as the bloodline narrative would suggest. But when you see what he’s done over the first 89 games of his career, the power, the veteran approach, and the leadership, it’s hard not to see a player here.

Biggio might not be a star, but that’s fine. Not every player internally developed needs to be making the All-Star team and getting MVP votes. If Biggio can become Toronto’s version of something in the same vein as what Ben Zobrist was to the Tampa Bay Rays, that would be fantastic. If he just becomes a platoon bat who can play around the diamond and hit for some power, there’s value in that too.

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At the very least, I’m certain Biggio is worth the roster spot.