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Conversations with the Herd: Blue Jays Slugger Davis Schneider

By: Brian Frank

Davis Schneider took the big leagues by storm last season. After slashing .275/.416/.553 with 21 home runs in 87 games for the Bisons, Schneider made his presence felt in his major-league debut at Boston’s Fenway Park in early August. He hit a home run in his first big-league at-bat, and then proceeded to go 9-for-13 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs in the three-game series. His nine hits tied former Bisons outfielder Coaker Triplett for the most hits in a player’s first three big-league games since at least 1901. Schneider went on to slash .276/.404/.603 with eight home runs in 35 games for the Blue Jays last year.

Schneider hit eight home runs in 35 games for Toronto last season. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

He began this season in Toronto and continues to put up big numbers at the plate. He has a .900 OPS through his first 76 major-league games and recently began batting leadoff for the Blue Jays. As pitchers see more of him, Schneider has been making adjustments at the plate in order to continue to be successful.

“I think throughout my career you’re always making adjustments, even when you’re in the minor leagues,” Schneider said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “The big leagues are kind of the same.”

Schneider has noticed that even though pitchers have made changes to how they pitch to him during his second season, even the game's greatest hurlers tend to fall back on what works best for them.

“Each pitcher I feel pitches to their strength,” Schneider explained. “Obviously, fast balls up is kind of the biggest thing, but I feel like pitchers still kind of pitch to their strengths no matter who’s hitting. Maybe sometimes they’ll go to a batter’s weakness, but mostly they go with what they do best.”

Schneider grew up about a half hour’s drive from Philadelphia. He recently had the opportunity to play at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia when the Blue Jays played a two-game weekday series against the Phillies. About 150 of Schneider's family and friends made the journey to Philadelphia to cheer on Voorhees, New Jersey’s favorite son.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It felt like my big-league debut again, just because of how many family and friends were there. I was nervous. That was the first time I was kind of nervous and had butterflies in a while. I mean, I still get nervous before big league games, but that was a whole different level.”

“It was a Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and people still showed up after work or whatever,” he continued. “It was cool to see everyone there.”

Schneider during infield drills at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

Despite only playing in 76 big-league games, Schneider keep himself from being awed by the major-league experience and the numerous stars he’s playing against.

“If you make it a bigger deal than it is and give pitchers too much credit, then you’re going to be in a bigger hole than you actually are because they’re all going to make mistakes," he said. "They’re all human. So, I’ve kind of come to realize really early in my career, especially last year, like Bo and Vladdy and a lot of other guys said, these guys make mistakes so don’t act like they’re superhuman or anything like that. Just go up there, have a plan, and try to execute.”

“Even playing against guys like Harper or Ohtani, I came to realize they’re really great baseball players, but don’t be in awe of them just because they’re really good at baseball. They’re still human beings. They still put on pants the same way I do. I kind of came to realize it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’re still trying to compete with them. Don’t think they’re superhuman. Just make sure you go out there and just try to compete and go from there.”

Much of Schneider’s success comes from his discipline at the plate. His chase percentage, walk percentage, and barrel percentage all rank near the top of the league since he was called up to the Blue Jays last August.

“I’m never going to be able to hit the ball as hard as Vladdy or hit the ball as far as Ohtani,” he said. “Kind of knowing that, and knowing what I do really well – like Bo can hit everything, but me, I only can hit certain pitches. So realizing that, I’m not going to do damage on balls that are down or away, so I’ve got to make sure I’m going in there with a plan and if he doesn’t throw it in the plan that you’re looking for, then don’t swing. That’s kind of my go to. I’ve kind of worked on it (plate discipline), but I’ve always kind of had that. Even growing up I laid off pitches that I knew I couldn’t handle and just kind of waited for the pitcher to make a mistake.”

A disciplined hitter throughout his days in the minor leagues, Schneider feels like the Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) system at Triple-A last year helped him understand the strike zone even better than he had before.

“Just knowing what the strike zone should be and kind of narrowing it down from that point, makes you more selective as a hitter – and pitchers are going to make that mistake more often when they’re not trying to miss certain spots,” he said. “I think it helped me a lot when I first got here, just trying to make sure I’m swinging at good pitches. The ABS narrows down your zone a little bit.”

Schneider has a 151 career OPS+. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles.

Schneider currently rooms with his former Bison teammate Ernie Clement, who has also established himself as a key player on the Blue Jays.

“We have a lot of stuff in common,” Schneider said. “We like to kind of do the same things off the field. We play a lot of golf. We play video games. We don’t really go out and drink and party too much. We’re really similar in that aspect. Yeah, it’s cool to kind of share that experience with someone. I think we’re the only ones that room together on the team.”

Schneider has also been joined in the big leagues this season by another former Bisons star – Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer and 2015 International League MVP Matt Hague, who is now an assistant hitting coach for the Blue Jays. Hague is very familiar with Schneider’s swing. He was the Bisons’ hitting coach last season and also coached Schneider at Double-A New Hampshire in 2022.

“He knows a lot.” Schneider said. “He’s very personable. That’s a big thing that people don’t realize about him. He knows everything about the swing, but he also knows how to communicate that to you. He’s such a good human being too. I feel like that gets lost nowadays. You can know everything about something, but if you don’t know how to communicate it with someone or you’re not a good person, I feel like you can’t really resonate with someone with that. He does a really good job of talking baseball and also not talking about baseball too.”

Despite Schneider’s strong start to the season, the Blue Jays offense as a whole has struggled to score runs. However, Schneider believes the team as a whole is close to hitting its stride and breaking out at the plate.

“I think we’re pretty close,” he said. “We show signs of it here and there, but we haven’t really had that breakout game.

Obviously, in Minnesota we kind of came back and scored those runs, but I feel like consistently we haven’t really been there as a team. I feel like we’re very close. It just takes one or two games to get that momentum and once you get that, there’s really no stopping the team – and I think we’re right there.”


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