The Toronto Blue Jays have fielded one of baseball’s worst offenses so far this season. Toronto entered Thursday night’s contest against the Boston Red Sox ranked 28th in the majors in runs scored. (They ranked 27th in adjusted weighted runs created.) The Jays haven’t had many bright spots — indeed, it feels like they’ve been a consistent threat to be no-hit — but they have had a few bright moments, and perhaps none has been more welcome than first baseman-slash-DH Rowdy Tellez.
In Tellez’ first 10 games, he hit .200/.355/.440 with two home runs (121 OPS+). Dating back to last season, he’s posted a 146 OPS+ across his first 104 big-league plate appearances. The Blue Jays seemed to like him (and saving money) enough to trade Kendrys Morales on the eve of the regular season in order to free up the DH position.
Tellez continued to reward them for that decision on Thursday, hitting this impressive (but not 500-plus-foot, as was initially reported) home run off Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi:
That’ll help the slash line.
Add Tellez’ performance thus far in the big leagues with his relative youth (he’s 24) and his nickname and easy to understand why Jays fans might hope he’s around for the long term. Alas, it’s too early to know for certain.
Tellez has long possessed more raw power than he showed in games — believe it or not, he homered more than 20 times in a season just once over six years in the minor leagues. Perhaps he’s starting to tap into his above-average strength. He’ll need to, given his aggressive approach at the plate that has resulted in a walk less than six percent of the time in since arriving in Toronto. A bat-only player can survive by providing a lot of power or a lot of on-base ability — it’s hard to survive without providing much of either.
Tellez’ lacking defense (he’s split his time between DH and first base, where he’s considered substandard) complicates his long-term fit on the roster. The Blue Jays have a number of other talented hitters nearing arrival — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford — and a few other intriguing youngsters who are already on the big-league roster. The Jays may well run out of space for Tellez unless he can prove he’s a well-above-average hitter.
But that’s a scenario to ponder on down the road. For now, Tellez is one of the most watchable parts of an otherwise punchless Jays lineup. That counts for something.