Craig Biggio played 20 years in the big leagues and was inducted into the Hall of Fame (2015). In 1997, he played 162 games and put up a line of 22 homers, 146 runs, 81 RBI, and 47 stolen bases while batting .309 with an 11.3% walk rate and 14.4% strikeout rate! Ha! The following year, he only played 160 games (scrub) and hit 20 home runs, scored 123 runs, drove in 88, and stole 50 bases while batting .325 with an 8.7% walk rate and 15.3% strikeout rate!! WTF! This post isn’t about Craig, though. It’s about his son, Cavan Biggio, who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the last week, Cavan has been a top 20 player, yet is only owned in 13% of ESPN Leagues. On the Razzball Player Rater, he’s owned in 74% of leagues. While it’s safe to say Cavan won’t be putting up Hall of Fame numbers like his pops (at least not yet), is he flying under the radar?
Cavan is 24 years old, 6′ 2″ 200 pounds, and bats from the left side of the plate. He played three seasons at the University of Notre Dame before getting drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Blue Jays. He’s progressed quickly through the system and had a high mark of 26 home runs with 20 stolen bases in Double-A last season. The strikeout rate was high at 26.3%, but the walk rate was 17.8% and the ISO was .230. The batting average was only .252, though. And that was with a .307 BABIP.
For 2019, he spent 43 games in Triple-A before getting the call to The Show, where he hit .312 with a 19.5% walk rate and cut his strikeout rate to 16.1%. So far in 32 games (128 plate appearances) in the major leagues, Cavan is batting .248 with a 16.4% walk rate and 27.4% strikeout rate. The ISO is .219, which has translated to 6 home runs and he’s stolen 4 bases.
There’s a lot to like here (pedigree, power/speed combo, and plate discipline). There are also things that should give us pause (high strikeout rate and low batting average). Let’s dig a little deeper.
The batted ball profile is illuminating. The GB/FB ratio is 0.56. If he qualified, that would put him right behind Jorge Polance for the second-lowest mark in all of baseball. He also hasn’t popped up the ball in the infield while boasting a 17.6% HR/FB rate. The pull rate is 45.1%, but he is hitting the ball up the middle at a 42.3% clip. Throughout his minor league career, he did show a propensity to go oppo, but that hasn’t translated yet in the bigs. Here’s where things get interesting. The hard hit rate is 53.5%!!! For perspective, Christian Yelich leads the league with a 54.4% mark.
Transitioning over to our friends at Baseball Savant, they have Cavan with an 11.3% barrel rate (83rd), an exit velocity of 91.7 mph (36th), and a launch angle of 19.7 (22nd). The sample size is relatively small, but I’m very, very intrigued.
You all know I’m about that plate discipline life. Well, Cavan has a 7.1% swinging strike rate and only chases 12.6% of pitches outside the strike zone! The contact rate in the zone is 86.1%. Whoa. For perspective, Andrew McCutchen leads the league with a 17.7% chase rate. Not all is rosy, though, as the contact rate on pitches outside the zone is only at 52.4%. That probably explains the high strikeout rate. Looking at the Statcast Zone Charts, the zone where pitchers are striking out Cavan the most is up-and-away.
I say this with every young player, but pitchers will keep probing until they find a weakness. Then they will keep hammering away until adjustments are made. There will be lean times ahead for Cavan, but I’m optimistic for his prospects going forward. He has a discerning eye and exhibits patience at the plate. In addition, there are few holes in his swing. Finally, the Blue Jays seem to have confidence in him, as he has been batting fourth in the batting order against right-handed pitching and leadoff against lefties over the past eight games or so.