Breaking the difficult start of Tuscar Hernandez for the Blue Jays until the 2022 season

Breaking the difficult start of Tuscar Hernandez for the Blue Jays until the 2022 season

TORONTO – Over 802 board appearances between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Teoscar Hernandez hit .295/.345/.538 with 48 homers, good for the 134 wRC+ who ranked 15th among eligible MLB hitters. It recorded a rate of 96 percent hit hard in 2020; Max exit velocity 96 percent in 2021. He was an all-star, back-to-back Silver Ball winner, one of the most productive hitters in the game.

During his first 96 games in 2022, Hernandez was…not that. It hits .170/.240/.261 with only two house brows. His difficult connection was broken. His globe rate has risen. 45 in WRC+ ranks 272 out of 279 MLB players to have made at least 90 appearances for the board so far this season. Since returning from a three-week Illinois assignment due to a skewed strain in mid-April, Hernandez has been 9 for 69 — seven of them singles — with a strike rate of 27.4 percent.

We’ve seen Hernandez fall down before, but only once has he fallen like that. It was early 2019 when he hit a miserable .189/ .262/ .299 debut on the 141 boards, dropping the minor league standings. Hernandez is back from that stint on a triple-header, a reformed batsman, and has kept the wOBA rolling over water most of the time over the two-and-a-half seasons since. Until now.

so what happened? Well, this tilt injury is the likely culprit. Hernandez was only out of competition for 19 days, and upon his return, requested an extra tuning game at the end of a three-day rehab job that was scheduled to last only two days.

It’s possible that Hernandez still has some residual effects from that oblique strain – he was out of the Blue Jays lineup on Sunday with what manager Charlie Montoyo described as a minor hip problem – which could threaten his ability to rotate his midsection and swing bats the way he needs to her. Only he knows for sure. But there are definitely some disturbing signs in his strength stats that he is not generating strength as he did in the past.

It’s not just that Hernandez has only two home runs during his first 96 runs to the plate. Only six of the 62 balls he’s played this season have cut more than 330 feet — an average of 9.6 percent. Last season, he hit 56 balls with a length of at least 350 feet, which is 20.3 percent of the 404 balls he played.

His average distance on all balls in play has dropped from 182 feet in 2021 to 121 feet in 2022. Therefore, he doesn’t hit balls far. It also does not hit them hard. Hernandez lost 1.5 mph of average exit speed from last season. He has yet to hit a ball stronger than 109.3 mph after overtaking him by nearly 116 for each of the past two years. This had an expected impact on the price of a barrel of oil, which is currently less than half of what it was in 2021.

It’s helpful to look at hit ball data like this when examining a tough start like Hernandez’s because it settles down fairly quickly. Hernandez’s 62 balls are in the 50-100 range, and it usually takes these process-oriented stats to become reliable. At this sample size, we simply cannot eliminate the low power of Hernandez because it is still early days.

Of course, that doesn’t make it a predictor of what he’s going to put forward either. If Hernandez becomes healthier or makes an adjustment to unlock the elite strength he previously demonstrated, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him re-achieve his previous exit velocity levels in the coming weeks. But these numbers tell us that reliably Something Hernandez’s ability to hit the ball hard has weakened up to this point in the season.

And it may not just be his health. Hernandez is treated quite differently as opponents finally come to terms with the fact that feeding geysers to a man hitting .333 with 0.638 slowdowns against fastballs over the past two seasons—the MLB average was 0.25 with .449 slug—may not be the great idea. He’s seeing fewer speedballs this season than ever before in his career; The most smashing balls too. After two and a half years of watching Hernandez steal lunch money, MLB pitchers have adapted.

Hernandez’s fastball average is in the top nine percent of MLB hitters while his ball break rate is in the top four percent. Only 14 players see a higher percentage of slick balls and slips than Hernandez, who’s hit .129/.156/.161 against slick balls this season. Across MLB, bowlers are throwing fewer fast balls than ever before, an unexpected fact in an era of 94 mph average speed ball, and against Hernandez, they’ve taken it to the extreme.

But it’s not just what the Hernandez shooters attack – it’s where they attack him. On the left is the heatmap of Hernandez from the 2020 and 2021 seasons. On the right is his heatmap for this year:

Down and away, middle and far, middle and far. Bowlers have always targeted that part of the area against Hernandez, but they’ve been attacking it more consistently this season – often with broken balls – leaving very little up and over the board. It leads to the desired results. Hernandez’s chase rates and swing hits increased 2.5 points from last season to a career high. The average globe has gone straight to the moon:

Hernandez either hits the broken balls down and away or hits them into the ground at low exit velocities. And in the age of aggressive ball shifting, it doesn’t really matter how hard you hit the ball when you put it on the turf a lot. The MLB defenses will unload this contact.

The weekend series Anaheim vs. Angels provided some telling examples. This is Hernandez’s first appearance on the board on Friday, when Chase Sellseth started him with a pair of balls broken down and away and, after the Blue Jays worked out his entire count, had him hit a ground ball on another one:

Hernandez actually got the look of one of that painting. But it’s safe to say that a 70-mph globe isn’t the kind of connection he’s looking to create. And later in that match, he made no contact at all, looking down on three pitches, the last two down and dangerous balls from Jimmy Herget:

Hernandez saw only four fastballs that night from a total of 17 pitches. During his entire weekend in Anaheim, Hernandez had 44 throws – 19 of them fast, 21 breakouts, and four breaks or changes. Most were in the area and far away. He saw little precious to strike, especially over the plate:

This is a frustrating diet to feed when you’re stagnant, but that’s also the respect Hernandez’s previous performance had and how careful he was to handle it. And there were some positive indications that he is not only well aware of the approach shooters are taking against him, but is working to counter them.

Hernandez has made solid swing decisions throughout the Angels series, swinging and losing in just five of those 44 pitches — only two of them are off the board. At the end of Sunday, he came off the bench in the seventh inning and made a six-pitch walk full of rules against Ryan Tebera, throwing these three tough pitches down and away to lead the run without swinging the bat:

Then, at nine, he’s back against Ryan Barraclough, does another deep count, and finally finds a way to do something with one of these sliders:

You can see the relief on his face. It was just a slight glow to no-man’s-land – an exit speed of 78.6mph – but Hernandez would undoubtedly take it. He was hit in the air, it was the outfield he got in trouble with, and this was his fourth single in most matches.

Perhaps these are signs that he is coming out of it. The fact that he had only started twice in the past six days might have provided the break he needed to let any lingering traces of his tilt injury subside. Maybe he needed to rest, breathe, and reset his mind to start the process of getting back to being the hitter he’s been for the past two seasons and change. Because the Hernandez we’ve seen up to this point doesn’t look much like himself.

2022-05-31 14:16:00

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