CLEVELAND, Ohio (WANE) – After spending the first 13 seasons of his professional career in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Kevin Kiermaier headed north of the border for 2023 – and is loving it.
A center fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays, the Fort Wayne native is having one of the best seasons of his MLB career. The Bishop Luers grad came into Tuesday hitting .274 with 5 home runs, 27 RBI, and 11 stolen bases this season. If his batting average holds, it would be the second-highest batting average of his career, topped only by his .276 average in 2017.
Of course, Kiermaier’s defense has always been his calling card. A three-time Gold Glove winner with the Rays, the Summit City is second among American League outfielders with 13 defensive runs saved this season and, thanks to solid metrics and a handful of highlight reel grabs, could be in position to win his fourth Gold Glove with a strong finish this season.
In fact, an article published by MLB.com this past summer says Kiermaier belongs in the discussion with Willie Mays, Andruw Jones, and Roberto Clemente as one of the best defensive outfielders of all time – and has the stats to back it up.
Additionally, Kiermaier narrowly missed making his first All-Star Game appearance this summer. The Luers grad was one of six finalists for the three starting spots in the American League outfield, but Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and Randy Arozarena were ultimately voted in as starters and Kiermaier was not selected as a reserve for the Midsummer Classic.
With about two more months left in the season – and, perhaps, more if the Blue Jays qualify for the playoffs (they’re currently 64-50 and hold the third and final A.L.. Wildcard spot) – Kiermaier will have a decision to make after the 2023 campaign wraps up. He signed a 1-year, $9 million deal with the Blue Jays this past December, meaning he’ll become a free agent again at the end of this season.
A 31st round draft pick (941st overall) by the Rays in 2010, the 33-year old Kiermaier has come a long way from his humble start in pro baseball. His 34.1 career WAR ranks him 28th among all active MLB players, ahead of stars like Kris Bryant, Juan Soto, and Jose Abreu.
WANE-TV caught up with Kiermaier ahead of Tuesday’s game in Cleveland, as Kiermaier and the Blue Jays are in the middle of a four-game series against the Guardians.