A brief note on Odúbel Herrera
It would be impossible to preview Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn’s seasons without discussing Odúbel Herrera, as the three of them are competing for time in center field. I personally believe that Herrera no longer deserves a place in Major League Baseball, and I want to make that abundantly clear before I discuss his chances of making the Opening Day roster. For the rest of this article, I’ll be writing about Herrera from strictly a baseball perspective, but as far as I’m concerned, I wish the Phillies would cut ties with him no matter how well he plays.
The next six games will determine Adam Haseley’s fate. In turn, Adam Haseley will determine Roman Quinn’s fate.
It was not so long ago that we had completely written off Haseley’s chances of being the Opening Day center fielder. He suffered a groin strain three games into Spring Training, and the initial reports suggested he’d be out for four weeks and would almost surely miss Opening Day. Shortly thereafter, Odúbel Herrera had a few good games, and it seemed like center field was his to lose.
But Adam Haseley is back. He came in as a mid-game replacement last night, and he’ll be starting in center field today, more than a week ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, Odúbel Herrera has just two hits in his last eighteen plate appearances.
Perhaps we were too quick to presume that Odúbel Herrera would be the starting center fielder. Joe Girardi certainly hasn’t promised him the job, and it’s not like Herrera is blowing anyone away with his performance. He was only the favourite by process of elimination; Adam Haseley was injured, Roman Quinn isn’t a starting-caliber player, Scott Kingery is a mess, and Mickey Moniak is going back to the minor leagues. Now that Haseley is back in the conversation, things are going to get far more interesting.
Can Adam Haseley prove he’s better than Odúbel Herrera and ready for major league action in time to start the season?
Groin strain notwithstanding, Haseley is more deserving of a starting job. In 107 games played over the past two seasons, Haseley has hit a respectable .269/.330/.382 with a .308 wOBA. Those aren’t great numbers, but for a center fielder they’re pretty close to average. Odúbel Herrera, on the other hand, hit just .218/.279/.345 with a .270 wOBA over his last 107 games. That’s really bad.
Odúbel hasn’t done anything this spring to stand out either. He’s had a few home runs, but he’s only slashing .222/.243/.472. Most of the time Spring Training statistics don’t really matter, but in Herrera’s case they absolutely do. Herrera needs to prove himself if he wants to make the roster. He hasn’t played in the majors in almost two years, and the last time he was playing, he was terrible. Plus, in order for him to make the team, somebody else has to be cut. If Herrera doesn’t play very well, why should the Phillies give him a roster spot?
However, Herrera does have one advantage over Haseley: he’s perfectly healthy and ready to start the season. If Haseley isn’t ready come April 1st, and if Herrera is named the Opening Day center fielder, it will be a little harder for Haseley to take over later on. As soon as Herrera is added to the forty-man roster, he’ll no longer have his roster status working against him. Plus, if he plays half decently, he’ll just get to keep playing. Why would Joe Girardi want to mess with something that’s working?
Thus, the next six games will determine Adam Haseley’s fate.
And what, then, of Roman Quinn?
If Haseley is the primary center fielder, Roman Quinn’s roster spot is safe. For one thing, Haseley and Quinn make a good platoon; Quinn has struggled to hit right-handed pitching and Haseley has struggled to hit left-handed pitching. Haseley’s career wOBA vs. RHP is .319 and Quinn’s career wOBA vs. LHP is .328. Over the past few seasons, league-average wOBA for CFs has been about .315. If Haseley were to face mostly RHP and Quinn were to face mostly LHP, they could put up league-average offense for center field.
Quinn will also be a valuable bench player when Haseley is starting. He’s probably the team’s best pinch-hitting option against LHP, and he’ll be a great defensive replacement for Andrew McCutchen.
However, if Adam Hasley is relegated to the bench, Roman Quinn is in trouble. Haseley and Quinn fill essentially the same niche, but Adam Haseley fills it a little better. Haseley is the stronger offensive player, and while his defense isn’t as good as Quinn’s, he’s still a solid defensive replacement for McCutchen in left field. Haseley also has time to grow, whereas Quinn is probably a finished product at this point. If Adam Haseley is the fourth outfielder, there might not be room on the bench for Roman Quinn.
So how could things go right for Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn this season?
Haseley needs to prove he’s healthy and outplay Odúbel Herrera over the next week. If that happens, he and Roman Quinn should be the primary center fielders to start the season. We can probably count on them to be roughly league-average, or at least close to league-average. As the eight-hole hitters in the Phillies lineup, that’s all they really need to do.
And how could things go wrong for them?
If they do win the job out of Spring Training, their hold on the position will be tenuous. Scott Kingery, Mickey Moniak, and Odúbel Herrera all have higher upside and could steal the job away at any time. Adam Haseley could find himself on the bench and Roman Quinn could find himself on another team by midseason.