Teoscar Hernandez is a player who has often taunted us with his upside and potential, though the results don’t always necessarily match it. Last season was no different, as he got significant time in the Majors and showed signs that could cause excitement heading into 2019:
.239 (114-476), 22 HR, 57 RBI, 67 R, 5 SB
Obviously the selling point would be the power, having also added 29 doubles and 7 triples while posting a solid 37.3% Hard%. The question is going to be whether or not he can make enough contact to be able to tap into it. A 31.2% strikeout rate, courtesy of a 17.8% SwStr%, is a red flag that can’t be ignored. The fact that his struggles came against all types of pitches just makes it that much worse (Whiff%):
- Hard – 16.54%
- Breaking Balls – 21.48%
- Offspeed – 25.85%
As it is he saw only 57.61% hard pitches, but there may be no reason for opposing pitchers to avoid throwing them to him. It’s not like he’s making significant contact against them either…
That said the bulk of his power came against fourseam fastballs (10 HR), sinkers (3 HR) and cut-fastballs (2 HR). That’s 15 of his 22 long balls, and he also added 14 doubles and 5 triples against them. That’s not to say that he’s void of power against other pitches (SLG of .524 against curveballs and .440 against sliders), but as you would expect it simply isn’t as prevalent.
Interestingly, entering 2017 it was his speed not his power that was seen as his strongest skill. As Prospect 361 noted:
“Hernandez’s carrying tool is his double-plus speed that allowed him to average well above 30 stolen bases the last three years in the minor leagues. He has good bat speed and enough raw power to dream on 15 home runs once he fills out. His approach at the plate, which had been holding him back, has taken a step up.”
That doesn’t seem to be the player we saw last season, and maybe it’s that he’s selling out for more power. After all, with the swing and misses and a 43.7% fly ball rate it would make sense. Ultimately that could cost him, as it’s easy to envision a more productive player if he was focused on making contact and utilizing his speed.
Will he make an adjustment? It’s possible, though a 47.4% fly ball rate in the second half doesn’t indicate it. We’ll have to monitor him closely, but unless he matures/adjusts he ultimately isn’t going to live up to the hype.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Prospect 361