I’m not a condiment guy. Dipping fries in ketchup is fine, but I prefer gravy or clam chowder soup. Mayonnaise? Disgusting. Mustard? Repulsive. Relish? Nauseating. So, when it comes to hotdogs, I’m an au naturel kind of guy. I know, boring to most, but whatever. I don’t live for them. As for fantasy baseball, there’s a place for the boring, dependable players, but I’m all about guys that hot dog. I want home runs, ribbies, and stolen bases. One player who’s been doing a little of everything recently has been Teoscar Hernandez of the Toronto Blue Jays. As a result, his ownership percentage has spiked 48% over the past week in ESPN leagues. Does this hot dog have staying power?
Teoscar is 27 years old, 6′ 2″, 180 pounds, and bats from the right side. He signed with the Houston Astros as an international free agent back in 2011. Over his minor league career with the Astros, Teoscar had a high of 17 home runs and 33 stolen bases in a season. The batting average fluctuated from .240 to a high of .313. The walk rate was in the 7-10% range, while the strikeout rate ranged from 16% to 36%. The ISO never dipped below .130 and got to as high as .256. The plate discipline numbers did improve as time went on, culminating in an 8.1% walk rate and 15.6% strikeout rate in 2016. As a result, he got his first call up to The Show that year and produced a .230/.304/.420 slash with 4 home runs, 9.8% walk rate, and 25% strikeout rate.
In 2017, Teoscar was traded to the Blue Jays. He played 134 games during the 2018 season and clubbed 22 home runs and stole 5 bases with a 7.8% walk rate, 31.2% strikeout rate, and .239/.302/.468 slash. Last season, he played 125 games and hit 26 home runs and stole 6 bases with a 9.7% walk rate, 33% strikeout rate, and .230/.306/.472 slash. The power/speed is evident, but the low batting average and high strikeout rate are issues.
So far in 8 games this season, Teoscar has hit 4 home runs and stolen 2 bases with a 5.7% walk rate, 28.6% strikeout rate, and .313/.343.750 slash. The BABIP is .316, so he’s not getting especially lucky, but the ISO is .438. Let’s dig into the numbers to see if we can uncover anything.
The first thing that jumps out from the batted ball data on Fangraphs is that Teoscar is not pulling the ball as often (26.1% vs 42..7% career average). The oppo rate has ticked up but the center percentage has skyrocketed up to 47.8% vs a career average of 32.7%. That’s a really good sign. He’s not cheating for power, letting the ball get deep into the zone, and shows the kind of raw power that he has.
The hard hit rate is a whopping 65.2% on Fangraphs. His career average is 39.5%. Let’s head on over to Baseball Savant. Exit velocity: 97th percentile. Hard Hit: 99th percentile. xBA: 91st percentile. xSLG: 97th percentile. xwOBA: 94th percentile. LOL. Teoscar Ruth in the house! The barrel rate of 17.4% is 27th in all of baseball.
Teoscar is absolutely murdering fastballs. All four of his home runs have come off that pitch and the wOBA is .605 and exit velocity is .97.6 mph against it. The whiff rate is 27.8%. Against breaking and offspeed pitches? The wOBA plummets to under .300 and the whiff rate spikes to around 50%. Teoscar Ruth Serrano.
The swinging strike rate is 17.4% and the chase rate is 38.5%. Those numbers are good for 9th and 26th respectively. You know what, though? Many of the best sluggers in the game have elevated swinging strike rates, so it’s not the end all be all. As long as the reward is a long ball, then the risk is palatable.
With that said, maintaining the .300+ batting average for Teoscar doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario. There is just too much swing and miss to his game. The ISO is obviously going to come down as well, unless you think he is the reincarnation of Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Mark McGwire morphed into one, because those are the only players in the history of baseball to maintain a higher ISO over a full season. That doesn’t mean Teoscar won’t be useful. He’s going to hit plenty of homers, steals bases, score runs, and drive in his fair share. TRASHY TREASURE