Phillies: Odubel Herrera is centerpiece, “language barrier” or not

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Jun 6, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera (37) makes a jumping catch of a ball hit by Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) (not shown) during the eighth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera (37) makes a jumping catch of a ball hit by Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) (not shown) during the eighth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Whether or not there is a “language barrier” between the Phillies and Odubel Herrera, he is the centerpiece this team needs.

Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt stepped in some hot water Tuesday saying that Odubel Herrera couldn’t be a centerpiece for the team because of a “language barrier.” Since Herrera was born in Venezuela and his first language is Spanish, Schmidt feels that Herrera can’t communicate with the team and be a leader in the clubhouse.

Whether or not Herrera can speak English as well as an American doesn’t matter. What matters about being a centerpiece is being a player that the team’s success carries on. Philadelphia has that in Herrera.

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The team is on a four-game winning streak, the longest since winning six straight between April 20-27. After a May where the Phils went 6-22, seeing them jump out to a hot start in June is a positive sign for the team.

Herrera has played no small part in this recent winning streak. All nine of his hits in these last four games have gone for extra bases, two of which were home runs. Herrera has struck out just four times in his last 26 plate appearances.

Seeing Herrera perform well is rubbing off on his teammates. Tommy Joseph told Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he recognizes how much better the offense is when Herrera is doing well:

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"“It’s been pretty awesome to watch,” Tommy Joseph said. “Any time he swings the stick, it’s a barrell. Good for him. Get him going, a guy at the top of the order that can do so much offensively is a good weapon to have. It’s good when he gets going like this.”"

In 21 wins Herrera played in this season, he has a .299/.330/.552 line with 16 RBI. He has 18 strikeouts in 91 plate appearances during those games.

Meanwhile, Herrera has a .203/.250/301 line in 33 losses he played in this season. He has a 26.5% strikeout rate in those losses.

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Herrera has surged during the team’s wins and struggled during the losses. As he goes, so does the club. A centerpiece is a player whose success carries the team to victory, as is the case with Herrera. Language barrier be damned.

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