2B Davis Schneider
The Davis Schneider ride was fun last year. Setting numerous rookie records, both for the club and MLB as a whole, Schneider cooled off over the final weeks of the season. After hitting to a 1.420 OPS in August, that number fell drastically and he only hit .174 in September/October. Those that watched his at-bats saw a lot of bad luck over that final stretch, as a lot of his balls were hard hit and many good plays were made to take away hits.
This bad luck was reflected in his peripherals, which were ridiculous in his small sample size. Schneider was a barrel king and had an xwOBA of .355 over his 35 big league games. This high barrel rate and exceptionally disciplined approach bodes well for a team looking for more pop.
While some of the questions lie on how real Schneider’s production was and how much of a threat he’ll be over a full big league season, there’s also the question of how much playing time will be available?
After the signing of Justin Turner, who’ll be mostly DHing while seeing time throughout the infield occasionally, Schneider could be in line to get the majority of starts at second base. ZiPS likes Schneider’s skillset, and it’s reflected in their projections. They project a 3.1 fWAR and a 112 wRC+ from the rookie infielder, respectable numbers for a guy who barely played a full month in MLB.
Fans want to see more of the ‘Babe’, and rightfully so. For a lineup looking for more power, Schneider’s constant presence and production in the lineup seems like a necessity.
INF Ernie Clement
Ernie Clement was a pleasant surprise for the Blue Jays organization last year. Having never posted an OPS higher than .732 in the minors, Clement exploded in Buffalo to the tune of a .348/.401/.544 slash line under hitting coach Matt Hague. This translated into a solid showing over 29 games with the Blue Jays, where he hit .380 and played admirable defence at short, second and third.
Clement enters 2024 without a clear role, and may be on the outside looking in. Projections don’t love Ernie, forecasting only a 93 wRC+. Clement doesn’t make much consistently hard contact, while having poor metrics related to barrel rate and hard hit percentage. That being said, he rarely whiffs, making contact with most pitches he swings and putting pressure on opposing defences with his above average speed.
Clement seemed to endear himself to fans, appearing as a grinder and a good teammate whilst boasting respectable numbers. He’s out of options, so the Blue Jays would likely lose him on waivers should he not make the team out of camp. However, given his offensive strides and skillset of an effective backup infielder, some would say Clement has earned a spot on this roster. It remains to be seen how this infield shapes up, as Clement is one of the pieces in this current logjam of major league infield talent.