The 25-year-old went 2-for-4, hitting his first home run since Aug. 20 and producing his hardest-hit ball since July 28 (111.5 mph) on a line-drive single in the fourth inning.
He even worked a walk in his first trip to the plate, and authored a highlight-reel double play driven by a bold decision to not force the lead runner out at third.
It was the type of all-around performance the Blue Jays haven't gotten from Bichette in some time, which is fair considering the shortstop is still fewer than two weeks removed from an IL stint.
Even taking that into account, he hasn't been himself for quite a while, seeing as he was struggling prior to suffering his knee injury. In the two months prior to Tuesday's breakout game from July 18 to Sept. 18, his stats weren't pretty over a 30-game span:
Those are the type of numbers you might see from a shortstop who's a defensive specialist, not a top-of-the-lineup threat like Bichette. Prior to July 18, he slashed .317/.345/.497 with a 132 wRC+ — the 20th-best mark among all qualified hitters.
While Bichette's walk and strikeout rates have been relatively stable throughout the season, the way he's hit the ball has not. If we look at his first half/second half splits there are noticeable differences in the quality and direction of his contact.
Bichette hasn't hit the ball as hard in the second half, and he also hasn't used the whole field as much. For many hitters, pulling the ball is a priority, but Bichette has traditionally been at his best when he sprays.
While there are some exceptions, in recent years his best stretches often come when he's hitting the ball to right field consistently. Over the last four seasons he leads the major leagues in extra-base hits to the opposite field (73), while ranking 72nd in extra-base hits to centre and the pull side (119).
That's why seeing him drive one out to right field on Tuesday was such a good sign for the Blue Jays. When Bichette is rolling he's letting the ball travel rather than trying to catch it out in front of the plate. That doesn't work for everyone, but the fact it does for the shortstop is part of what makes him special.
In the first three months of the season he managed 15 extra-base hits to right field, but Tuesday's home run was just his fourth since July 1.
There are some elements of Bichette's hot start that will be difficult to replicate down the stretch. For instance, he didn't hit a single infield fly before July 29. That's prime Joey Votto stuff, and it requires a hitter's timing to be perfectly locked in. Most guys simply aren't capable of avoiding those easy outs over extended periods of time. As good as Bichette is, he's never demonstrated that skill before.
He may also see his infield hit rate drop in the wake of his knee injury. The 25-year-old hasn't gotten aboard via an infield hit since Aug. 25 after posting an above-average 10.2% rate before then.
Those are marginal factors, but they are the type of things that helped bolster Bichette's excellent first half. From here on out a 132 wRC+ might be too much to expect, but there's reason to believe the shortstop can become a driving offensive force for the Blue Jays down the stretch.
Not only was his performance on Tuesday a promising omen, Bichette's underlying numbers have also been strong since returning from the IL — even if his production hasn't followed.
His average exit velocity (90.7 mph) has bested his season-long number (90.3 mph) and his barrel rate (16.1%) and hard-hit rate (58.1%) have both been excellent.
That's resulted in expected numbers that are ticking up.
Bichette has been the Blue Jays' best player for much of the season, and he appears poised to re-assume that mantle.
As good a story as the Buffalo Boys have been, Toronto needs its stars to give star-level performances to lock down a playoff spot. Bichette gave his team one of those on Tuesday, and if he keeps driving the ball to all fields, there should be more of them to come in the season's final chapter.