Dodgers: Kiké Hernandez vs Chris Taylor Who Should be the Dodgers Super Utility

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Apr 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Kike Hernandez (14) runs to first on a dropped third strike against the Miami Marlins during a MLB game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Kike Hernandez (14) runs to first on a dropped third strike against the Miami Marlins during a MLB game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Coming into spring training this year the Dodgers held a battle for the super utility position between Kiké Hernandez and Chris Taylor.

Kiké has held that role for a couple of seasons for the Dodgers, but after a sub-par season in 2016 many fans were clamoring for Chris Taylor to claim the utility role.

Taylor held up his end of the argument by hitting for a .354 average this spring compared to a .189 average by Kiké in limited at-bats due to the World Baseball Classic.

Dave Roberts decided to go with Kike Hernandez mainly because of the Dodgers inability to hit left-handed pitching and his ability to play center field. Despite hitting only .189 off left-handed pitchers last season, Kike still managed to hit five home runs against lefties last season.

In 2015, Hernandez scorched lefties hitting over .400 with an on-base percentage over .450.  Currently, Kike is only hitting .207 against lefties, but he has two home runs and has an OPS approaching .900 off lefty pitching.

Chris Taylor was recalled from the minors recently and re-ignited the Kike vs. Taylor argument as he is hitting for a .389 average albeit a small sample size of eighteen at bats. Taylor tinkered with his swing and as a result, has been smoking the ball with an average exit velocity of 96 miles per hour which is ten miles per hour more than Kike’s average exit velocity. Taylor is also hitting .500 off of left-handed pitching in ten at bats so far.

This begs the question as to who really should be the Dodgers super utility man?  Kike or Taylor?  The better option is Kike, and there are a few reasons why. The first is defense and versatility. Despite Chris Taylor being considered the better shortstop, Hernandez fielding percentage at shortstop is only one percent lower (96% vs. 95%).

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When it comes to second base Kike’s fielding percentage is 99% compared to a 95% fielding percentage by Taylor.  While Taylor is the better fielder at third base, the Dodgers will move Forsythe to third whenever Justin Turner needs a breather.  Kike also has the advantage of playing outfield as he has logged innings at every outfield position and Chris Taylor has only played outfield a handful of innings during spring training.

Offensively Hernandez is the better hitter despite the hot start of Chris Taylor. While Kike’s career batting average is only three points higher than Taylor’s, Kike has an OPS which is .102 points higher than Taylor’s.  The home run numbers are not close either as Chris Taylor has only two career homers compared to nineteen by Kike.

Against lefties, their average and on-base percentages are within a few points of each other, but Kike once again holds a sizable power advantage boasting an OPS over .800.  While Taylor is off to a hot start, he will most likely cool off when the sample size is over a hundred at bats. Taylor has never been known as a good hitter and more of a defensive specialist.

When Forsythe returns the Dodgers will most likely option Chris Taylor to the minor leagues, but the best move would be to demote Scott Van Slyke. Off to an abysmal start, Van Slyke is only hitting .133 with an on-base percentage below .300 and porous OPS of .524.

With Cody Bellinger likely up for good, the Dodgers have another player who could play first base when Adrian Gonzalez needs a day off.  If they want to play the splits, they could always move Turner to first base and have Kike or Taylor play second with Forsythe shifting to third base.  Van Slyke is hitting under .200 against lefties so he hasn’t even been better than Gonzalez against left-handers.

Next: Do the Dodgers have issues in the outfield?

While Chris Taylor is off to a sizzling start, Kike Hernandez still holds more value in the super utility role.  If the Dodgers wanted to have a stronger bench, they need to send Scott Van Slyke to the minor leagues when Logan Forsythe is healthy enough to return.  Taylor is most likely to get the demotion, but he has done enough to stick on the Dodger’s bench. Hopefully, the Dodger’s brass does the right thing and sends Van Slyke to the minors.

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