Herrera Hitting Stride Since the Break


With the departure of Ben Revere in last week’s trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, new everyday center fielder Odubel Herrera might just be the best all-around outfield bat that the Phillies have in their lineup.

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The Phillies’ offense since the MLB All-Star break has been one of the hottest in baseball. Their 80 runs scored over these last few weeks ranks 4th in the National League, while their .289 team batting average is the highest mark in the league in that time.

Herrera has been a big part of this recent surge. Since the break, the 23-year-old has been arguably the best center fielder in the National League. He is batting .372 (1st in NL) with a .413 OBP (2nd in NL) and a .994 OPS (2nd in NL) in 43 at-bats over that period.

The Rule 5 draft pick is having himself quite the season at the Major League level. With this recent hot streak, Herrera is now batting .283 with 5 home runs and 29 RBIs on the year. His 30 extra-base hits rank third on the team behind only Ryan Howard (41) and Maikel Franco (32), and with Revere gone, his .283 average leads the club.

In Revere’s absence, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has been rotating Cesar Hernandez and Herrera at the top of the Phillies’ lineup. Herrera has found success in the lead off spot this season, batting .292 with a .318 OBP in 82 at-bats. He hasn’t been too shabby from the two-hole either, posting a slash line of .302/.327/.438 in 96 at-bats there.

Herrera’s success can be attributed to increased patience at the plate. His 3.96 pitches per plate appearance ranks 4th in the National League among center fielders with 90 or more games played. That mark has increased since the MLB All-Star break, as he has averaged 4.07 pitches per plate appearance.

Herrera’s ability to hit to all fields is another contributor to his success. According to FanGraphs, Herrera has hit the ball consistently to all fields, hitting the ball to center field 31.5 percent of the time and hitting the ball the opposite way 32.3 percent of the time.

In the series opener against the Dodgers, Herrera knocked in the first run of the game with a bullet down the right-field line that landed just fair, which scored Hernandez from first. He later had an excellent at-bat against Dodgers starter Alex Wood in which he forced a 3-2 count and walked, loading the bases for Maikel Franco, who would hit his first career grand slam.

After forcing the walk, Herrera displayed his fiery, competitive attitude as he hopped down the first base line, seemingly trying to pump up Franco. In last night’s narrow defeat he batted in that 2-hole, going 1-3 with a walk and scoring another run. The 23-year-old is playing with plenty of passion, and more importantly, confidence.

Before the 2015 season began, the Phillies believed that Herrera could develop into a special player when they switched him to the outfield for the first time in his career. Through 94 games played this season, Herrera has shown signs of living up to that potential, and could play himself into a key role on the next contending Phillies ball club.