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40 in 40: Teoscar Hernández is Right at Home in Seattle

“When you’re here, you’re family.” - Olive Garden; - The Mariners to Teoscar

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Several days ago the Mariners’ shiniest new bat sat down with Aaron Goldsmith, Shannon Drayer and Gary Hill on The Hot Stove (ouch) to talk about his feelings about being traded from Toronto to Seattle:

“Oh hell yeah.”

Okay, that wasn’t Teoscar Hernández, that was me, but for all intents and purposes that kinda was what he was saying.

“It feels great. As soon as I got traded, I was so excited to join the club and the people, the players, the fans and all the things that that I watched from the other side.”

On November 16, our Man with a Plan™ Jerry Dipoto completed the first splashy trade of the offseason when he sent RHP reliever Erik Swanson and LHP prospect Adam Macko north of the US-Canadian border to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for OF Teoscar Hernández.

To acquire Hernández, the Mariners dipped into their bountiful pool of pitching talent from both the Major League and prospect levels. While it can be a wicked bummer having to bid farewell to players in the offseason that we hung an alter for enjoyed watching, it’s a beautiful thing that we’re able to say we have enough depth at a certain position to get a killer bat like the one from the Cotui, Dominican Republic native. And a killer bat he has, indeed.

Just how hard does he hit?

In 2022 Hernández ranked in the Top 2% of the league in Hard Hit % and Top 4% Exit Velo. This translates to: he’s hitting it hard off the bat a lot.

In relation to the Seattle Mariners of yester-season, the man I accidentally called Teo Two Cars in the Lookout Landing Slack a couple months ago is not only a step above the rest. He’s a whole floor above.

The closest player to him for both Hard Hit % and Exit Velo is, well, Julio of course. Our reigning AL Rookie of the Year hit well enough to crack the Top 5% for HH and Top 8% for EV. According to Baseball Savant, had Hernández been with Seattle in 2022, the Mariners would have the only American League teammate duo in the HH% Top 10 (Matt Olson and Austin Riley of the Atlanta Braves checked in for the National League there). However, Hernández was not with the Mariners in 2022 so that means another AL team secured a duo in the Top 10 - Toronto. Actually, they had four teammates in the Top 15 (Hernández #4, Chapman #6, Guerrero Jr. #11 and Bichette #12) which I think is just a little greedy and honestly we did the AL a favor in balancing it out a bit. Just sayin’.

You may be asking yourself “what’s so special about the Hard Hit %?”

A Hard Hit is categorized as anything coming off the bat at over 95mph and I’m not sure about you, but it’s a lot harder to see a ball when it’s going faster. Our newest right fielder hit a ball good for it to be categorized as a Hard Hit nearly 3 out of every 5 times last season.

American League Wild Card Series: Seattle Mariners v. Toronto Blue Jays
The definition of smoke show is anything that jumps off Teoscar’s bat.
Photo by Thomas Skrlj/MLB Photos via Getty Images

But what about those sexy home runs? You know, the ones that bring a crowd to its feet and thus are the single biggest hazard to the safety of your garlic fries not flying four rows in front of you because you’re so excited? Yeah, those.

Last year Hernández was one of 41 players in the league to hit at least 25 home runs (he hit exactly 25). The two other 2023 Mariners on that list are Eugenio Suárez at 31 and Juliooooooo at 28.

One of my favorite parts of a Baseball Savant player profile is where the little analyst elves (first cousins to Santa’s elves, third cousins to the Keebler elves) predict how many home runs a given player would’ve hit in a season had they only hit at one ballpark. In 2022, Hernández’s average ballpark home runs per division looked like this:

Teoscar Hernández 2022 Avg HR Exp. Per Ballpark

AL West AL East AL Central NL West NL East NL Central
AL West AL East AL Central NL West NL East NL Central
28.8 26.6 24.4 28.8 28.4 29.2

What the elves are telling me in this is that it’s a good thing Hernández will be playing more games in the AL West and it’s a good thing the schedule format changed this year to where each team will play every team at least once. The AL West is tied for 2nd in Avg HR Exp. Per Park but that’s alright because Seattle will be hitting the road in the NL West (also 2nd), the NL Central (1st) and the NL East (3rd), too.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
That’s a smile made for the Mariners.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

As the headline indicates, Hernández is right at home in Seattle and it’s not only his bat that’s welcome here.

The newest #35 for the Mariners comes with a big bat, but he also brings with him big vibes. Trades are part of the baseball landscape and very rarely do players have a say in where they go (unless there’s a no-trade clause in their contract). It’s entirely possible that a team will get a guy that has the skills to add to the offense or pitching staff but aren’t necessarily thrilled to be there. Lucky for us, Dipoto is a big clubhouse culture guy and values team chemistry as one of the key factors in trading for a player and brought in some explosive offense from a guy that wants to be in the Emerald City.

Following the November trade, Hernández said:

“When I see what this team is capable of, it’s pretty awesome. Now being a part of that, it’s exciting for me. I couldn’t be any happier than this.”

It’s possible to win with a guy that doesn’t feel at home and it’s also possible to win without a bat that makes your jaw hit the concrete underneath your seats. But it’s much, much harder.

And with Teoscar Hernández teamed up with the other good vibes in our lineup now, hard wins are out, hard hit balls are in.