Phillies 2018 season preview: Second baseman Cesar Hernandez

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Wilmer Difo
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Wilmer Difo /
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How much can Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez contribute in 2018?

Turning 28-years-old on May 23, Cesar Hernandez is entering what is typical the prime of a baseball career. The Phillies lead off man has made great strides since entering the Major Leagues as a 23-year old in 2013. Should Hernandez continue his ascent, he could be on the cusp of an All-Star appearance.

Hernandez has a solid .289 career batting average and .357 on-base percentage, which is paramount as a lead off hitter. He set a career-high nine home runs and 41 extra-base hits in 511 at-bats last season.

Before looking forward, I take a look back at how far Hernandez has come, particularly in terms of extra base power. In 2013-2014 combined, Hernandez had only seven doubles and one home run in 235 at-bats.

While hitting only a single home run in 2015, Hernandez had 20 doubles. On the bases, he displayed some speed and timely base stealing, recording 19 stolen bases in 24 attempts.

CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Cesar Hernandez
CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Cesar Hernandez /

Hernandez lead the league in triples in 2016 and had six home runs, but was only 17-for-30 in stolen base attempts.

What leads me to believe Hernandez is on the verge of an All-Star berth is that he is hovering near .300 and a .373 on-base percentage, within reach of the .400 plateau. On top of that he is nearing double-digit home run power and 20-plus stolen bases per year.  He’s not the best defensive second baseman, but Hernandez has held is own, around the league average in range factor and fielding percentage.

So how does this translate for the 2018 season?  With a solid core lineup behind him in Aaron Altherr, Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana with hopefully an improved Maikel Franco and emergence of Jorge Alfaro, Hernandez could reach the 100 run scored plateau.

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While base stealing isn’t as prevalent as in the past, 20 to 25 stolen bases should be attainable at an 80 percent rate. Hernandez will hit at the top of the order and play almost every day, so I see him reaching career highs in nearly every major statistical category.  Hernandez played in 23 fewer games last season than in 2016 and still had 18 more runs scored, ten more extra base hits and three more home runs.

Assuming he can stay healthy and play in 150 or more games, I see a .300 average with 100 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs, 50 RBI and 20 stolen bases all within reach.

Next: Phillies: Top Five Second Basemen in Franchise History

Cesar Hernandez in the upper tier of overall offensive second baseman in the National League. and also put him in the conversation for All-Star status in 2019. A productive 2018 for the Phillies lead off hitter bodes well for them in their attempts to get back into contention.

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