How Yankee Killer Teoscar Hernández can help the Dodgers win the World Series

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees / Luke Hales/GettyImages

The Dodgers have been stuck in the mud offensively many times over the past few weeks, but one player seems to always have the opportunity to flip the script, and he has delivered. That player is Teoscar Hernández. Last weekend against the Yankees, Hernández did all of the following: hit a two-run, go-ahead double in the 11th inning in a 2-1 win; hit two home runs (including a grand slam to push the lead from 4-2 to 8-2), and drove in six runs in an 11-3 win; and finally, hit a solo homer to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning of the series finale, even though L.A. would eventually lose the game 6-4.

Without even using stats to justify the argument, Hernández has come up in spots where the Dodgers have needed clutch performances and, especially while putting the team on his back throughout the weekend, he has delivered. Hernández has proven to be an ideal cleanup hitter whenever one of the Big Four is missing, and a major weapon whenever he is in the No. 5 or No. 6 spot in a fully healthy lineup. Looking at basic stats, he is second in the NL in home runs (16) and third in RBI (48). But to really see Hernández's value, some advanced stats must be explored.

Teoscar Hernández is significantly increasing the Dodgers' chances to win games

There are two stats that judge an individual player's impact on win probability where Teoscar Hernández ranks in a good spot. According to FanGraphs, Hernández ranks 54th in MLB in Win Probability Added (0.34 WPA) and 23rd in Situational Wins (0.87 WPA/LI). Even though Hernández's clutch rating (which measures how much better a hitter is in higher leverage situations) is below average – which is surprising if you have watched the last few weeks of Dodgers baseball – his impact on winning, regardless of the context of the at-bat, is undeniable.

Situational Wins and Win Probability Added are stats that measure that exact kind of impact, and considering how often Hernández comes up with runners on base, it was only going to be a matter of time before he came up big in some huge moments, like his grand slam against the Yankees on Saturday. Hernández will continue to be a positive player for the Dodgers with his bat, and when comparing Hernández's numbers to the Dodgers' postseason lineups in prior years, Hernández's potential value becomes all the more obvious.

Teoscar Hernández brings depth and power to a Dodgers' lineup that was lacking those important qualities in 2023

Although the Dodgers inserted Shohei Ohtani as the permanent DH this season, replacing J.D. Martinez, who played that role in 2023, there were still holes in the lineup that were obvious during the 2023 postseason. While the Dodgers will certainly need Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Ohtani, Will Smith and Max Muncy to have better postseasons in 2024 than they did in 2023, the hitters besides those five will have to contribute as well.

In 2023, the sixth spot in the postseason lineup (and the bottom of the order overall) was a rough one. In the Dodgers' final postseason game of 2023, a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, Jason Heyward was in that spot before Chris Taylor pinch-hit for him. While Heyward (15 HR, 40 RBI, .813 OPS) and Taylor (15 HR, 56 RBI, .746 OPS) both had decent years, neither of them produced significant outputs in the postseason.

Enter Teoscar Hernández. Hernández's role in 2024 is to stabilize the spot of the sixth bat in the lineup with All-Star caliber hitting, and so far he has been producing at that level. Even with the good years Heyward and Taylor had in 2023, Hernandez has already hit more homers (16) in 2024 than either Heyward or Taylor did through all of last season, and he has done that in just 67 games. His .849 OPS is higher than either of the aforementioned players, and if he can keep up that production in the postseason, the Dodgers will be getting more than enough value off the one-year deal with Hernández.

How will Dodgers' Hernández perform in the biggest moments?

There is no tool to definitively predict how Hernández will play in the postseason. As the lackluster 2023 postseason performances by Betts and Freeman indicate, things can change quickly within such a small sample size. Even though he has just 15 postseason at-bats in his career, there are encouraging signs for Dodgers fans to look at that indicate Hernández will do well when the lights are brightest.

Whether looking at his at-bats in recent big moments or just watching his emotional reactions when he does deliver in the clutch, Hernández has the feel of a player who likes to be a part of the limelight. In his limited postseason experience, Hernández also has managed an .894 OPS, driven largely by one game in the 2022 AL Wild Card series where he hit two home runs. It is truly impossible to know how any player will perform in the postseason, but if the last two weeks are any indication of how Hernández will perform, the Dodgers will have a powerful lineup in October.