Dodgers: Enrique Hernandez is the Definition of Super Utility
Since arriving in Los Angeles in a 2015 pre-season trade with the Miami Marlins, Enrique Hernandez has been the Dodgers primary stuntman and defines the phrase ‘super utility.’
In his fourth season with the Dodgers, Hernandez is having a career year with 18 home runs and 69 hits, as of Aug. 21.
While his breakout offensive year has helped keep the Dodgers in the divisional race, Hernandez’s glove around the field has been more impactful.
In 728 innings played, Hernandez has logged nearly 270 of them in center field. He’s also played close to 300 innings in the middle infield.
His Defensive Runs Saved, totaled from eight positions played, equal to 5. That places him in a three-way tie for second among the Dodgers in DRS, which is led by Austin Barnes’ 10.
Hernandez’s ability to play nearly every position on the field has not gone unnoticed in sabermetrics, particularly when he makes plays the everyday-player couldn’t make.
In previous seasons, Hernandez’s ability to hit well against left-handed pitching earned him spot starts in the lineup. As a team that struggles to hit southpaws, Hernandez’s right-handed bat is important.
- Career vs. LHP: .255/.344/.484
- 136 hits, 36 doubles, four triples, 26 home runs and 117 strikeouts in 533 at-bats.
- Career vs. RHP: .212/.276/.364
- 130 hits, 25 doubles, four triples, 20 home runs and 157 strikeouts in 612 at-bats.
But so far this season, the opposite is true.
- LHP: .216/.344/.484
- 33 hits, six doubles, seven home runs, 17 walks and 28 strikeouts in 153 at-bats.
- RHP: .228/.306/.481
- 36 hits, five doubles, 11 home runs, 18 walks and 35 strikeouts in 158 at-bats.
Among many problems the Dodgers have faced in 2018, the ability to hit left-handers ranks on the top of the list.
The 26-year-old’s utility came to the test in an extra-innings game against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 24.
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When the 16th inning rolled into the late hours, the Dodgers bullpen had no relief pitchers to call upon. Starting pitcher Rich Hill was throwing in the bullpen, who was in between starts, warming up to get the ball if the game continued.
The inning started with Hernandez pitching to Nick Williams, who flew out to right field. He then walked the next two batters. The Phillies walked off the game with a three-run home run. Hernandez was the losing pitcher for the game.
By definition, a utility player is a person who can play different positions. Hernandez can play seven positions extremely well; that doesn’t include the one-third of an inning pitched.
Growing as an everyday-player, Hernandez is finding balance at the plate, which will make him even more appealing in 2021 free agency.
This December will mark the five-year anniversary Hernandez joined the Dodgers organization. After numerous positions played, and a few home runs to clinch a World Series berth, Hernandez, and the Dodgers make a great fit.