So this is a good record, one that would have appeared in the old The Sporting News Complete Baseball Record Book: Bo Bichette has doubled in nine games in a row. Legitimate stuff here, not mere trivia -- not that there's anything wrong with trivia -- and thank the baseball gods it has nothing to do with home runs.
Even more impressive, the Toronto Blue Jays rookie has played just 11 games in the major leagues. This is Harrison Ford entering the cave in the first 10 minutes of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and grabbing the golden figure. This is the beginning of "Jaws," only slightly less terrifying. In less than two weeks, Bichette managed to steal the spotlight from teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He's hitting .408. He has 13 extra-base hits. Given that Bichette has the chance to stick at shortstop and Guerrero might soon end up at first base, the idea that Bichette will be the more valuable all-around player over the long term isn't a ridiculous notion.
That's a discussion for another day. Let's focus on this amazing streak of two-base hits. When Earl Webb set the single-season record in 1931 with 67 doubles, his best streak was just five games in a row with a double. Derrek Lee set the modern record (since 1900) with eight consecutive games in 2007 and Yadier Molina matched that in 2016.
I went back and checked the video for all nine doubles. Here's what I saw:
No. 1: 0-0 fastball from Jakob Junis, ground ball down the line (100-mph exit velocity).
This was the first pitch of the game, and Bichette did a nice job of pulling his hands in on a high fastball on the inside corner. All the scouts talk about Bichette's quick hands, and he pulled a tough pitch that most hitters wouldn't even swing at.
No. 2: 0-2 sinker from Richard Bleier, grounder up the middle (86 mph).
Bichette stuck his bat out on a good pitch off the plate and dribbled it up the middle -- not sure where that 86 mph comes from. The ball snuck through both middle infielders, and the Baltimore center fielder must have been picking daisies as Bichette hustled into second base.
No. 3: 1-1 fastball from Aaron Brooks, fly ball off the base of the wall in right-center (103 mph).
The camera angle on this one was a low shot from behind home plate and it looked like a routine fly ball to right-center, though the ball kept carrying all the way to the fence. A good example of Bichette's bat speed and the pop he carries in a smallish frame. (He's listed at 6 foot, but no way is he 6 foot.)
No. 4: 3-2 slider from Dylan Bundy, soft liner down the left-field line (86 mph).
A bad pitch from Bundy, a slider that hung out over the plate. Really, Bichette should have crushed this pitch, but he got it off the end of the bat a bit and hit a little line drive to left field. It didn't even get to the wall, but he had an easy stand-up double. Bichette has an interesting stance, with the back of his front foot lifted off the ground as he balances on his toes waiting for the pitch.
It certainly looks uncomfortable. On this double, he simply pivoted on the front feet, relying purely on his hands. He usually lifts that front leg as his timing mechanism, but he's not a big strider. His dad, Dante, also had an unconventional setup.
No. 5: 0-0 fastball from Jimmy Yacabonis, line drive to left field (105 mph).
Another first pitch leading off a game, a two-seam fastball with pretty good movement that rode in on his hands. But Bichette was quick enough to pull another one into left field, and his speed made it an easy double.
No. 6: 0-2 fastball from Charlie Morton, double off the top of the wall in right field (96 mph).
Once again leading off the game, Morton put the pitch right where he wanted to, 95 mph, up and away, a little out of the zone, but Bichette lofted it to right, just out of the reach of Austin Meadows, who could have caught it with a better-timed leap. Bichette took a wide turn around second and held up with another double.
No. 7: 0-0 cutter from Ryan Yarbrough, soft liner over third base (69 mph).
Another pitch in on his hands. Bichette didn't hit it hard, but it was right over the bag and into the corner.
No. 8: 0-2 fastball from Brendan McKay, line drive to left field (96 mph).
McKay tried to sneak a fastball past Bichette on the inside corner and Bichette turned on it. Good location -- at least, that's where the catcher set up. Are we getting the idea that Bichette can hit inside fastballs?
No. 9: 3-1 fastball from Chad Green, smoked into right-center (107 mph).
The hardest hit of the nine. Green elevated a 97-mph fastball at the top of the zone Thursday and Bichette ripped it into the gap. Yes, it seems like he can hit the fastball. Indeed, it's not surprising to find out that of his 11 strikeouts so far in the majors, seven have come on breaking balls (six sliders, one curveball). Two of the four strikeouts on fastballs were looking, with the two swinging fastball strikeouts coming on 96- and 98-mph heat.
Anyway, what an impressive start -- don't forget that before doubling off Green, he homered off Domingo German, his fourth home run already. It's worth noting that Bichette wasn't tearing it up at Triple-A, hitting .275/.333/.473. He hit .286/.343/.453 last year at Double-A. Of course, he has been very young for his leagues and will spend this entire season at 21.
He's pretty aggressive at the plate, with fairly low walk rates in the minors and a high chase rate so far in the majors (38 percent), so we'll see if pitchers learn to exploit that down the road. Bichette has that special hand-eye coordination that few hitters possess, and combined with his speed, he looks like a player who can become a consistent .300 hitter. I'm not sure how much power he'll grow into, and you almost hate to see him sacrifice his bat-to-ball skills to sell out for home runs down the road.
It's only 11 games, but the early analysis is that Bichette is the real deal, with potential to become an All-Star middle infielder.