Odubel Herrera is producing like an MVP candidate for the Phillies
Odubel Herrera has come a long way from being benched on opening day by Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. He’s compiled a 41-game on-base streak and is currently on a five-game home run streak, all while leading the Phillies in home runs, batting average, and hits.
Herrera’s season is trending towards historic, as it mirrors what Phillies all-time hits leader Jimmy Rollins accomplished in his 2007 MVP season.
Rollins had an incredible 2007 season after dubbing the Phillies “the team to beat,” and led the league in hits, runs, and triples while hitting 30 home runs and stealing 41 bases.
While Herrera isn’t putting together that kind of speed on the bases, although he absolutely could if given the opportunity, the rest of his numbers are falling into line with Rollins prior to the all-star break.
Through his first 71 games this year Herrera is batting .308 with 85 hits, 14 doubles, 13 home runs, and 43 RBI.
Through Rollins’ first 71 games in 2007, he hit .278 with 86 hits, 16 doubles, 13 home runs, and 43 RBI.
Rollins had 10 more stolen bases and eight more triples than Herrera at this point of the season, but the game has evolved so much since then. Herrera’s on-base percentage is almost 40 points higher, and his slugging percentage is only eight points lower than Rollins.
Does this mean Herrera could turn 2018 into a legitimate MVP campaign? Given the history of voters, it’s unlikely despite the precedent set by Rollins 11 years ago.
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The last three hitters to win the National League MVP have hit no fewer than 39 home runs, and two of them, Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper, led the league in home runs. It’s a power-driven game and award, and Herrera only projects to hit 28 home runs, well beyond his career-high of 15.
Andrew McCutchen is the last National League player to win the MVP without hitting 30 home runs when he had just 21 in 2013. McCutchen had a WAR of 7.9, while Herrera’s 2.0 WAR is 12th among National League hitters, well behind MVP front-runner Freddie Freeman.
If historical precedent tells us anything it’s that Herrera should at least receive consideration for the MVP if he continues on this track of consistent hitting. If he strings together another long on-base streak and pushes his on-base percentage and WAR up, then perhaps he garners more attention around baseball.