John Gibbons is back with another episode of 3 Up, 3 Down as he explains why the Blue Jays should extend Kevin Kiermaier's stay in Toronto.
Kevin Kiermaier has made an impact in his short time in Toronto. The 33-year-old centre fielder spent the first 10 seasons of his career as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays before signing a one-year deal with the Blue Jays last December.
That contract has already paid off for the Jays, according to former manager John Gibbons.
“He’s a catalyst for your team, he’s an energizer. Still one of the best centre fielder’s in the game, if not arguably the best.”
The numbers support Gibby’s claim.
From 2013 to 2022, Kiermaier accumulated a 25.3 fWAR (FanGraphs WAR), along with 147 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and a 68 OAA (Outs Above Average) in 7,235.2 outfield innings. A below average batter in that time, he slashed .248/.308/.407 with 82 home runs in 3,351 plate appearances.
Kiermaier has improved his performance on both sides of the ball since arriving in Toronto and he is on pace for a career-year in almost all statistical categories. He’s slashing .317/.372/.492, all career-highs, with three homers in 138 plate appearances.
If you want to compare Kiermaier to other Jays players, consider his 141 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus), which ties him with Bo Bichette and is actually better than Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brandon Belt and Alejandro Kirk.
Shifting away from the analytics, Gibbons thinks Kiermaier adds a different element to Toronto’s game. Toronto is a slugging team, but Kiermaier adds the element of speed, according to Gibbons.
“He can steal second, he could steal third. With an infield in, you can run the contact play with him. You need those guys to set the table.”
For reference, Kiermaier is a perfect 5-for-5 when stealing bases this season.
For Gibby, however, the most important thing to consider about Kiermaier is that he loves Toronto and Toronto loves him, but this also isn’t about doing a favour for Kiermaier.
“This guys is a difference-maker, he showed that all those years in Tampa.”
Last year, Kiermaier missed the last three months of the season because of hip surgery, but Gibbons thinks Kiermaier has done enough to prove he’s healthy and he continues to show that.
“And you know what, it never hurts to have one of the good guys around, either.”