The Blue Jays need a refined Davis Schneider moving forward

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski/USA Today
Mitch Bannon
1 month ago
Where would the 2023 Blue Jays have finished without Davis Schneider?
In the final two months of the season, the mustachioed masher handed a needy Toronto offence 12 homers, a 1.008 OPS, and enough thump to push them into the postseason.
Last year, he was the unexpected offensive saviour. This year, the Blue Jays are counting on him. I won’t bore you with a reiteration of Toronto’s lack of lineup additions this winter — there really weren’t any beyond Justin Turner. So, the Jays are reliant on what they’ve got, and Schneider is a big part of that. The problem is, it won’t come as easy for the sophomore in 2024.
If you stretch out Schneider’s debut season over a 162-game campaign, he would’ve mashed 37 homers with an OBP over .400 and 8.3 WAR — MVP stuff. But when you dive a little deeper you notice the league started to adapt to the 25-year-old, rather quick. After posting a nuts .426 average and 1.420 OPS in August, the metrics dropped to .174 BA and a more pedestrian .727 OPS in September. He still slugged and walked, but the contact plummeted.
The league’s adjustment was a heavy dose of the heater. Opposing pitchers upped their fastball usage by nearly 3% against the Toronto rookie from August to September, and even more so when Schneider was behind in the count. Most players see majority soft stuff when they’re at two strikes, Schneider saw 48.5% fastballs.
The infielder/outfielder came to the big leagues knowing high heat was his weakness — he flat-out admitted it. “Everyone knows I struggle with the high fastball,” he said. Then, the league started listening. By the end of the season, Schneider’s whiff rates on high four-seam fastballs (specifically high and outside) were dangerously close to always.

Don’t dismay: Schneider can still hit, even with his high-fastball hole. His September .727 OPS certainly plays and he mashes anything low in the zone. But, Blue Jays fans know what struggles with high heat can do to a player. Last year, Matt Chapman and Daulton Varsho both posted -5 run values against four-seamers, and became frustrating at-bats to witness for stretches.
Both Chapman and Varsho tinkered with swing-plane changes and leg-kick tweaks to help mitigate their fastball follies, but Schneider’s best bet for 2024 is just to ignore the pitch, as much as possible. Toronto’s presumptive 2B/LF platoon hit .294 on breaking pitches last year and still connected with plenty of fastballs down. Wait for those.
Even the best pitchers in baseball can’t dot up the top corner of the zone with their fastball every pitch, so taking the high heat or fouling it off is a realistic approach. So far this spring, that certainly seems like Schneider’s plan.
It’s still not a pitch that I’m going to do damage with all the time,” Schneider told TSN’s Scott Mitchell down in Florida. “So just knowing that going into games and being more mindful of it and try not to swing at it, basically, unless there’s two strikes. “
He’s put those words into action, too. In five spring games with tracked data, Schneider has seen 17 fastballs in the upper-half of the zone. He’s taken or fouled 11 of them, swinging through just four.
It might be mind-numbing to watch Schneider take high heaters for 162 games next year, but if it allows him to rip a double off a curveball or catch a misplaced pitch in the middle of the zone, we know what he can do with those. It’ll be difficult for him to lay off the juicy high fastball, but the Blue Jays are counting on that refined Schneider in 2024.


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