Most of the Toronto Blue Jays talks lately has been around the Trade Deadline and about who the club had added, as well as who they did not receive.
Prior to the deadline chatter, it was also about the emergence of Matt Chapman and before that it was Alek Manoah’s All-Star appearance and his Cy Young caliber start to the season. All of these discussions are worthy to talk about, but one player that has gone near under the radar is two-time defending Silver Slugger winner Teoscar Hernandez.
After breaking out during the 2020 Covid shortened season that saw him win his first Silver Slugger Award, Hernandez followed that up in 2021 with his second Silver Slugger, as well as being selected to represent the Blue Jays in the All-Star Game. Although 2020 was the first time he won the award, 2021 was truly his break out season that saw him reach the 30+ home run and 100+ RBI mark for the first time, and now quietly, he is on pace to repeat that in 2022.
If he is having such a strong season, why has Hernandez not got a lot of recognition throughout the year? You can date it back to the first week of the season when he started the year 6 for 16 (.375) and had an OPS of 1.125 through his first five games. In game six of the season, Hernandez was 0 for 3 when he was taken out of the game with an oblique injury that caused him to miss three and a half weeks.
After healing from the injury, Hernandez would have a four-game rehab assignment with the Dunedin Blue Jays at Single-A where in 11 at bats he would collect five hits, with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs. Unfortunately, the 29-year old Dominican Republic native had a hard time replicating that once he rejoined his teammates in Toronto. Through his first 14 games after he returned to the line-up, Hernandez had a slash line of just .091/.123/.164 over 57 plate appearances where he struck out 17 times and mustered just five hits. However, in game 15, Hernandez went 1 for 5, which isn’t pretty, but it was the start of a nine-game hitting streak and a stretch that saw him collect hits in 18 of his next 19 games.
Since May 24, Hernandez has just once gone three straight games without a hit and on only two other occasions has he gone more than one game without a hit. Prior to turning things around on that day, Hernandez had a slash line of .149/.213/.257 on the season over 20 games that saw him have just four extra base hits (two home runs).
In the 61 games he has played in since, Hernandez has 73 hits, which 33 have been for extra bases and he is posting a slash line of .311/.357/.575 with an OPS of .932. At the time of writing he is on a five game hitting streak (6 for 19) with four extra base hits (three home runs).
Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez has bounced back from injury and a slow start to the season to contend for his third straight Silver Slugger Award.
Despite the slow start to the season, Hernandez still sits fifth among American League outfielders in OPS (.820) and his .932 since May 24 would have him third in the American League behind Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. Also, among outfielders he is currently seventh in doubles, ninth in home runs, seventh in RBI.
Needless to say, despite the injury and the delay in getting back to his usual self, Teoscar Hernandez has put himself in contention to get his third straight Silver Slugger Award.