Jays From the Couch is missing Blue Jays baseball, so we’ll preview the 2020 season for individual players. This time, Teoscar Hernandez
The Toronto Blue Jays should be opening their 2020 season today. But, the state of the world has put professional sports on the back burner. Without being insensitive to the realities of a global pandemic, JFtC is going to offer up some 2020 previews for individual players as a way to provide some Blue Jays content while we wait for the curve to flatten. To kick things off, we’ll start with Teoscar Hernandez.
Teoscar Hernandez just might be one of the more polarizing Blue Jays players right now. People either really like him, or they do not. For that reason alone he is an interesting starting point for our individual player previews. The 27 year old Dominican native came to Toronto in July of 2017 (along with Nori Aoki) for Francisco Liriano. He has one option remaining and is not eligible for arbitration until 2021, becoming a free agent in 2024.
The first thing we should probably point out is that his contract situation being what it is means that he will likely be in a Blue Jays uniform for quite a while. He’s cheap, still has an option remaining and has years of team control left, so he presents some contractual value.
Hernandez is a guy who could provide 30 home runs and 80 RBI with consistent playing time. His bat is, by far, his greatest asset. According to Baseball Savant, his 2019 season saw him rank in the 85th percentile for exit velocity and in the 71st percentile for Hard Hit %, so we know he hits the ball hard. In 2018, he was in the top 3% for Barrel %. Regardless of other metrics, we know this to be a useful attribute for any hitter.
However, his bat becomes rather streaky when it only relies on power. Ranking in just the 2nd percentile for xBA and 27th percentile for xwOBA means there is an issue getting on base. We see that when we look at a K% of 33% last year, which is up a tick from the year before. If you want to look at more common metrics, check out his 2019 slash line of .230/.306/.472. It all leaves a little to be desired. The only thing that is saving him with regard to metrics like xwOBAcon is his sprint speed, which was in the 94th percentile last season.
It is perhaps his sprint speed that has the Blue Jays thinking they can use him in CF whenever the 2020 season starts. And, maybe with some coaching that could work. However, in 2019, his defense was not stellar. In fact, he put up -5 OAA (Outs Above Average), -4 in LF and -1 in CF. Growing up, I was always led to believe that LF was the easier of the two positions, but it seems Hernandez would disagree with that. But, if the Blue Jays are going to put him in CF, they are going to need to trust in any work they did with him to improve on his -8 DRS and UZR/150 of -13.2 in CF last year.
Hernandez’ defense has become his biggest question mark, even though his bat is missing out on some consistency. This fear has led some to the conclusion that Hernandez should be the full time DH. While this suggestion is not a crazy one, we might not want to bet the farm on it.
The Toronto Blue Jays roster is moving toward many players who can play multiple positions. This type of flexibility allows for the club to keep guys healthy, rotate lineups based on matchups and to capitalize on defensive alignments. For that reason, it doesn’t make much sense to have the DH spot clogged by one player. It was part of the reason that folks were calling for Kendrys Morales to be sent packing long before he was.
So, Hernandez becomes a rather interesting member of the Blue Jays roster. What do they do with him? There is no clear cut answer. That is why it is important to remember the context of the 2020 season, not because of the unknown starting date of the season, but because this is supposed to be another building year for Toronto. They do not expect to compete, but are looking to make steps toward that goal. So, there are a number of players (likely more in the outfield) that need to step up and show their capabilities in order to figure into the club’s future plans. Hernandez does fit in there somewhere, but exactly where is not clear.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.