Remember towards the beginning of the season, when everyone and their mother wanted to quarantine Cesar Hernandez given his lack of production? The Phillie fanbase was up in arms, immediately pressing for the struggling second baseman to be benched in favor of young utility man, Scott Kingery.
Well, now that he’s turned his bat on, it seems as though those complaints have quieted, and, instead of shedding tears of despair at the mention of Cesar Hernandez’ name, the fans are crying tears of glee — as Hernandez is now slashing an impressive .310/.375/.474 with 4 long balls.
With all of this celebrating of their middle infielder, however, the fans have turned their negative attention to the likes of Odubel Herrera, who is in a similar situation as Hernandez’ prior struggles.
Sputtering Out Early:
Over the last calendar year, Odubel Herrera has a .270 on-base percentage in a full season’s worth of plate appearances.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) May 21, 2019
As long as Scott Kingery proves to not be a liability in center field, that’s a job he can seize.
Let’s take a look at Doobs’ current stat line, shall we?
In 122 Plate Appearances: .225/.287/.351, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 27 SO, 9 BB, 69 OPS+
I’m not going to sugar coat it; Odubel looks terrible. He’s swinging wildly with no conviction, chases numerous poor pitches, and is continuously frustrating to watch. His mental mistakes, when he’s hitting well, are semi-acceptable, but they become increasingly infuriating as his struggles progress.
That said, it’s worth noting that, mid-April, Cesar Hernandez was facing struggles of his own. At his lowest low (April 13th,) Hernandez was slashing .178/.240/.244, and was continuously criticized for his defensive blunders at second base.
Yet, despite his early struggles, Hernandez stands where he is today; a current fanbase favorite.
What then does this mean for Herrera?
Let’s take a look at our protagonists on a wider scope...
The Long Game:
Yesterday, I tweeted out a comparison between two players:
Ok folks, in my latest piece for @TheGoodPhight, I’m comparing these two players.— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) May 21, 2019
This should be fun:
Player A: .278/.361/.382, 31 HR, 70 SB, 101 OPS+ over 571 games.
Player B: .279/.336/.428, 59 HR, 54 SB, 104 OPS+ over 592 games.
Who ya got?
Yup, you guessed it.
Player A, of the .278/.361/.382 slash is none other than Cesar Hernandez from 2015-2018.
Player B, of the .279/.336/.428 slash is the one and only Odubel Herrera over that same exact time frame.
It is astonishing how similar the two have looked (number-wise) over the course of 4 seasons, yet, the result of the poll was without contest. Those who voted (1,083 of you) overwhelmingly chose the 4-season line of Odubel Herrera, the current Phillie bane, over Cesar Hernandez’, the current Phillie hero.
Similar, yet Different:
While they are completely different players, the reiterating fact over these last four years is how oft overlooked these two tend to be.
Prior to 2018, Odubel Herrera was coming off two 4.0+ WAR seasons, and a 2.2 WAR season in 2017. He was EASILY the best hitter on the squad throughout his first few years in the bigs.
Cesar Hernandez, on the other hand, was the most underrated player on the team — consistently getting on base, making solid contact, and showing a flash of pop here and there.
The two of them also had their fair share of struggles, especially throughout their 2018 seasons, showing severe dips in contact, strikeout rates, and more.
So what is my angle here? What am I getting at by comparing these two players at face value?
Good Players are... Good:
The fact of the matter is — this is baseball. It is a volatile game with volatile players. Nothing is guaranteed.
That said, You have to remember who these guys are, and, though sometimes it may not feel like it, that these are two of the most consistent players that the Phillies have fielded over the course of their last four seasons.
Is Odubel Herrera a streaky hitter? Of course. Is Cesar Hernandez a bad baserunner? Maybe. Do they both make their fair share of mental mistakes? You bet. But, as the statistics have displayed, these guys show up time in and time out, and put up some pretty excellent numbers along the way. You can’t simply give up on one or the other because they’ve had periods of doubt throughout their respective tenures with the club.
Have faith in them, cheer them from the sidelines! Don’t just wait until they’re hot to suddenly realize how good they’ve been throughout the years.
After all, the best way to escape a slump is to play through it.
The both of them are excellent players — let’s treat them that way.