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2020 Career Years

Even though 2020 was a shortened season, these four players had career years:

Teoscar Hernandez (RF Toronto Blue Jays)

2020 and Career Stats:

Rundown: Hernandez was acquired from Houston along with Nori Aoki for Francisco Liriano. Houston needed the bullpen help, and their outfield was log-jammed with players like George Springer and Josh Reddick. Ever since that trade, Hernandez has proved he deserves a spot in the Blue Jays lineup. 2020 was no exception. At one point, he was the leader in stolen bases and home runs.

Analysis: Hernandez was in the top 5% of every hard hit batted ball category including Barrel %, EV, XSLG, and hard hit percentage. Hernandez still strikes out a decent amount (30.4% this year). As you will see throughout this article, Hernandez decreased his pop ups (8.7% last year to 3.9% this year) and fly balls (32.1% last year to 27.3% this year), while increasing his line drives (20.4% last year to 30.5% this year). He also saw a noticeable decrease in fastballs faced (57.7% to 52.9%) and an increase in offspeed pitches (10.1% to 14.6%)

Conclusion: With the Blue Jays being an up and coming team along the likes of Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr, I would caution the strikeout percentage. I can see it increasing especially with Hernandez only swinging at 64.9% of the meatball pitches (MLB average 75.1%). If Hernandez becomes even more aggressive, he can tip the scales and dip his average down much like Joey Gallo did this year.


Brandon Belt (1B San Francisco Giants)

2020 and Career Stats:

Rundown: Belt is the oldest player on this list, and the longest tenured. Belt's been with the Giants organization since 2011, and has an All Star appearance to go along with his two World Series rings. The Giants didn't have a stellar offensive team, with Belt being their best hitter. Others include Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, and Wilmer Flores.

Analysis: Belt increased his barrel % from his career number of 10.7% to 16.8% this year. That barrel percentage coupled with the lower launch angle (20.8 degrees to 18 degrees this year) lead to his highest percentage of hard hit balls (37% career up to 46.9% in 2020). He did see a good amount of meatballs, and took advantage of those swinging 93.3% of the time (MLB average 75.1%).

Conclusion: While Belt has been around for a bit, I have slight reservation that this will continue to trend upward, notably looking at the meatball %. Opposing pitchers threw into his hot zone a lot this year (130 total pitches in a zone where he averaged 99.5MPH EV). I would say this would be peak Belt as long as pitchers adjust correctly.


Jesse Winker (OF/DH Cincinnati Reds)

2020 and Career Stats:

Rundown: Between the likes of Trevor Bauer, Nick Castellanos, and Reds legend Joey Votto, it's easy to overlook Jesse Winker. Drafted by the Reds in 2012, Winker debuted in 2017 and has been a consistent starter since the 2018 season. Thanks to the addition of the DH in the NL this season, and the weird fall of Aristides Aquino, Winker had a spot in the lineup.

Analysis: Winker cranked up his BB% from last years 9.9% to 15.3%. His hard hit percentage also jumped from last years 41.1% to 49%. Even with the increase of swinging on the first pitch from 22.5% to 29.5%, his whiff percentage went down almost 10% from 29% to 19.2%. What his increase in stats can really be attributed to is Winker making better contact, with his career barrel percentage at 6.7% was up to 13.5%.

Conclusion: Regardless of the increased swing and miss in his game, if Winker can put the bat on the ball efficiently, he will continue to trend upwards.


Travis d'Arnaud (C Atlanta Braves)

2020 and Career Stats:

Rundown: Originally drafted by the Phillies in the first round back in 2007, d'Arnaud was regarded as an upper echelon catcher. Unfortunately, his bat never materialized, until this year. The Braves are d'Arnuad's fourth team, and he couldn't have picked a better line up to bat in.

Analysis: Protected by the likes of Acuna, Ozuna, and Freeman, d'Arnaud saw more middle pitches than ever before. He chased the same amount of pitches as his career high from last year (31.8%), and increased his first pitch swing to a career high 39.7%, while whiffing a career high 30.9% of swings. In those swings, he dramatically decreased his fly ball (22% career down to 14.7% in 2020) and his pop ups (9.4% for his career to 2.6% in 2020), while increasing the line drives (25.9% career up to 39.7% in 2020).

Conclusion: d'Arnaud saw these great career high percentages in his batter profile. As long as the lineup stays the same around him, he will continue to succeed.


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