Toronto Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernandez has been the best player you haven’t noticed in 2020.
Before 2020, Hernandez was a serviceable platoon righty who you could dream on with his tantalizing combination of power and speed. So far in 2020, Hernandez is being the player the Blue Jays dreamed of.
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This year, even in a small sample, Hernandez is having the best year of his career by far. Through 27 games and 110 plate appearances, Hernandez is slashing .294/.336/.637 and already totaled 1.1 fWAR. For context, Hernandez’s best season by fWAR was last year when he needed 464 plate appearances just to get to 1.2 fWAR.
The Hernandez breakthrough has been carried by his bat and monster offensive numbers. Hernandez is currently sporting a 158 wRC+ good for 20th in all of baseball. His 10 long balls have him tied for fifth in the league with Luke Voit and some guy named Mike Trout.
As mentioned, Hernandez was a solid bat against LHPs, as his 2019 wRC+ against lefties was a solid 117 compared to only 94 against RHPs. This year he has taken huge steps forward against both pitchers with a 175 wRC+ against LHPs and a still scorching 151 against RHPs.
This isn’t the case of luck however, as Hernandez boasts one of the top exit velocities in all of baseball. Hernandez currently has an EV of 95 MPH which is only bested by Miguel Sano, Gregory Polanco, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Juan Soto.
As you can imagine, all of Hernandez’s expected statistics, xBA, xSLG, or xwOBA, are near the very top of the league. Another underrated part of Hernandez’s offense is his speed which allows him to leg out extra-base hits and put pressure on infielders. He can absolutely fly with a speed rating in the 86th percentile and a top 55 runner in all of baseball.
So how did all of it come together for Hernandez in 2020? Obviously the hitting the ball harder than everyone helps significantly. For the first time in Hernandez’s career, however, he is simultaneously hitting the ball with authority and at a more optimal launch angle. Hernandez’s launch 2020 launch angle is 19.3° up from 15.3 last season. In 2017, Hernandez had a launch angle of 20.6°, however, his EV was 8 MPH slower than it is today.
There are two other catalysts powering Hernandez’s offensive renaissance. Hernandez has reduced his Popup% down to 5.9%. That is below the league average of 7.1 and well below Hernandez’s 2019 mark of 8.7%. Instead of harmless fly balls that are guaranteed outs, fielders are now having to deal with missile after missile.
The other is that Hernandez has geared his approach to the middle of the field. Hernandez’s Pull% has dropped 8% to 40% while his Cent% has increased to 40%. The Cent% represents a 10% change form his 2019 mark. With how hard he hits the ball, Hernandez can do damage to any field. This newfound approach is one of the keys to Hernandez’s newfound success.
Teoscar Hernandez is one of the best hitters in baseball right now. As the season progresses and samples continue to grow, he will likely face some sort of regression. That being said there is enough in Hernandez’s profile to believe he has taken a permanent step forward.
Teoscar Hernandez hits the ball incredibly hard and has changed his approach that has taken him from 4th outfielder to a really good player. Hernandez is controlled for multiple years after this one, making him a potential lineup fixture on the Toronto Blue Jays with Vladito and Bo Bichette for years to come.