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Blue Jays – Daulton Varsho’s spring stats hopefully a sign of things to come in 2024 (and beyond)

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Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
26 days ago
Last offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks swung a deal that saw each club address an area of weakness by dipping into where their depth had a surplus in comparison. For the Jays, that was at the catcher position, with Ross Atkins and co. sending top prospect Gabriel Moreno and corner outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the desert in exchange for Daulton Varsho, a left-handed batting outfielder who was known for his plus defence and sneaky power at the plate.
Fast forward a year later and many Blue Jays fans are still not fully on board with the trade, especially after the Diamondbacks made the World Series last year and Moreno isn’t free agent eligible until after the 2028 season.
To add fuel to the fire, Varsho struggled mightily at the plate in his inaugural campaign with the Jays, sporting a .220/.285/.389 slash line with an 85 OPS+ and a .256 BAbip. While his defensive play was as advertised (29 DRS between LF and CF with 10 outfield assists), he struck out a 23.2% clip while most of his 3.9 bWAR came from his defensive play (0.8 attributed to his oWAR).

Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho has been impressive this spring training

The one benefit of Varsho compared to Moreno is his power, as the left-handed batter amassed 20 home runs with 61 RBIs, tying Bo Bichette on the team with his homer tally while ranking fifth in the RBI category. Moreno has a solid plate presence and higher contact values but Varsho has the upper hand in the power department for extra-base hits.
Looking towards the 2024 season, Varsho will be the club’s go-to left fielder with Kevin Kiermaier brought back on a one-year contract, with the Gold Glover likely to take a majority of his reps in centre field. Varsho will occupy both spots over the year, sliding to centre field when Kiermaier gets a day off or manager John Schneider alters the lineup depending on the opposing pitcher. With a left-hander on the mound, Varsho can occupy centre while Davis Schneider, a right-handed bat, could move to left field in Varho’s spot and add another right-handed bat in the lineup to combat opposing southpaws.
On a positive note, Varsho has put forth an impressive showing at the plate early this year as well, a sign of things to hopefully come for the left-hander this year.
This spring, the 27-year-old Wisconsin product has been putting the ball in play with regularity, going 12 for 33 at the plate (.364) while posting a .476 OBP, a .455 SLG, and a .931 OPS while adding six stolen bases. With Whit Merrifield departing this offseason, Varsho’s speed on the basepaths will be a welcome addition to the lineup.
More impressively, Varsho has only three strikeouts on his resume this spring, a vast improvement from the .196/.283/.353 he put up last March with 15 strikeouts through 51 at-bats. Varsho has also added three doubles and seven RBIs through 14 spring games but has yet to put one over the outfield wall even with the impressive plate appearances.
Coming into a new year, Varsho appears to have tinkered with his stance at the plate and his reaping the results early. The outfielder is generating tons of hard contact, routinely hitting 90+ MPH in average exit velocity while also making better pitch selections and generating fewer whiffs with his new stance.
Overall, the offseason adjustments and the improved approach seem to be working for Varsho heading into his sophomore campaign with the Toronto Blue Jays. Fans are already aware of his impressive defensive abilities but if he can reach a new level with his bat, Varsho could find himself pushing past the 5.0 bWAR mark and become one of the more important players on the Jays roster by season’s end, sticking it to the Jays/Dbacks trade critics.

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