This Phillies season has ended and it’s time for grades. Cesar Hernandez has improved into a solid lead off hitter in his third season as starter.
The Phillies concluded a disappointing 2017 campaign with an 11-0 win over the Mets to finish at 66-96 for the season. There are promising signs moving forward, after a nearly .500 second half record and solid core moving forward. One of those is second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who has become a legitimate lead off hitter in his third season as starter.
Looking back to his first season as a starter in 2015, Hernandez hit .272 with 19 stolen bases, but has just a single home run and an OPS of .687. His production increase last year to six home runs, a .294 average and .764 OPS. Defensively, Hernandez had a solid .984 fielding percentage in 2015 and .981 last season.
This season, Cesar Hernandez started very strong with a .323 average and four home runs in April. Struggling in May, Hernandez hit only .245 with a higher on-base percentage (.314) than slugging percentage (.309).
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He was out from June 10 through July 16 due to injury, but played well upon returning, hitting .333 with a .903 OPS in the final 13 games of July. Remaining solid through August and September, Hernandez hit nearly .300 with an OPS over .800.
All told, Hernandez led the Phillies regulars with a .294 batting average. He also lead in runs scored, hits, walks and stolen bases. In the field, Hernandez maintained a solid .981 fielding percentage.
Hernandez set career highs in runs, doubles, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. If Hernandez wouldn’t have missed a month of the season, his production could have elevated him into the A- range. Nevertheless, his best MLB season thus far has earned him a B+ grade for 2017.
Hernandez’s strong performance this year has certainly added to his resume as one of the better leadoff hitters in baseball. However, will that be here in Philadelphia or with another team?
The infield situation is quite complicated with four different players vying for three spots with a fifth on the way in Scott Kingery. Hernandez easily has the most trade value of any of these five, so a trade to another team may be likely. He could be the key piece in a trade that leads to the Phils bringing in some desperately-needed rotation help.