You know I didn’t think much of , (also known as Kiki) when the Dodgers first acquired him from the Marlins in the trade. He seemed to be a throw in. After the first couple of weeks of spring training, I thought even less of him. I figured he was another all glove and no bat guy. You all should know how I feel about those guys by now. I mean, we already have one Darwin Barney on the club.
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The guy is starting to grow on me though, as his bat is starting to heat up. We already know the guy can play strong defense all over the diamond. He has Major League experience at six positions (LF CF, RF, SS, 2B, 3B). He is rated favorably as an above average defender at all positions. In the outfield, he has saved five defensive runs, and has made just two errors. As an infielder he’s rated at 82.6 runs above average (UZR) at third base. His range isn’t the greatest, but he makes up for that with steady hands, and solid glove work.
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What about his hitting? That seemed to be his weak area of his game. He’s never been a terrific hitter, but certainly respectable. This spring the utility infielder started out slowly, going 0 for 13. Now after another two hit game, he is now 11 for his last 27. He also has a bit of pop in his bat, hitting three home runs in Cactus League play.
The thing is he consistently makes contact. Last season he had an 89% contact rate on pitches in the strike zone, and a 21% line drive rate. In his first MLB season with the Astros and Marlins last year, he struck out just 21 times in 121 at-bats. It’s hard to predict how much playing time he would get considering that he will probably be starting the season in the minors. Zips has him playing in 138 games this year. That’s very doubtful to happen of course. If Hernandez ends up playing in 138 games this year, then you know something went very wrong. However his projections are respectable.
Zips sees him hitting .256 with 12 home runs, and an ISO of .138. For all you nerds out there, that’s a WRC+ of 99. League average is nothing to scoff at. After collecting two more hits today, he’s brought his spring average up to .237 (9 for 38) in 17 games.
I would much rather have the explosive bat of in that last backup infielder spot on the Dodger bench. However, I know the Dodgers are very high on Hernandez, and if he continues his solid play then he may find himself up at the big league level at some point. Especially considering we know that there will be more injuries, and he will find himself opportunities throughout the season. Hernandez may not be a flashy player, but the Dodgers could do a lot worse with his roster spot.