Phillies 2019 season preview: Second baseman Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez had a down year in 2018, spending the second half of the season injured. Can he bounce back for the Phillies playoff run this year?
Between the excitement of the offseason and missing a significant part of camp, little has been said about Cesar Hernandez during Phillies spring training this year. Despite that, his potential bounceback is one of the more interesting unheralded storylines of this season.
It’s easy to put Hernandez on the backburner after his 2018 season. He finished the year with a .253/.356/.362 line, 94 OPS+, and 1.4 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement, well below his numbers from the previous two years. Hernandez set career highs in home runs (15), runs batted in (60) and runs scored (91), but his overall offensive production was still weaker than it has been.
The team confirmed after the season that Hernandez played the second half of the year with a broken foot. His first half numbers (.270/.378/.382, 113 OPS+) were significantly better than in the second half (.228/.324/.333, 83 OPS+), which coincides with the idea that Hernandez was injured. His line still wasn’t quite up to where it was in 2017 even in the first half, but he was still an above-average hitter.
Hernandez also saw a notable decline in his defense. He was worth -1.0 defensive wins above replacement in 2018 after being positive in the last two years. Hernandez went from -2 defensive runs saved in 2017 to -12 in 2018 and a 3.3 UZR/150 to -3.3. This decline could also be attributed to his broken foot.
Can Hernandez bounce back from his down season and return to prominence in the Phillies lineup?