It was quite a turnaround.
In March, the 25-year-old first baseman was fully in the roster bubble after cutting .227 / .293 / .449 last season.
With 21 home runs in 111 games, power was there for Tellez, but batting villains and chasing bad shots were all too often the norm for the big left-handed hitter.
Adjustments to the approach were needed and director Charlie Montoyo publicly made no secrets about it whenever Tellez got into a fight.
But over the winter, Tellez reworked his swing, dropping a hitch in changing the way he loads his hands, and the results were noticeable two-thirds of the way through that 60-game sprint.
Fewer foul pitches and a lot more barrels on baseball have been the byproduct, with Tellez’s contact rate significantly increasing this season from 70.5% last year to 78.1% in the first 41. Jays matches.
Due to more contacts, Tellez’s withdrawal rate fell 12%, from 28.4% last year to 16.1%.
Combine that with the undamaged power and walking speed jump, and it’s no surprise that Tellez has been one of the most important hitters in Montoyo’s lineup for the past three weeks, slicing .360 / .410 / .693 with seven at home. runs and 18 RBIs in his last 83 appearances on the board.
Confidence is hard to quantify, but that’s been it for Tellez, and his work with typing assistant Dante Bichette has been key to it.
“Mentally just trust me, really,” Tellez said of his conversations with the 56-year-old former Colorado Rockies slugger. “Understand how good I am a player. Realizing that I don’t have to try to be better than anyone else, just stay with me. So, honestly, it’s just understanding who I am and what I can do and what I’m capable of and not trying to fit into someone else’s mold. That’s really what we talked about, it was just having that belief again like I did when I was younger and I think it really was a game-changer for me – knowing that I can do anything what i want and be more mature as each day continues. ”
Since joining the big leagues at the end of the 2018 season, Tellez has proven to be a streak player.
When it is hot, it burns.
When he’s cold, it’s worth demoting.
It leaves many wondering if the new and improved Tellez is real, but there are those within the Jays organization who believe it is taking a step forward.
As motivation, they also started comparing him to David Ortiz, another cold and late corner hitter.
“If Rowdy can figure it out, I still think he’s the Big Papi of the Blue Jays,” said Bichette. “It can be that. In batting practice, he can literally do whatever he wants with the bat. He can take an interior court and hit it the other way. It can hit all terrains. His strength is almost his downfall as he tries to deal with everything. Plate discipline has to come but I think it will come with confidence for him.
“There’s a lot of work to be done out there, but, man, the good side of this kid when all is said and done could be the difference for a big club.
In addition to hitting brittle balls better this year, another big step for Tellez has been his two-strike job.
A career .148 hitter with two hitting, that number currently sits at a .265 well above the league average.
“Double-hitting is just not trying to hit the ball out of the park with every stroke,” Tellez said. “Now it’s just trusting me, being a good hitter, using all the court. Everything can happen. You can make contact on anything. Funky jumps through the infield, bleeds, jams, finds barrels. Anything can happen if you cut it down and just trust yourself.
With a roster full of right-handed bats in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, Tellez’s power on the left provides an important component when he’s doing well.
Individually it’s been about as good two months as Tellez could have asked for, but as a team it’s been even better.
“I’ve always been a competitor,” Tellez said. “I always wanted to be better than everyone else. I’ve always wanted to beat people. You can tell in the way I do, you can tell in the way I speak, the way I act. I’m just happy that we are in this playoff race and have this great group of players who really want the same thing. We don’t have an ego, and that’s the most important part.