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The season that was: Rowdy Tellez

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
How come it is always the one that got away that is that big?
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The last few years have been up and down for Rowdy.

  • He had a great 2016, hitting .297/.387/.530 in New Hampshire, which moved him up near the top of our prospect list. We had him at #5 coming into the 2017 season (Richard Urena was number 4, I can’t get them all right).
  • 2017 wasn’t great on the minor league front. Rowdy hit .222/.295/.333 in Buffalo.
  • 2018 had a personal tragedy; his mother died from brain cancer. Understandably, he didn’t have terrific stats in Buffalo, but then he became a fan favorite with a super run after a September call up, hitting .314/.329/.614 in 23 games.
  • Which bought him a major league job coming out of spring training in 2019. He got off to an excellent start, but mid-July saw a demotion to Buffalo.

So, we had no idea what we’d 2020 would bring us (in so many ways). There were whispers about how Rowdy wasn’t very coachable, and maybe personality issues (the nice part about being a blogger is that I can stay far enough from the team that personalities don’t cloud the view as much).

In the end, it turned out to be an excellent season.

Standard Batting
35 127 113 20 32 5 0 8 23 0 1 11 20 .283 .346 .540 .886 139
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/29/2020.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.5 WAR. FanGraphs 0.4.

Rowdy’s walk rate was 8.7% (up from 7.1 last year) and strikeout rate was 15.7% (way down from 28.4).

His line drive rate was 20.0% (down from 23.7), ground ball rate 46.3% (up from 38.5) and fly ball rate 33.7% ( down from 37.7). His fly balls were leaving the park 25.0% of the time (up from 21.6).

His hard contact rate was down 37.9 (from 41.6) and soft contact rate was up 20.0% (from 15.6%).

His BABIP was .276 (up from .267).

Tellez hit left-handers (.333/.367/.444) and right-handers (..267/.340/.570). Less power vs. southpaws, but then better batting average. I

He hit massively better at home (.348/.375/.761) than on the road (.239/.329/.444).

With runners in scoring position he hit .321/.400/.464.

Tellez by month:

  • July: .182/.240/.318/ with 1 home run in 6 games.
  • August: .267/.333/.583 with 5 home runs in 20 games.
  • September: .387/.444/.613 with 2 home runs in 9 games.

We all remember the injury suffered running over one of the ‘bullpen’ mounds along the right-field line, just when he was really hot with the bat.

Defense? FanGraphs has him at a 3.1 UZR/150. I’m not a big fan of UZR for first basemen, but since we were comparing him to Vlad, he looked terrific out there. I don’t think he’s one that is going to look graceful, but he seems to be making himself a solid defensive first baseman.

FanGraphs has him at -2.3 runs on the basepaths.

In games he started Rowdy hit:

  • 3rd: 7 times.
  • 4th: 4 times.
  • 5th: 8 times.
  • 6th: 5 times.
  • 7th: 1 time.
  • 8th: 4 times.

The Blue Jays were 16-13 in games he started.

Nothing ever goes easy for Rowdy. He didn’t have a great start to the season. Then we traded for Daniel Vogelbach. Many of us took as a sign that Tellez was about to be moved on to another team. Vogelbach received all of 5 PA before being DFAed (he would hit .328/.418/.569 with the Brewers, numbers that would have looked pretty good if they had come while Rowdy was on the IL).

Then Rowdy got hot, and we had hopes he could carry us into the playoffs and give us some offense when we got there. But the stupid mounds in foul territory ended that hope. He had one at-bat in the playoffs, getting a single.

I have the question in my mind: Do 35 games mean he has a spot with the Jays going forward, or does he still have to continue to prove himself. A strong spring training (presuming we get spring training next year) would go a long way to putting a lock on a spot in the everyday lineup.

With his home/road splits, there is a worry that the season was a Buffalo mirage. Last year he hit much better on the road than at Rogers Centre. But, for all I know, the Jays might be playing some portion of the season in Buffalo again.

I wonder if watching Vlad’s work to get into better shape has spurred Tellez to up his fitness. You would think he’d be going a little harder at it.Rowdy turns 26 in March, just about to come into his prime. A good season would set him up for a promising MLB career, a poor season, and the team might look elsewhere for the big left-handed bat.

I know it doesn’t matter, and it is silly to think about, but when I see a guy with 1 steal in his first few seasons, I start to wonder what the over/under is for career stolen bases. If the number was 5, would you take the over or under?


For his 2020 season I would grade Rowdy Tellez a

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  • 9%
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    (10 votes)
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    (4 votes)
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454 votes total Vote Now