TORONTO – Davis Schneider was driving around the city, exploring, when a man stopped his car in the middle of the street, flashed his lights and jumped out, asking the Toronto Blue Jays rookie to sign a ball and take a photo.
Schneider was a little taken aback but obliged, even without reminding the man of the rules of the road.
“I was like, ‘Dude, get back in your car.’ He was like, ‘It’s going to be two seconds,'” he said.
Since his major-league debut on August 4, just over a month ago, Davis Schneider’s legend has grown as he has accumulated franchise and MLB milestones while building a compelling case that he can be a piece of the Blue Jays lineup today – as they try to hang on to their wild-card spot – and in the future.
Naturally, blossoming from an unheralded 28th-round pick into a beloved fan favorite brought a level of attention Schneider never dreamed of. He appreciates the love, he says. (But, please, Blue Jays fans, eyes on the road.)
“I was noticed on the streets here and there,” he said. “The fans are the best part about it. Without the fans, there would be no baseball, so they make the game what it is.
After an offseason in which Schneider said he put on about 10 pounds of good weight, the 24-year-old had a breakout season at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .275/.416/.553 while slugging 21 home runs in 87 games. His performance opened the eyes of the organization, which ultimately led to his MLB call-up in early August.
At the time, Schneider expected to mostly ride the bench, but instead, he burst onto the scene in Boston, becoming the first player in MLB history to collect nine hits and two homers in his first three games. , thus beginning his cult hero status .
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 6, 2023
In fact, after his first 25 games, Schneider’s 1.315 OPS became the highest recorded in the modern era (since 1901) through 25 games. And after first playing sporadically after the Boston series, Schneider just hit cleanup for Toronto in a pennant race.
Schneider’s hot start is expected to cool off, though he’s slashing .297/.423/.653 with eight home runs in 30 games while currently on an 0-for-20 skid where he’s had some tough luck of hard balls. Schneider doesn’t pay much attention to his numbers, though he says his family and friends back home in Voorhees, New Jersey, keep an eye on his stats. Meanwhile, Schneider turned his attention to helping the Blue Jays hold on to their wild-card position.
“It doesn’t matter at this point if you’re good as long as the team wins,” he said. “I’d rather go 0-for-4 and the team win than get hit or have my personal accolades and still lose. I just want the team to win and I feel like that’s the biggest thing. That’s what everyone wants to do and as long as you try to contribute and you win, that’s all that matters. “
Bo Bichette is just a few years removed from his own rookie season in 2019, when he similarly put up franchise-famous numbers, though he did so with more name recognition as son of a major leaguer and as a top-ranked prospect. But watching Schneider’s seamless transition reminded the Blue Jays of his early days in the big leagues.
“We all remember when we were at that point,” Bichette said. “The way he plays now reminds me a lot of the way I played when I was in school. Just being fearless — nothing to lose, just trying to make your name. It looks great.”
While Schneider didn’t know many of his current teammates before the season — in spring training, Schneider wasn’t even invited to big league camp — he said he relied on their experience for advice and guidance.
“If I was on a different team, I don’t think I would play as well,” he said. “Because these guys bring out the best in me. The whole team, they make you play better and more relaxed. And that’s what baseball is, making sure you’re confident going out there.
And the biggest lessons he learned in the majors?
“When you’re in the minor leagues, you have an aura about the big leagues, that they’re unbelievable and 99 percent of them are, but know that when I’m here, they make mistakes too, like everyone else. , ” Schneider said. “They are human. Knowing that when you’re in the box, and facing a really good pitcher like (Max) Scherzer or (Aroldis) Chapman, or any other quality guy, they’re going to make mistakes here and there. And as a hitter, you have to be ready for it. “
While the Blue Jays brass is primarily focused on winning their remaining games and earning a playoff berth, there is also some attention being paid to the future of the team. The Blue Jays have several position players eligible for free agency after the season, including Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, Kevin Kiermaier and Whit Merrifield (assuming his mutual option is declined). That leaves some potential openings to be filled and Schneider’s recent play should earn him a high look next season.
Offensively, Schneider impressed with his selection at the plate and his ability to barrel the baseball. Meanwhile, defensively, he is a utility guy who is comfortable at second base, left field and third base, in that order. And since Davis’ arrival, Blue Jays manager John Schneider has spoken several times of the work the rookie has put in to continue to improve and prepare every day.
“I’ve always said that development continues in the big leagues, whether it’s Davis Schneider or George Springer,” the Blue Jays manager said. “You’re always improving and the guys that stay are the ones that are always improving and adjusting. So, the things he worked on (in Buffalo) to get better, he’s doing that here as well. That’s really it what you can ask for.”
However, Davis Schneider said he is not thinking about his place at the club next year or beyond.
“I live more in the moment now just because I feel like you’re in a playoff race and you never look ahead,” he said. “Obviously there are some thoughts here and there, like, what’s going to happen next year, the shape of the team and everything like that – that’s natural. But mostly, make sure I’m in season.”
And, to this day, Schneider enjoys memorable moments, both on and off the field.
“I’m happy to be here and happy to help contribute to this team,” he said.
(Photo: Dan Hamilton / USA Today)