Despite being the finest defensive outfielder to ever play for the Toronto Blue Jays, never do I recall Devon White ever diving for a fly-ball. With his incredible speed, he could pretty much run down almost anything without having to lay out for it. And with his solid instincts, he almost always knew when to hold up for a ball and let it drop in for a hit.
Grady Sizemore on the other hand had an awful habit of diving for fly balls that were well out of reach. He’d sometimes dive for a ball that was a good five feet from his glove.
It was that reckless style of play that contributed to his career being far shorter than it should have been. Much like Kevin Pillar, Sizemore rarely missed a game during his first five years in the league. Between 2005-2008, he played all but nine games. During his final five seasons however, as he got into his late 20’s and the injuries began to pile-up, Sizemore would never play more than 112 games in a given year.
Now that he’s 30 years of age, Pillar can’t be going all out on defense like we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him. This might be a difficult approach for Pillar given that this aggressiveness has played such a large role in the player he’s become. If altering his style in the outfield is something Pillar isn’t capable of, then the Blue Jays need to make an effort to provide him with more regular rest. And with Randal Grichuk, they already have someone more than capable of playing centerfield when Pillar is given a day off.
Pillar’s AVG, OBP, and dWAR have declined every year since he became a starter back in 2015. The combination of regularly putting his body on the line and how often he plays is taking away from his effectiveness both at the plate and in the field. They say catcher is the toughest position on the body, well I’d wager the way Pillar goes about playing outfield is just as grueling.
Pillar’s offensive and defensive statistics don’t necessarily have to decline for a fourth straight season in 2019. With added rest and a slight change of approach (Devon White approach) that involves less diving, he might just become a more effective player.