As the 2016 regular season begins, the Blue Jays have put their faith in Kevin Pillar as the new lead-off hitter. A defensive machine, Pillar has become one of the most exciting players to watch in the centerfield. But can his success in the field, transition into becoming a successful lead-off man for the Jays?
Pillar finished the season last year posting a .314 OBP with 31 doubles and 25 SB over 159 games played. His 31 doubles were tied for second on the Blue Jays and were only trailing the AL MVP Josh Donaldson (41). It was definitely is best offensive season to date. This provided the Jays with a serious threat near the bottom of the order. If Pillar is able to replicate or expand on those numbers, the team will have a valuable leadoff man who can disrupt pitchers early and put himself in scoring position often.
Since the Blue Jays are loaded with offensive talent, Pillar only needs to find himself on base and good things will happen. Problems will occur if he tries to do more than his role demands. In terms of his role, a key is going to be his patience. One thing Pillar has struggled with in the past is chasing pitches outside of the zone. If he can be disciplined at the plate, he should be able to run up counts and give his teammates a good feel for the pitcher.
At the beginning of spring training, we were led to believe there was a competition for the lead-off spot. As the pre season progressed, it was clear the decision was already made for Pillar to be the lead-off man. Hopefully, the teams’ faith in Pillar transcends and he helps the Blue Jays succeed in the regular season.