Rowdy Tellez
Rowdy Tellez is an unheralded name in baseball but he could be a potential X-Factor for a Blue Jays team that’s ready to win now. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Rowdy Tellez Is The Blue Jays X-Factor

The Blue Jays are scary, young, and coming. Toronto has one of the most exciting young cores in baseball with Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. One THIC slugger, Rowdy Tellez is often forgotten about when talking about the Blue Jays… but maybe he shouldn’t be? Tellez has a chance to be a breakout candidate in 2021 and could push Toronto towards an AL East Crown.

Players like Rowdy Tellez are a dying breed in baseball. Tellez, 26, is a 6-foot-4, 255 pound lumbering first baseman. Let’s be honest, he’s more of a freight train power hitting DH. On the surface, Tellez appears to be a dinosaur, but that’s an antiquated take. Don’t judge this book by it’s cover!

In a game where the home run and strike out is king, Tellez specializes in limiting his K rate. In 2020, the Blue Jays slugger ranked in the 83rd percentile in K% and the 63rd percentile in Whiff%. Tellez is far just from an all or nothing player. His bad moments are few and far between from the normal every day power hitter.

Tellez took huge strides in 2020 completely changing his body and working with Dante Bichette (Bo’s father). Tellez was able to slow the game down and work on limiting those strikeouts. It can’t be understated how much these young players are able to feed off one another. That’s what creates a dangerous lineup.

Tellez had the biggest decrease in his strikeout percentage from 2019 to 2020. Cutting that mark by -12.7% from 28.4% to 15.7%. Is it real? Who knows. The only thing that is clear is that Tellez is recognizing pitches at a much better rate which is scary for a man his size.

In his third MLB season, Tellez posted a batting line of .283/.346/.540 with an OPS of .886 and 8 home runs. Is that kind of production sustainable during a 162 game season? Better yet, can he actually take another step forward? When is the last time we had a lumbering first baseman hit over .300 with power while refusing to strike out? More like Rowdy Unicorn?

Tellez has been an analytical darling when it comes to the barrel percentage numbers. Even in 2019 in a worse season, Tellez notched a barreled of 13.2% which ranked inside the top 10 of the sport. We sort of knew this breakout is coming.

When it comes to exit velocity, this time you can judge the book by it’s cover. Yes, the ball jumps off this big boy’s bat. Over the past two seasons, the left handed Tellez is just one of five players with a home run hit at 117 mph or more. The California native ranked in the 79th percentile in exit velocity and the 81st percentile in hard hit percentage in 2020. The ball JUMPS.

You can see by Tellez’s swing, he’s a large mountain man, but he’s very much in control. It’s a much less aggressive swing than you anticipate just looking at him. He’s patient up there and is more than happy to take his walks.

Tellez struggles a bit to catch things on the outer corners of the zone but that’s to be expected with a left handed power hitter. Tellez had a a 40% K rate on each of the outer corners of the zone a year ago. Anything to the pull side can be crushed on any given pitch.

However, I think it’s important to note that Tellez got on base regardless. He’s not just a pull happy left handed hitter which needs to be noted. Tellez’s wOBA against the shift last year was .401. He was actually better when the defense shifted him. Tellez has shown he can make the adjustment and will take balls the other way when necessary.

Another thing that needs to be noted with Tellez is that while he’s patient at the dish, he will attack the first pitch meatball. Tellez increased his first pitch swing percentage 9.9% in 2020 and started swinging at a significantly higher percentage of pitches in the zone. That’s a hitter that knows his pitch and is on attack mode from jump street. Tellez hit .313 during the first pitch of an at-bat.

The casual baseball fan doesn’t know who Rowdy Tellez is but maybe you should. Another step forward from him could be the difference in Toronto winning the AL East or not. Adding a unicorn mega bat like this in a young Jays lineup is a scary proposition.

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