So, within the Blue Jays club, how do they digest this zero-sum game? What can we get out of it? Aside from Tellez’s right to throw a little joke at the expense of his teammates, of course.
“Oh yeah, a little. While having fun, ”says Tellez. “But I think it makes everyone better. When I go out against launchers, I want to know how they got me out. I ask these questions. And vice versa. When you put on a good swing, they want to know, “What was it like?” What was the reason? How did you stay on it?
“I improve them and they improve me because they tell me what I am doing wrong and I help them when they are not throwing. It’s just that everyone is a good teammate. ”
This camaraderie is demonstrated in several ways this week, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crosses the diamond to pick up the first base and, presumably, eat in Tellez’s playing time. There will be a steep learning curve for Guerrero Jr. as he takes on a position he has never played before, which makes helping those with experience – like Tellez – crucial. his progress.
There is footwork to practice, situations to learn and readings to do. Such can and will help Guerrero Jr. get through this. But he will do it in the service of a teammate playing his position.
We imagine that it would be a little embarrassing. But Tellez says it’s just the opposite.
“I don’t think it changes anything in the way of our team. I think having him there is as beneficial as him in third place – I think we just want as many bats as we can have in the lineup, “said Tellez. “Being right-handed, me left-handed – that sort of plays into this peloton situation. But I think having all of us in the programming is going to be beneficial. We are just here to win. ”
That said, the Blue Jays are unlikely to lead a tight pack at first, as Guerrero Jr.’s bat should be in alignment as often as possible. This creates an interesting dilemma, as it is assumed that manager Charlie Montoyo would like to keep his designated hitting position open more often than not in order to exploit the matches or get certain players per day.
Conventional wisdom might suggest that you regularly sit Tellez against left-handed pitchers, but he demonstrated in a small, seemingly 126-plate sample last season that he wasn’t necessarily outdone against left-handers. Tellez reached .270 / .317 / .513 in this exposure to left-handers, setting up a 113 OPS +.
Still, 15 of his 21 circuits last season encountered a right-handed pitch and his 2018 minor league divisions – .839 OPS against right-handers, .659 OPS against left-handers – are more like what you would expect from a batter of his profile. But that should not take away from the results he produced last season.
Tellez says the recent success has come from a slight adjustment in approach, as he began to focus on sites rather than chasing particular sites. This is similar to the adjustment Justin Smoak made before his late career breakout in 2017.
“It’s not about going out and hunting, but chasing a place and waiting for it to end there,” said Tellez. “I know that in 2017, I had a hard time with it. In 2018, when I was called, I struggled with the left on the left. But I focused on it during the off season and now I really want to let it play. ”
Which brings us back to the question of how often Tellez will play with Guerrero Jr., now a first baseman. Probably not as much as he would like.
But Montoyo is famous for using all the players on his list as often as possible, rarely leaving players with too many consecutive days off. Tellez will be in the programming. And if he continues to strike as he did early in the camp, Montoyo will not be able to withdraw it.
Of course, Tellez always hit the ball hard when it made contact – he was an 80th percentile exit speed hitter in 2019 – which is a reliable way to get good results on the balls in play. was the number of contacts, as Tellez fluctuated and missed its path to a rate of 31.3% in 2019.
It is possible to be a productive big league hitter while often lacking grounds. Bryce Harper’s odor rate in 2019 was 34%; Javy Baez was 35.7. But you usually have to pair it with a secondary attribute in addition to the hard-hit rate – Harper regularly fights for the head of the league in the marches, while Baez is one of the best in the game to make adjustments in the number two shots – to get away with it.
Tellez has not been able to do this at this point in his career, but it is important to remember the progress players can make until their late 20s if they continue to work for improvement. . Smoak’s escape during his 30-year season is a fitting example, as he went from a part-time platoon bat to a star through some of the same approach adjustments that Tellez strives for to do.
This is how he spent the last few months supporting the closure of MLB with his sister, Amy, in their father Greg’s house in Sacramento, California. trainer’s house nearby, where he had access to all the equipment he needed.
So far, the results are evident. It is now up to Tellez to continue this production, while helping Guerrero Jr. find his feet at the start. If these two things happen, everyone wins. Including the team.
“He’s a great teammate to start with. So he’s not too worried about things, playing time, all that, “said Tellez of Guerrero Jr.” He just wants everyone to be happy, everyone to be at their best .
“It’s a different position. Different types of footwork around the bag, different types of things you don’t do at the third base. So all I can say is that it was great. he works hard there. And I’m glad he does this kind of work and asks the right questions. “