Will the Phillies bring back their hits leader, or trade him for pitching?
Cesar Hernandez led the Phillies in total hits, improved his batting average .26 points from 2018, was top-five on the team in OBP, RBIs, and runs, AND managed to stay healthy for all 162 games.
However, ask any Philly fan how he performed this year, and I guarantee they’ll say he was below average.
Hernandez is a strange case when it comes to the Phillies roster. The best way I’ve found to describe him is simply “average.” He’s an average hitter, an average fielder, an average base-runner, he gets on base at an average rate, and even slugs at an average rate.
Without sounding too over the top, Hernandez just doesn’t have any redeemable traits that would make one consider him a “franchise” type second basemen.
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Hernandez slashed .279/.333/.408 in 2019 and knocked in 71 RBIs, 14 homers, and 31 doubles. He also walked 45 times (his lowest since 2015) and stole just nine bases, a career low since being named a starter.
When it comes to WAR rankings, Hernandez slots in as the 116th ranked offensive player in the MLB and the 40th ranked defensive player in the MLB. As I stated before, nothing about those numbers should be considered eye-popping.
The Venezuelan born infielder riled up fans with more than just his performances at the plate or in the field. Time and time again Hernandez’ overall lack of focus was put on display. Whether it was not husting on the base paths, misplaying simple ground balls (tied his career high in errors with 12 this season), or laughing it up with rival players, the fans frustration grew with Hernandez exponentially as the season progressed.
Hernandez just finished up his seventh year with the Phillies, and is now due for arbitration. With that being the case, it’s obvious that a decision regarding his future in Philadelphia needs to be made. A veteran who can hit and field at an average pace could legitimately garner some value on the trade market, and seeing as the Phillies are desperate for a boost to their pitching staff, it would make sense to explore a move for the 29-year-old.
Throw in the fact that the Phillies have an up-and-coming replacement waiting in the wings (Scott Kingery), the likelihood for Hernandez to be dealt increases greatly.
Hernandez is a lot of things, a bad baseball player is not one of them. His 2019 numbers are comparable to most other average/slightly above average second basemen around the league, and he even received a healthy amount of All-Star votes this season.
With that said, he embodies a version of the Phillies that we as a franchise are quickly trying to forget. He was a cornerstone piece to a failed rebuild, one that they are just now trying to fix by spending away in free agency.
Moving on from him now, while he still has some value, is the best possible move heading into 2020.