Cesar Hernandez finding his swing
Cesar Hernandez has been the weakest link in the Phillies lineup so far this season. He has the lowest batting average (.194), on-base percentage (.268), slugging percentage (.278), and weighted on-base average (.243) of all the players in the starting lineup.
Hernandez, like Realmuto, is not striking out that often with a 14.6% strikeout rate. His walk rate is the lowest it has been since 2015, which has helped fuel the issue.
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Surprisingly, Hernandez has struggled despite having a batted ball profile similar to his successful 2016 and 2017 seasons. He is hitting line drives 25.8% of the time, which ranks 23rd among qualified NL hitters so far this year. The key difference is that Hernandez has a .226 batting average on balls in play this year while he had a BABIP north of .350 in 2016 and 2017.
Hernandez has brought his swing plane closer in line to where it was before last year. Hernandez had an average launch angle of 3.3 degrees in 2017 and 9.4 degrees in 2018. This season, he has a 5.2-degree launch angle, slightly more than where it was in 2017 but still well lower than last year.
Hernandez has an even larger gap between his expected actual and expected numbers than Realmuto. Hernandez has an expected batting average of .284, expected slugging percentage of .424, and expected weighted on-base average of .338. Hernandez’s expected weighted on-base average from contact is even higher at .358.
Like Realmuto, Hernandez has run into some hard luck at the plate. Manager Gabe Kapler has shown patience in Hernandez and kept him in the lineup despite his struggles. Eventually, possibly as soon as this weekend, Hernandez will reward him for him that patience.