Cesar Hernandez has been fun to watch so far. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Here in the land of the small September sample sizes, we judge players based on scant information. It is hard to get a true sense of a player’s abilities, and even harder to predict future outcomes, on such a small amount of information.
Which is why I’m not going to say Cesar Hernandez is the greatest lead-off hitter of all time.
But in his brief cup of coffee with the Phillies so far in 2013, Hernandez has been really good. He was also really good in the minors this year. Which leads me to think there’s a chance, a possibility, that he could be a pretty good Major League player.
But, like I said, we’re dealing in small sample sizes. So, let’s take everything we’re about to read here with a grain of salt.
After his 2 for 4 performance in the lead-off spot in last night’s 12-2 win over the Marlins, Hernandez is now hitting .310/.380/.366 in 79 plate appearances this year. And in the 453 PAs between AA and AAA this year (all but 13 of them at Lehigh Valley), Hernandez hit .314/.378/.406 with 13 2B, 9 3B and 33 stolen bases in 41 attempts.
Hernandez has especially excelled in the lead-off spot, hitting .342/.432/.421 with 5 walks and 10 strikeouts in 10 games out of the lead-off spot. Scott Butler for The Daily Gammons (a totally awesome new website, by the way), broke down some of Hernandez’ splits a couple days ago…
|Swing %||Contact %||SwStr %||Pitch/PA|
So, what do we see here?
Sep 11, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Cesar Hernandez (16) during an at bat during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Padres 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
As Butler noted in his piece, Hernandez’ ground ball-to-fly ball rate is what you want out of a guy without a lot of power. Hernandez’ best asset is his speed, so hitting the ball on the ground is what you want him to do. His line drive percentage, which can translate into extra-base hit potential, is also good. His strikeout and walk rates are right around league average, as are his swing percentage and contact percentage.
Of course, we are dealing with a VERY small sample size, so many of these numbers have to be taken with not so much a grain of salt, but a depot of it. But, the early returns are encouraging.
Hernandez has played both second base and center field for the Phils this year, giving Utley the occasional day off and filling in for Ben Revere on other days. Most scouts have pegged Hernandez as nothing more than a utility infielder at the Major League level, and it’s hard to argue with that assessment with just 79 MLB PAs under his belt. The fact that he has been pressed into service as an outfielder this year, after spending his entire minor league career at second base, proves he’s at least a little more versatile defensively than anyone thought.
But most believe he is not an every day center fielder. And certainly, with Utley re-signing for at least another two years, Hernandez isn’t going to be an every day second baseman for the Phillies anytime soon. And he doesn’t hit for enough power to be a corner outfielder.
So what do the Phils do with Hernandez? Do they try to include him in a trade of some sort this off-season? Do they make him their utility infielder/outfielder next year and try to trade Freddy Galvis? Do they try to trade Ben Revere?
Having a promising young player is a good problem to have, and it will be interesting to see just what the Phils do with him this off-season.