With leadoff man Devon Travis on the mend to open 2016, Kevin Pillar was afforded the top spot in one of the most potent batting orders in baseball. Unfortunately, he was unable to lock down the role, hitting just .198/.231/.291 in 86 at-bats as Toronto's table setter. Despite the disappointment, Pillar found a home at the bottom of the lineup and hit .277 when penciled in at the bottom third of the order, including .324/.369/.419 in 148 at-bats as the eighth hitter. Pillar is a solid contact hitter (82.2 percent rate in 2016) but has minimal power for an outfielder (.109 ISO) and doesn't get on base enough (.303 career OBP) to make him more than a below-average offensive threat (80 wRC+ last season). After swiping 25 bags in 2015, the 27-year-old disappointed by stealing just 14 bases on 20 tries. The center fielder's elite defense will continue to make him a mainstay in the Jays lineup, but fantasy leagues don't award points for web gems. A spot near the bottom of the lineup also caps his fantasy upside.
Pillar will not suit up for Team Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Jon Morosi reports. The consensus had been that Pillar would play in the 2017 WBC for Israel, but that is no longer the case. After hitting .278 with 12 homers and 25 stolen bases in 2015, the Jays' center fielder had a disappointing season last year (.266 with seven home runs and 14 stolen bases). His lackluster performance cost him the leadoff job, negatively affecting his plate appearances and opportunities to collect fantasy-worthy stats. If Devon Travis struggles atop the team's batting order this season, Pillar may get another crack at the job, but that's not on the radar just yet. His stellar defense will make him a mainstay in the Jays' lineup; however, the 28-year-old entering his fourth season is best-suited for deeper leagues as of now.
Pillar went 3-for-4 with a double and scored a run in Tuesday's win over Seattle. It was Pillar's second straight three-hit performance, raising his average to .268, its highest mark since July 30, and identical to the 27-year-old's career batting average. He's enjoying September, hitting .300 while getting on-base more than 38 percent of the time, Pillar's highest OBP for any month this season. Tuesday's double was his career-high 34th of the season.
Pillar went 3-for-4 with a two-run double and a run scored in Tuesday's loss to the Yankees. Pillar is known more for his defense, but he delivered with the bat in this one. He looked like the hero after his eighth-inning double gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead, but Toronto failed to hold on. Don't expect a repeat effort any time soon considering Pillar had driven in just one run in his previous nineteen games.
Pillar went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Monday's loss to the Yankees. It wasn't an enjoyable Labor Day for the outfielder. Not only did he have a forgettable day at the plate, Pillar also narrowly avoided a brutal collision with fellow outfielder Ezequiel Carrera late in the game. Since returning from the DL with a thumb injury, Pillar is 12-for-44 (.273) with a lonely RBI and six runs scored. The 27-year-old's elite defense keeps him locked in the Jays potent lineup, but his offensive production is average at best.
Pillar is back in the lineup Saturday against Minnesota, Barry Davis of SportsNet reports. As expected, Pillar will return to the outfield after an illness kept him out of action Friday night. Pillar will get the nod in center, while Melvin Upton starts in left and Michael Saunders starts in right.