Chris Bassitt Trusts Blue Jays Infielders to Perform

Blue Jays Chris Bassitt innovates defensive strategy on the mound

by Zain ul Abedin
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Chris Bassitt Trusts Blue Jays Infielders to Perform
© Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Each time the veteran pitcher Chris Bassitt takes the mound could be a strategic edge for the Toronto Blue Jays. During a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 8, 2024, Bassitt showed his unique approach by not just pitching skillfully but also positioning his infielders strategically.

This approach, akin to a quarterback's audible, involves deliberate pitch selection, utilizing PitchCom, and cleverly managing the pitch clock to disrupt hitters' timing. However, Bassitt's game plan goes beyond these tactics.

He actively positions defenders behind him, adjusting their placements with subtle gestures. This rare practice in modern baseball underscores his commitment to finding an edge beyond conventional defensive analytics. Bo Bichette and Davis Schneider, Blue Jays infielders, understand the value of Bassitt's insights.

"He’s a smart pitcher," Schneider remarked. "He knows hitters' tendencies, and if he thinks the hitter’s going to target a certain spot, I trust his judgment completely."

Bassitt's Keen Instincts

Bichette, who has been repositioned by Bassitt since 2023, acknowledges the pitcher’s keen eye.

Recently, Bassitt's gestures have become more noticeable, catching the attention of others. "He’s the only pitcher who moves us around, and his instincts often prove accurate," Bichette said. Blue Jays manager John Schneider recognizes the rarity and effectiveness of Bassitt’s approach.

"If you reposition infielders, you must execute," he stated. "It’s challenging to out-smart established tendencies, but veteran players like Bassitt can do it." Bassitt, now in his 10th MLB season, appreciates the blend of analytics and on-field intuition.

While defensive alignments are data-driven, Bassitt believes in adjusting based on real-time observations. "Analytics are invaluable, but if I’m modifying my pitching strategy, I’ll also adjust the defense accordingly," Bassitt explained.

For example, against a pull-heavy right-handed hitter, Bassitt might motion the second baseman closer to first base if he observes the hitter adjusting their approach. "If a hitter stays late on a fastball, they’re likely to push it toward the four-hole.

I aim to anticipate and counter that," he said. This dual advantage not only optimizes infield positioning but also signals to hitters that Bassitt is onto their strategies, potentially disrupting their focus. The dynamic between Bassitt and his infielders is a collaborative one, with pre-game discussions and mutual trust playing crucial roles.

"He empowers me to adjust as needed," Bichette added. "But ultimately, he’s controlling the game, and if he wants me in a certain spot, that’s where I’ll be." While Bassitt’s influence is confined to the infield, his approach is appreciated and respected.

"Chris is a bit of an outlier," the manager noted, "but his strategies work." With Bassett ready for his next start against the Pirates, his combination of analytical insight and on-field intuition remains an invaluable asset for the Blue Jays, his relentless pursuit for an edge a model of dedication to this game and his team.

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