At Midpoint, Bo Bichette Leads Player Of Year Race

Bo Bichette (Photo by Paul Gierhart)

What Bo Bichette has done this year is starting to defy explanation.

While some scouts considered Bichette to be among the best hitters in the 2016 draft class, many others didn't like the noise in his swing, worrying that the deep load he takes to start his swing would leave him vulnerable to advanced pitching and premium velocity. The Blue Jays fell in the former camp and took Bichette in the second round out of his St. Petersburg, Fla., high school.

So far, the 19-year-old Bichette is showing he can hit pretty much anyone, though as a Class A player he has a long way to go to reach the big leagues.

Bichette hit .384/.448/.623 with 10 home runs in 70 games. He collected three or more hits in a game 12 times. Bichette's average is notable because no minor league batter has hit .400 this century. Making his half-season performance even more remarkable is the fact that Bichette has flirted with .400 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League.

Scouts have long held that the cold weather of the MWL's first two months suppresses hitting to a significant degree. Since 1963 when minor league baseball reorganized and entered the modern era (a stretch of 54 seasons), just 18 MWL hitters have finished with batting averages above .350. Outfielder Ben Revere holds the modern-day record with a .379 batting average in 2008.

It's not unusual for the MWL batting champ to finish somewhere between .320 and .330, and four of the past five league batting champs have failed to top .330.

While Bichette still required 90 plate appearances to qualify for the MWL batting title through June, he could go hitless in those 90 at-bats and still hit .296. Going 2-for-90 would preserve his .300 average. Bichette, however, is headed for the Florida State League after the Futures Game.

In other words, Bichette was halfway home to completing one of the great minor league seasons of the 21st Century.

TOP MiLB AVERAGES, 2000-Present
Year Player AVG
2011 Jose Altuve .389
2005 Rick Short .383
2006 James Loney .380
2006 Kevin Kouzmanoff .379
2008 Terry Tiffee .378
2003 Adam Eaton .375
2012 Jeremy Reed .373
2005 Howie Kendrick .367
2004 Garrett Atkins .366
2008 Jamie D'Antona .365
TOP MiLB AVERAGES, 1963-Present
Year Player AVG
2008 Ben Revere .379
1964 Dave May .368
2010 Mike Trout .362
1999 Carlos Urquiola .362
2001 Jason Bay .362
1964 Edmondo Moxey .362
1999 Sean Burroughs .359
1996 Kerry Robinson .359
1998 Pablo Ozuna .358
Note: The minors reorganized into their current form in 1963.