Teoscar Hernandez- Credit: DaveMe Images

Hernandez: A Toronto Blue Jays 2021 Report Card

Teoscar Hernandez was integral to the success of the 2021 Toronto Blue Jays. Despite missing 22 days due to a positive COVID-19 test result, Hernandez posted some of the best numbers of his career. Let’s prepare a 2021 Report Card for Hernandez.


Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


 

 

Jays From the Couch will publish report cards this offseason for a selection of Toronto Blue Jays. This account concerns the play of Teoscar Hernandez in three areas: batting, defence and base running.

 

Please note that the 2021 data pertains to position players with a minimum of 100 plate appearances (463 players). The 2020 data covers position players with a minimum of 50 plate appearances (414 players). Unless otherwise indicated, FanGraphs is the source of the data.

 

Batting

Positive performance measures

  • Hernandez’s K% declined from 30.4% in 2020 to 24.9% in 2021. In relative terms, 2021’s K% was 40th percentile; it was 18th percentile in 2020.
  • His 2021 wRC+ was 132, which is 90th percentile and comparable to 2020’s relative ranking (89th).
  • Hernandez’s percentile ranking in OPS (91st) and xOPS (92nd) illustrates that his batting success was not due to good fortune. His posted OPS result matched what was expected (xOPS).
  • Plate discipline was an area of improvement. His mPDI, a measure of plate discipline, was 0.649 in 2020 (14th percentile) but rose to 0.704 in 2020 (67th percentile).
  • The primary reason why Hernandez’s mPDI improved was because he swung at pitches in the strike zone at a higher rate than he did in 2020. His in-zone swing rate was 89th percentile; in 2020, it was 26th.

 

Negative performance measures

  • Hernandez appears to be averse to taking walks. His BB% declined from 6.8% (30th percentile) in 2020 to 6.1% (22nd percentile) in 2021. Despite a reduction in K%, Hernandez was bellow-median in BB%-K% (40th percentile).
  • His out-of-zone swing rate is higher than the median (30th percentile in 2021 and 2020).

 

Areas for improvement

Hernandez’s out-of-zone swing rate is relatively high. By comparison, Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s mPDI was 92nd percentile in 2021, largely the result of better discipline at not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone (69th percentile). Suppose Hernandez could reduce the rate at which he swings at pitches out of the zone. In that case, he will improve his plate discipline and likely increase his BB%, which is another area for improvement.

 

Overall, Hernandez has become one of MLB’s best hitters. After returning to the Jays on June 5, 2019, from his demotion to Buffalo, he has generated a 132 wRC+, which is 92nd percentile. Teo can hit.

Defence

The situation is an imagined Jeopardy segment after the 2018 MLB season.

Alex Trebek: The answer is Catch-22.

Contestant: What is the number of balls caught by Teoscar Hernandez when 100 are hit in his direction?

Alex Trebek: Correct.

 

Performance measures

In 2018, Hernandez’s forte was not defence. He posted a -8 DRS as a left fielder and a -4 DRS in right field. His OAA (Statcast) was not much better: his combined OAA was -8 in right and left field. Hernandez recorded below-average DRS and OAA scores in the field in 2019. As a centerfielder, his DRS and OAA scores were -7 and -1, respectively. His defensive results in 2020 were consistent with previous campaigns:  -4 OAA during his time in right and center field (96 attempts) and -3 DRS in right field in 325 innings. Hernandez did generate a +1 DRS in centerfield (55 innings).

 

Welcome to 2021. Hernandez has improved defensively. He produced a -2 OAA (243 attempts) as a right fielder but a +2 in left (46 chances). Overall, Hernandez had a zero OAA in 2021. Concerning DRS, he recorded scores of 0 in left (250 innings), 0 in center (7 innings) and -2 in right (881 innings). Hernandez’s OAA 2021 percentile ranking was 61st, a credit to Hernandez given his defensive record in prior years. Because I place more value in OAA than DRS, I believe that Hernandez was average defensively in 2021.

 

Areas for improvement

Hernandez has the athleticism to be better in the field. His Sprint Speed (Statcast) was in the 85th percentile in 2021; he has consistently been one of the fastest MLB players during his career. His arm is a plus, as evidenced by 2021’s +3 rARM tally (rARM is the arm component of DRS).

 

One area that continues to be a weakness is Outfielder Jump (Statcast). Hernandez’s percentile ranking in Outfielder Jump was 43rd, 37th and 49th in 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. With more work on getting better jumps and taking better routes, Hernandez can become a better outfielder.

Base Running

Performance measures

The baserunning component of fWAR is BsR, comprised of the following elements: running the bases (UBR), stealing bases (wSB) and grounding into double plays (wGDP). For a detailed explanation of BsR, please refer to FanGraphs for a description of Base Running Runs.

 

In 2020, Hernandez played in 55 games and produced the following BsR components:

  • UBR – 0.5
  • wSB – 0.6
  • wGDP – minus 0.1

 

During the 2020 campaign, Hernandez stole 6 bases in 7 attempts, an 86% success rate. The league average success rate was 75%. His negative wGDP tally was because his GDP rate was 10.5%, which was a little higher than the 9.7% MLB average. Hernandez’s BsR score was 1.0 that season, which was 80th percentile.

 

For the 2021 season, Hernandez’s BsR was 2.3, which was 85th percentile. The elements of his BsR are as follows:

  • UBR – 0.3
  • wSB – 0.2
  • wGDP – 1.8

 

Hernandez played in 149 games during the 2021 season. Although Hernandez stole more bases in 2021 than in 2020 (12 versus 6), he was unsuccessful 4 times. That 75% success rate was below the MLB average of 76%. This reduced success rate is why Hernandez’s wSB was lower in 2021 than in 2020.

 

The good news is that Hernandez grounded into double plays at a lower rate in 2021 than he did in 2020. His GDP rate was 4.1%, which is considerably lower than the 10.0% MLB average. Hernandez’s wGDP score of 1.8 reflects the GDP improvement.

 

Overall, Hernandez was an above-average baserunner (UBR and wSB) in 2021.

 

Areas for improvement

The only aspect of baserunning for Hernandez to improve upon is his stolen base success rate. He can accomplish this goal by working on better reads of pitchers. He already has the Sprint Speed to become an above-average base stealer.

Overall assessment

To quote noted baseball evaluator Frank Sinatra, it was a very good year. Dare I say that 2021 was an excellent campaign for Hernandez?  His batting was in the Top 10 percentile (wRC+). His defence improved to the extent Hernandez was average, and his baserunning was better than average. In sum, Hernandez produced a 3.9 fWAR in 2021. Now to the grade!

Grading system

JFtC constructed a grading system for this series of player report cards. It combines a standard grade system and the 2021 fWAR percentiles for position players; Table 1 below shows the grading scheme. The highlights are as follows:

  • The data set of fWARs reflects any position player with a minimum of 100 plate appearances and an fWAR that is not negative
  • An fWAR that is approximately in the top-quartile will earn a B
  • A grade of C is where roughly the median of the data set
  • Any fWAR that is in the 4th or lower percentile receives an F

 

Please note that Shohei Ohtani’s fWAR of 8.1 is the sum of his pitching and batting fWARs.

 

The 2021 Grade for Hernandez

Based upon the data in Table 1, Hernandez’s 3.9 fWAR should earn him a B+. However, I would bump his grade up to A- for the following reasons:

  • In terms of Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA), Hernandez was reasonably consistent in 2021. This chart illustrates his xwOBA throughout 2021 and, for comparison purposes, Guerrero’s xwOBA chart.
  • Hernandez’s improved batting and fielding since his 2019 demotion to Buffalo is a testament to the hard work that he has put into becoming a top-tier player.
  • He appears to be a positive contributor to team chemistry. As an analytics person, my view is that some people often overvalue intangibles. However, if a player is effective on the field and appears to be a good teammate, then intangibles are worth something. If a ballplayer can’t play, I don’t care if the player is Winston Churchill in cleats.

The last word

Hernandez was a key contributor to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021. His hitting was elite, his fielding was average, and his baserunning was a plus. When I consider all factors, Hernandez is deserving of an A- grade.

 

There has been much discussion in many circles concerning a contract extension for Hernandez. Some even predate the 2021 season. Indeed, the 2021 campaign did not hurt Hernandez’s case for a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. 2022 will be his age-29 season, and he has become one of MLB’s best hitters. It will be interesting to see if Hernandez and the Toronto Blue Jays can agree on a contract extension.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Bob Ritchie

Bob was a St. Louis Cardinals fan until the Blue Jays arrived on the baseball scene, although he still has a soft spot for the Cards. Similar to straddling the Greenwich Meridian, as depicted in the avatar, Bob applies sabermetrics when applicable, but his heart tells him that Lou Brock belongs in the Hall of Fame.