TAMPA, Fla. — Two years in the past, Teoscar Hernández appeared like one other outfielder who couldn’t put his instruments collectively.
Via the primary 39 video games of the 2019 season, Hernández was hitting .189 and, because the Blue Jays have been ramping up their rebuild round their younger core, it appeared like he’d be misplaced within the shuffle totally.
The Blue Jays demoted Hernández to Triple-A Buffalo, the place one thing modified.
Hernández returned with a brand new plan on the plate, which is a simple first step, however the 28-year-old has been capable of maintain that and develop it into an engrained routine. Again within the huge leagues later that season, Hernandez launched 23 residence runs with an .873 OPS over his remaining 86 video games, and he carried that proper into his breakout 2020, when he posted a .919 OPS and received his first Silver Slugger Award.
A left indirect pressure landed Hernández on the IL in September, however simply previous to that damage, the slugger felt he was about to take the subsequent step.
“My at-bats have been completely different,” Hernández stated. “I used to be feeling like I used to be on each pitch. I used to be seeing the ball higher than ever.”
A profession resurrection like that is by no means easy, however on the core of all of it for Hernández is somewhat added persistence.
“Earlier than, I swung so much. Final 12 months, my swing was nonetheless sizzling, however I took a variety of pitches,” Hernández defined. “That was a change. I used to be placing a variety of effort into making an attempt to take extra pitches than I often take and making an attempt to search for one spot within the strike zone, then attempt to stick with it. I believe that was the change that made me higher.”
Hernández swung at far fewer first pitches in 2020, but it surely’s essential to be extra exact than that to know his breakout season. Hernández additionally swung at fewer pitches within the strike zone in 2020, together with his 62.9 p.c Zone Swing % down from 72.3 p.c in ’19 and 72.1 p.c in ’18.
This appears counterintuitive to a giant season on the plate, however Hernández was now not simply searching for strikes. He was searching for his pitch in his spot in his rely, and never stretching outdoors his consolation zone for the rest.
Hernández already had the bodily instruments he wanted. He’s the most effective athletes on the Blue Jays’ roster, usually placing on a present in batting follow together with his uncooked energy, and can be one of many quickest gamers within the group. The important thing to this subsequent step, then, was psychological.
“I by no means realized the issues that I had. My abilities,” Hernández stated, “I by no means trusted them. I had some individuals who helped me in considering that I’m a superb participant and I’ve a variety of abilities. I simply didn’t notice it, at that time, that I might do the entire issues I did final 12 months. [Hitting coach] Guillermo [Martinez] helped me so much. Dante [Bichette] helped me so much. For me, now, the whole lot is about belief.”
In 2021, there’s no secret to be unlocked for Hernández. He is aware of who he’s as a participant, and even because the Blue Jays juggle an advanced outfield image with 4 gamers and three spots, the suitable fielder isn’t frightened about taking part in time points.
He should not be. This can be a bat able to main one in all baseball’s greatest lineups in residence runs and OPS.
The DH spot is a possible resolution to this logjam for the Blue Jays, however that’s a distinct dialog relying on every participant. From the surface wanting in, it’d appear like a DH has a simple job, however that’s miles from the reality. Staying bodily and mentally engaged with out taking part in protection is a major problem, so that you’ll typically see veteran DHs taking swings within the tunnel or operating sprints to maintain their physique engaged.
Throughout Hernández’s profession, there’s not a lot of a pattern measurement to work with at DH. He’s taken 48 at-bats as a DH and hit .188 with a .674 OPS.
“Actually, I don’t prefer it, however if so and I’m going to hit so much as a DH, I’ve to determine it out and attempt to produce for my crew and for myself,” Hernández stated.
That creates a brand new problem inside this outfield image, as having Randal Grichuk in proper discipline provides the Blue Jays their greatest defensive outfield. No matter what this Blue Jays lineup seems to be like, although, Hernández’s bat must be in it. We’re a great distance from 2019.