Hail Cesar! Hernandez Emerging at 2B
After taking two of three from the Yankees, the Phillies are now back home taking on the division-leading Washington Nationals.
22-year-old rookie phenom Maikel Franco carried the club in their first two games against the Yanks, racking up six hits in eight at-bats with three homers and an amazing 10 RBIs. It was a great showcase on baseball’s grandest, most storied stage.
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However, despite Franco’s performance, there is another player who could be more integral in this weekend’s series. That player is the new starting 2nd baseman, Cesar Hernandez.
With Chase Utley landing on the DL, the 25-year-old Hernandez is now being asked to step up and help solidify a shaky Phillies infield.
Shortly before Utley’s trip to the DL, Hernandez’s name was consistently being penciled into the Phillies’ starting lineup by former skipper Ryne Sandberg. That correlated for the most part to Utley’s poor performance (.138 BA in June), but Hernandez’s approach at the plate definitely had left a positive impression as well.
Jun 22, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA;
Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez (16) hits a two-run double against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dating back to June 10, Hernandez has a .300 batting average with four doubles, six RBIs, and a .378 on-base percentage. Hernandez’ ability to reach base is an attribute that should not be taken lightly. The Phillies as a team currently rank 29th in MLB in OBP at .292.
Hernandez leads Phils hitters who have at least 100 at-bats in OBP at .344, and has been the most disciplined by far, earning 19 walks in 132 at-bats. Utley leads the team in walks with 21, but Hernandez has nearly matched that total in 86 fewer at-bats.
The Phillies need base runners, especially in front of power threats Franco and Ryan Howard. 14 of the team’s 46 home runs have been solo shots, because players have failed to reach base.
That pattern has begun to change recently, as six of their last eight homers have come with men on base. If players like Ben Revere and Hernandez can reach base in front of these power bats, then the offense will reap the benefits. This showed in the first two games of the Yankees series.
Hernandez and company are being sternly tested by a Nationals rotation that threw 42 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings prior to last night’s final frame. During their recent hot stretch prior to Friday night, Nats starters allowed only eight walks and held opposing offenses to a .260 OBP.
For the Phillies to have success, players such as Hernandez will need to find ways to get on base to give the big bats opportunities with runners aboard. Franco, who has a .355 average with runners on base, should continue racking up RBI if Cesar Hernandez can continue to get on base in front of him.