Dodgers: The Kiké Hernandez Conundrum

mbricker
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 23: Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds second base after hitting a solo homerun during the fourth inning of a game against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium on April 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 23: Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds second base after hitting a solo homerun during the fourth inning of a game against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium on April 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

First, let me start by saying I love Kiké Hernandez.  How can you not?  I love his energy, his intensity, his attitude.  I love that you can genuinely feel his joy of playing the game every time he steps out on the field or into the batter’s box.

You just sense that he truly gets that he’s living a dream and genuinely appreciates how special that is.  He’s going to give you everything he has every time you put him out there, at the plate and in the field.  Even when he’s not in the line-up he’s out there psyching up fans and players alike.

But aside from his infectious excitement and style of play, how can you not love Kike’s incredible versatility?  I think if you asked most fans to describe Kiké Hernandez in one word, versatility would top the list.  Much is made of the Dodgers vaunted depth.  And their depth starts with Kike.  His contribution to their roster construction can’t be overstated.

One Player – So Many Roles

Kiké can do it all.  You can regularly slot him into third, shortstop or second, or any spot in the outfield.  He’ll occasionally fill in at first.  And like uber-utility man Derrel Thomas before him, I’m sure he could probably even give you a few innings behind the plate in a pinch.  What makes his versatility even better is that he doesn’t just play a lot of positions, but that he’s a solid defender at each of them.  Call it the defensive equivalent of “quality at-bats”.

Who hasn’t seen Kiké sacrifice his body diving for the ball or running into the wall to make a game-saving catch in the outfield?  Bare-handing a slow dribbler up the third base line and making a laser throw to first?  Those 2 phenomenal plays at short against Miami last week?  He’s not just holding the line, he’s flashing the leather.  So Kiké provides both breaths, in that he plays so many positions, AND depth, in that he plays them well.

Offensively, he’s got some pop in his bat.  Anyone who saw him steal the spotlight from Clayton Kershaw’s Game 5 gem by crushing 3 balls out of the park (including a grand slam) against the Cubs in the clinching game of last year’s NLCS can tell you that.  Then combine decent speed with pure hustle and Kike can look like an extra-base hit machine at times.

More from LA Dodgers News

Double-Edged Sword

In fact, it’s Kiké’s versatility that makes him so incredibly valuable to have on the roster and conversely why it’s so hard for him to slot in as a regular with a set position.  He’ll get some at-bats at third and short, but he’s not displacing (healthy) all-star infielders, Justin Turner and Corey Seager.  He’ll see time in the outfield, but Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor have right and center pretty well locked down.

Kemp and Pederson will also see significant time in left.  Reigning Rookie-of-the-Year, Cody Bellinger, is a fixture at first (assuming he can stay out of Doc’s doghouse).  Hernandez will probably see more time at second, splitting at-bats with Chase Utley while Logan Forsythe recovers from shoulder inflammation.

Next: Could the Dodgers target Manny Machado?

Truth be told, the Dodgers have a better starting option at every position over Hernandez.  Put Kiké’s numbers at any single position for the full season and he probably looks like a spot on the roster that you’d be looking to upgrade.  But put his numbers at 6 different positions and he becomes an invaluable fixture on the roster.  In fact, calling Kike the 25th man on the roster kind of seems like an insult.  He should be called the 25th-30th man on the roster.

facebooktwitterreddit