On Sunday, Odubel Herrera singled in the winning run for the Phillies, helping them take a game in Miami for the first time in many, many years.
Phils take the lead in extras on an Odubel Herrera RBI single pic.twitter.com/gSvAGP2HMU— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) September 5, 2021
Was he helped by the rightfielder bobbling the ball? Of course, but he can’t bobble it if Herrera doesn’t hit it. Sometimes, you just have to give credit where it’s due and lately, Herrera has deserved a lot of credit for his offense.
During his tenure in Philadelphia, Herrera has been a polarizing player on the field. He’s sometimes a walking TOOTBLAN, his lows are extremely low and his highs have placed him on an All-Star team. He has been very good defensively this season in centerfield and has provided at least some measure of stability to the position. Have there been times when he should not have been in the lineup? Yes. There have been stretches this season where Herrera’s play has been borderline unplayable, but Joe Girardi’s lack of fondness for anyone who is remotely young has made sure that Herrera has held a tight grip on the position, as well as the top spot in the batting order.
Herrera also epitomizes this offense right now: they run hot and cold. Right now, Herrera is in the middle of one of his hot streaks. Prior to Monday’s game, Herrera .368/.429/.649 in his last 64 plate appearances, cherry-picking of stats if I ever saw it. During that stretch, he has given them some pop (two doubles, one triple, four home runs) that has helped the team offensively. It’s been one of the reasons they went on that run of scoring at least seven runs in seven straight games before the Miami pitching staff put the clamps on the bats.
As much as people may not want to admit it (myself included), Herrera has been very good lately and will be vital in the team’s quest to making the playoffs. They have been searching for consistency from anyone in the lineup. They’ve gotten in from Bryce Harper, they’ve gotten it from Jean Segura and that is about it. No one else has been a consistent threat in the lineup, Herrera included, throughout this season. It’s one of the reasons they have not run away with the division lead when it’s been right there for them to take. So, at this point in the season, it’s all about someone getting hot. They have 25 games left starting today in Milwaukee, so relying on one or two players to get hot is going to be crucial to them in their quest.
Herrera can be that guy.
He has shown throughout his time in Philadelphia that he can get hot and be a real threat with the bat. Twice in his career has Herrera had an OPS of .900 or greater over the course of 15 games: his latest 15 games this season and again in 2016, when he hit .344/.385/.525 from September 16 to October 2. If we want to stretch the span of games to 25, the amount that the Phillies have to play this season still, those two streaks just mentioned still look impressive: .959 OPS during this time period (August 4 - yesterday) and also in that September stretch (September 5 - October 2) when he had a .921 OPS.
On the flip side, Herrera has also shown he can be ice cold for long stretches. If we want to flip the query and see if there are 25 games stretches of ineptitude, Herrera has shown he can do that as well. There are two stretches of 25 games, one in 2018 and another in 2019, where he had an OPS under .600: .467 in the former, .552 in the latter. If someone wants to argue that Herrera can be very good for long stretches, there is also the equal and just as valid argument that he can be very bad for long stretches.
For a team that has been looking for someone, anyone, that can help Harper and Segura carry this offense as a third wheel, Herrera does have the ability to be that guy. We’ve waited for guys like J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius to hit with consistency this year, but we all see what Gregorius has done this year. Realmuto has been good (better than you think) at the plate this year, but his power production has been a touch on the disappointing side. At this point, with the road to the playoffs getting more and more difficult, the team will take what they can get on offense and right now, Herrera is giving them production.
They will take it.
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