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Q&A: Davis Schneider on barrel rate, top moustaches

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We spoke with Toronto Blue Jays utility man Davis Schneider about making his way though the minors as an unheralded prospect, his thoughts on advanced hitting metrics, what life would be like if he wasn't playing baseball, and his Mount Rushmore of best moustaches in MLB history. This conversation's been edited for length and clarity.

theScore: You were taken with the 849th pick in the 2017 draft and opened 2023 as the No. 28 prospect in the Blue Jays' system. Now you're a key piece for the MLB team. What's it like making your way through the minors not being a highly touted prospect?

Schneider: It was a bit of an up-and-down experience. I feel like my first couple of years I was playing a lot. I got opportunities but I just didn't really perform like I wanted to. I always thought I was talented enough. To be honest, I always thought I was better than a lot of guys. Not just in our system but throughout baseball. I was put on the development list a couple of times, which was fine. Guys were paid more money than me. I get it. It's a business. You had to play the guys who were making a little more money. I just took it as an opportunity to get a little bit better when I was on there and wasn't playing. So, you might as well practice. I thought the Blue Jays were great to me. A lot of other teams would've released me but this organization fortunately kept me around.

theScore: You've hit the ground running since your MLB debut last August. Do you ever still pinch yourself?

Schneider: Oh yeah, all the time. I still don't feel like it's real sometimes. Playing with these guys on this team. (Justin) Turner and (Kevin) Kiermaier. Basically (stars) up and down the lineup. It's just a cool experience to share it with these type of guys and I couldn't ask for anything better.

theScore: What's been your favorite MLB moment so far?

Schneider: When we clinched the playoff spot last year. That was probably the coolest experience I've been a part of just because I got to share it with the whole team. I was only up for two months last year but I felt like the guys really accepted me and felt like I was there the whole year. Popping champagne and drinking a lot of beer was a pretty cool experience.

Mark Blinch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

theScore: The team rewarded your strong play by moving you into the leadoff spot. What kind of mindset do you need hitting first in the lineup?

Schneider: Having George Springer lead off for many years, he has a lot of wisdom and is one of the best leadoff hitters of his generation. He knows a lot. So, I've learned a lot from him just from my time here. You can kind of (lead off) in multiple ways. You can be a little aggressive, or don't change your approach just because you're leading off. I kind of have to pick and choose what the situation is, but I like it. It doesn't really matter what part of the lineup I'm in. I feel like I'm going to compete wherever I'm at.

theScore: You're in the 93rd percentile for barrel rate. What's your secret to squaring up the ball?

Schneider: I think all those stats are kind of pointless in my opinion. I feel like just putting together great at-bats and putting the ball in play with an emphasis on hitting the ball hard is the biggest thing. Turner doesn't hit the ball relatively hard but he's one of the best hitters of the past 10 years because he knows how to square up the ball (with) good contact and get the ball in the air. So, I feel like that's all that really matters. I just try to make sure that if I'm swinging, I do it with force, and I'm picking up pitches that I can do the most damage on.

theScore: Do you ever check out your Baseball Savant page for fun?

Schneider: Actually, yes, but it's more for looking at other people (and) how they're doing it. A lot of that stuff is kind of dumb. Some of that stuff lies but some of it doesn't. Obviously, (Shohei) Ohtani's basically the best at all of it. Same with (Aaron) Judge and (Mike) Trout. There's good points to it but there are some hitters who have bad (Baseball Savant pages) and they're actually pretty good.

theScore: You're good friends with Ernie Clement. What does it mean to you to be experiencing some success in the majors together?

Schneider: It's awesome. I remember last year when it was me, Clement, and Spencer Horwitz. We were in Colorado. Spence hit his first career homer, and we're all in the infield together. Ernie was at short, I was at second, and Spence was at first. It was during a pitching change but we're all like, "Damn, this is awesome." We looked around and it was the coolest thing ever. To share it with Ernie this year is pretty special because I only met him last year in spring training and (he) kind of grew into a really good friend of mine.

Mitchell Layton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

theScore: You're known for your bat. However, your defensive versatility has also been on display this season. How do you stay prepared to play left field or second base? Which one do you like better?

Schneider: Just make sure you're practicing before the game starts (for) whatever position I'm playing that day. Just making sure I'm putting in the work before the game.

I prefer second base because I'm a natural infielder. I've gotten more comfortable out in left field because of the reps I've been taking and the practice I've been putting in. So, as of now, it doesn't really matter. But obviously second base is kind of where I like (to be).

theScore: What are your expectations for the rest of the season? It's still early but have you had any thoughts about representing the Blue Jays at the All-Star Game?

Schneider: No, not really. I think we're just so focused on winning. Obviously you want to do well in the game (individually) but we're trying to win a World Series (and) trying to bring a championship back to Canada. So, that's the only thing on our minds: trying to win baseball games.

theScore: What was life like growing up in New Jersey? Did you always want to be a baseball player? What would be your dream job if you weren't playing ball?

Schneider: It was great. I love it. I still live with my parents back home in my basement. I love being home. It was really cool being back there for those two games in (Philadelphia). It felt like my debut again. That was the first time that I was really nervous since my debut. There was just so many of my family and friends at (Citizens Bank Park) to support me. I couldn't ask for anything better. It was a really cool experience to share that with my family and friends.

I always wanted to be a baseball player (but) I never really thought it would come to fruition. It still doesn't feel real. It still doesn't feel like I'm playing baseball for a living.

I didn't want to go to college. I wasn't smart enough. I couldn't really work a 9-to-5 job. I couldn't work a desk job like a lot of my friends do. That would literally drive me nuts. I don't really need that much money. I could work in construction. I could live in a little shack with my dog and I'd be fine. So, either work construction or as a firefighter, or even give baseball lessons on the side.

theScore: OK, it's time for the hard-hitting questions. We need to talk more about your friendship with Clement. What would be the name of your sitcom?

Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Schneider: "The Two Idiots." I wouldn't even say we're dumb. I would actually say "The Two Lazy Boys." We don't really do that much. We don't like to drink. We don't like to party. We go back after each game and play video games. We play a lot of golf together. We are just two regular dudes who play baseball together. We have a really good friendship off the field. We aren't the type of guys who go out there and party. I don't even remember the last time we got drunk and hung out outside. We go back and play video games. He's upstairs and I'm downstairs and I can hear him yelling through the mic.

theScore: What would it take for you to shave your moustache?

Schneider: I dunno what it would take. I grow out a beard during the offseason. I like having a beard. I hate shaving so I'd rather grow out a beard. I just (have a moustache) for baseball season but I can't go baby face. I can't go full-on no moustache. I at least need some facial hair.

theScore: Who would be on your Mount Rushmore of greatest moustaches in MLB history?

Schneider: That's a tough one. Bill Buckner had a good one. Rollie Fingers, obviously. Dennis Eckersley. So, that's three. One more. Ken Griffey Jr. had a small moustache going. He was probably one of the best center fielders ever. So, I'd say Ken Griffey Jr. (for my last one).

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