Look, Cesar Hernandez is not having a good 2016.
He doesn’t hit well. When he does get on, he has been a part of some of the worst base running blunders you can possibly imagine. A pony league rookie with his helmet on backwards running to third instead of first springs to mind. Hernandez has not done anything quite that egregious; I’m almost entirely certain that he is wearing his helmet correctly, but I’ve stopped paying attention during most of his at-bats, to be fair.
But it’s been bad. And him being bad, along with so many of the other Phillies being bad, has made the Phillies very bad. Some of these guys like Maikel Franco or Odubel Herrera, you’re just waiting for them to show up again, but other guys, like Hernandez, Peter Bourjos, and Brett Oberholtzer, you wonder if maybe this is just how they are.
Well, I’ve got some news for you, idiot. Bourjos is the team’s best hitter now, and Oberholtzer recorded his first career save, which seems impossible, seeing as he only enters games that are well, well out of the realm of three-run deficits, let alone with the Phillies leading.
And Hernandez, too, has been scurrying to first with more success than before, recording two separate four-hit games in the span of a week (with an 0-for-7 stretch in the middle, but hey, shut up). Watch him take batting practice against Twins last week.
Last night, it was the same thing against the Diamondbacks. There's a reason his numbers are uncharacteristically praiseworthy for June, in which he slashed .305/.329/.451. Yeah. Cesar Hernandez. And you know the Phillies love it, because that "Hail Cesar" campaign writes itself, they've just rarely had a reason to celebrate the 26-year-old.
Line drives! Bunts (gross)! Ground balls that should have been outs (a lot of these, actually)! Walks! Extra bases! Who the hell is this hulking brute, wearing the clothes of the weak-hitting, base-bumbling infielder who used to play for this team?
You don’t look at a baseball like that unless you’re planning to do unspeakable things to it.
After last night, Hernandez became 12-for-24 over the last week. There was a triple, a double, a walk, and mostly just a lot of mindless scrambling to first base while defenders crumbled around him. But at the end of the day, he was standing on first, which is a far cry from the Hernandez we watched neutralize a lot of Odubel Herrera walks and hits earlier this season with absolutely perfect double play balls. "Earlier," like, yesterday, I mean, when his fellow infielder who is desperate to break through joined him for a two-man blunder.
Cesar Hernandez grounds out, then Freddy Galvis gets caught in a rundown between third and home. #Dbacks with the 3-1-5-2-5-3-6 double play— Jake Rill (@JakeDRill) June 29, 2016
Look, we all know Hernandez is not "the guy." He’s not even "the guy" when Google "Cesar Hernandez."
We also know that he could stop hitting at a moment's notice, or maybe BABIP comes back around sooner than we thought, or maybe not every pitcher trying to beat him to the first base bag on a close play will lack the motivation to get there like Ricky Nolasco.
But still, any good performance is welcome right now, whether it’s Cody Asche coming back from the disabled list with a monster bat, or Hernandez understanding fully where all of the bases are. This brief stretch of success may be the highlight of his season, so let's just look at it for a second.
There. Wasn't that nice? Okay, back to hissing about how the Phillies don't play tonight. I know, I just found out, too.