At the onset of spring training in 2019, it was uncertain whether or not Rowdy Tellez would crack the opening day roster for the Toronto Blue Jays. He made the team at the eleventh hour due to the Kendrys Morales Oakland trade, and he hasn’t looked back since.
In his first 110 at-bats in 2019 Rowdy Tellez is hitting .245 with six home runs and 18 runs batted in. Not staggering numbers by any means, but they are very serviceable for a second-year rookie first baseman. Rowdy looks to be a lock on the Blue Jays roster for the immediate future and he has even done well lately hitting against lefties, something he struggled with at times in the past.
Rowdy Tellez counterpart at first base Justin Smoak is off to a slower start offensively in 2019. Smoak is hitting .239 with five home runs and 19 RBI’s. While those numbers would be good for a rookie like Tellez, they are below career norms for Justin Smoak.
The good news is that Justin is drawing more walks, having been issued 26 already in 2019. That’s above career averages for him and that has helped increase his on-base percentage. The numbers seem to show that pitchers are giving Justin Smoak less to hit this season, and might be pitching around the Blue Jays’ bomber more often than past seasons.
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When you compare Rowdy Tellez’s numbers side by side to Justin Smoak’s, it shows two very similar players offensively so far:
Rowdy Tellez- 110 AB, 14 runs, 27 hits, 6 HR, 18 RBI, .245 BA . 306 OBP, .455 SLG, 40 K, 8 walks
Justin Smoak- 117 AB- 18 runs, 28 hits, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .239 BA, .384 OBP, .410 SLG, 30 K, 26 walks
You will notice that Justin Smoak is getting way more walks, and is striking out less than Tellez. Those are the things that you get with experience. Outside of that, the two players match up well in 2019 with comparable home runs, RBI, and batting average.
With Justin Smoak starting off a little slower offensively this season, it could be a while longer that we get to compare the two Blue Jays first baseman. Ross Atkins probably wants to move the veteran Justin Smoak at some point this season, but surely his bat will have to heat up a bit more for him to garner serious interest from other teams.
As for Rowdy Tellez, he can only benefit from the trade of Justin Smoak this season. He has shown that he likely has what it takes to be the Blue Jays everyday first baseman for the foreseeable future, and can handle the job now. However, even if Smoak is not traded in the short-term, Tellez has earned himself lots of playing opportunity for the immediate future.