Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Kevin Kiermaier

Feb 1, 2023 - 5:27 PM
Tampa Bay Rays v <a href=Toronto Blue Jays - Game One" src="" />
Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Kevin Kiermaier signed with the Blue Jays on December 10th. He’s getting $9 million, with a $750,000 bonus based on days on the active roster.

This is after ten seasons with the Rays. His career batting line is .248/.308/.407 with 82 home runs and 112 stolen bases. Last year he hit .228/.281/.369 with 7 home runs. He missed a lot of time with a hip injury. He had surgery in July and missed the rest of the season.

Kevin is a lefty batter who has always hit right-handers much better than lefties. Career he has a .735 OPS against RHP, and .661 against LHP. He likely should platoon for the Jays, but then he’s in the lineup for his glove, not his bat.

Defensively, he’s won three Gold Gloves, but the last one was back in 2019. Last year he had a 3.1 UZR/150, but then his hip was bad. In 2021 his UZR/150 was 12.1. Last year his Outs Above Average was +1. But in 2021, it was a +12, third best in baseball among outfielders.

Fangraph’s Leo Morgenstern wrote about Kiermaier:

As long as his defense remains at its current level, however, Kiermaier is an average to slightly above-average player. Steamer projects him for 1.1 WAR in 382 PA next season, while ZiPS has him pegged for 1.6 WAR in 337 PA. That’s a two to three win pace over 650 PA, which fits comfortably in the “average to slightly above-average” bucket. Kiermaier is highly unlikely to play a full season – he’s injury prone and a liability against left-handed pitchers – but he’ll be a solid contributor in the 300-400 PA he does receive. With Springer to fill in the rest of the time, that should net the Blue Jays 3+ WAR from their center fielders. You can’t complain about that level of production.

He’ll be a big improvement on George Springer in center field, and Springer will be much better than Teoscar Hernandez in right (as well as letting George play an easier position, which, hopefully, will keep him in the lineup more). And with the new strange angles of the outfield walls, our center fielder will have more work backing up the corner guys.

Whether the improved defense will more than make up for the loss of Teoscar’s bat is the question.

My worry is that Buck will be praising him so much that I’d have the mute on for most of the game 162 times this year.

Streamer figures that Kevin will play 100 games, hitting .228/.286/.364 with 9 home runs and 9 steals.

I think we’ll enjoy watching him in the outfield.

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