For the past few seasons, Kevin Pillar has had to do far more running than most centerfielders on account of the lack of range of the players he often found himself next to in the Blue Jays outfield. With the additions of Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson, Toronto now essentially has three centerfielders and one of the best defensive outfields they’ve had in a long time. With Grichuk and Granderson playing alongside him, it’ll take a lot of the pressure off Pillar to cover as much ground as he’s been expected to since becoming the Blue Jays everyday centerfielder back in 2015.
In today’s game that places so much importance on what a player does at the plate, skills like outfield defense have fallen to the wayside. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to watch a big league outfielder struggle mightily to run back on a fly ball or fail to do something as basic as calling for a ball in order to communicate with your teammate that you got it.
At 36, soon to be 37 (March 16), Granderson isn’t the outfielder he was five years ago, but he’s still capable of playing every position in the outfield. Not to mention he has an arm (which will be making the majority of its throws from left field this season) that’s a far cry better than that of either Steve Pearce or Ezequiel Carrera. As for Grichuk, it wont take long for fans to realize he plays a very similar brand of defense to that of Pillar. He has above average range, a respectable arm, and an aggressive style that allows him to run down some very difficult fly balls.
As good defensively that an outfield consisting of Pillar, Grichuk and Granderson will be, the one thing they’re lacking is a big arm in right field. Although each of these three players have what would be considered solid outfield arms, the player expected to be in right field the majority of the time, Grichuk, doesn’t quite have an arm on par to what Blue Jay fans have grown accustomed to seeing from Jose Bautista.
Every great team in Blue Jays history, whether it be 1985, 1992, 1993, or 2015 played some spectacular defense, especially in the outfield. I’m not saying the 2018 Blue Jays will be anything close to as good as those wonderful teams, but it’ll be fun to see how many good things can come from having three quality defenders working together in the same outfield.