If there were such a thing as “process Phillies”; Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez are names that come to mind. These guys played in several rebuilding seasons and always were thought of as guys who could maybe contribute when the team got good again. Viewership was of course down in the dog days of the club’s rebuild – when Aaron Harang was in the rotation – but die-hard Phillies fans came to root for these guys.
Freddy Galvis of course was shipped off to the Padres for Enyel De Los Santos last season and is now with the Blue Jays. The other three will break camp with the team and all three will likely find themselves in the starting lineup.
All of these three have shown why they belong with the big league club. Hernandez – with the exception of last season – is a durable, versatile player who is a great table setter. Franco found himself on the verge of being cut last season but rebounded with 22 home runs and a team leading .270 average.
While both Franco and Hernandez are solid MLB regulars, I never quite viewed them as having the same upside that Odubel Herrera has. It’s honestly sort of crazy how much Odubel’s stock has fallen after one terrible season. The entire baseball world seems to have forgotten that his batting average peaked at .361 with an OBP of .431 just last year in late May. Lifetime, Herrera sports a batting average of .279 with an OBP of .336.
Now granted, evaluating players based on batting average is somewhat becoming a thing of the past. Odubel’s WRC+ hovers around league average and he finished last season with a career worst of 97. But hits still matter and the Phillies fell off the tracks when Odubel stopped producing them.
Quite frankly, the team just stopped hitting in the summer months and deadline acquisitions of Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilson Ramos didn’t really make a dent. The team’s struggles were far beyond Odubel Herrera, but they took a nosedive right when Odubel took a nose-dive; which is really the only way to describe Odubel’s numbers. He finished the season with an average of .255 and an OBP of .310, a far cry from his numbers to date at that point.
But does Odubel Herrera deserve to be written off completely? It sure seems like he has been, at least in general baseball circles, and I think that’s a travesty. When Herrera is at the peak of his game, he see’s lots of pitches and draws walks. His unorthodox stance makes it difficult for pitchers who haven’t faced him and he is mostly a a very patient hitter.
Now when he was under water last season, he was at Dom Brown levels of chasing garbage. But is it not possible that it was all mental? Herrera went from being a rule 5 selection to an All Star and arguably the team’s best all around hitter. He was a guy who you didn’t know what to expect out of then quickly became a hitter that teams built scouting reports around.
Clearly, that was too overwhelming for Odubel in 2018. If Herrera is your best all around hitter, the 2018 Phillies are a prime example of how that goes nowhere.
All of this is irrelevant, however, because Odubel Herrera is far from the 2019 team’s best hitter. In addition to adding Bryce Harper, the club has brought in three total previous season’s All Stars in Realmuto, Segura and Harper. The team also added Andrew McCutchen, who’s numbers suggest is in for a solid 2019 campaign.
Basically, Odubel Herrera has gone from a star to an afterthought. There was debate over whether he would even start on Opening Day and it seems as though many have outright given up on him. This makes no sense to me, because can you imagine what Odubel is going to be doing while setting the table for those four plus Hoskins?
Players like Herrera are at their most dangerous when they’re overlooked. If he can regain his patience at the plate, a batting average in the .280’s with an OBP of roughly .330 is going to provide immense value on this team. Before, he was getting on base and being stranded. The Phillies were in the bottom half of the league in regards to stranding runners and it showed. With a lineup this stacked, Odubel should be routinely setting the table even though he’s slated to bat sixth on Opening Day.
None of this is talked about though. Instead, the disrespect on Odubel Herrera’s name has reached a fever pitch. As if getting forgotten about in Philly wasn’t bad enough, the always fair to the 2019 SI preview included a quote from a rival scout that is sure to get you pumped up.
In quite possible the most boomer ramble I’ve ever heard, the scout refers to himself as an “old school guy who likes guys who run balls out and run off the field and are focused on playing the game the right way”. “From what I understand, it was a controversial signing internally, because none of their baseball people could stomach him, but Matt Klentak liked him because he’s a likable goofball kid. So they ended up putting cash in his pocket, and what they’ve gotten out of it is a fu***** dog who’s hurt more than he helped them”
Yup, this asshole basically walked right of the set of Moneyball.
It’s hard to believe that people like that still exist in the modern world of baseball. I’m no snowflake when it comes to words, but this rant revealed some deeply rooted hatred and was unprofessional to say the very least. As if Odubel doesn’t already have enough motivation to rebound, this douche has given yet another reason. How can you not be pumped up and cheering for Odubel after hearing that?
The city of Philadelphia needs to pick up El Torito – one of the only productive hitters the team had from 2015 until the emergence of Hoskins. He deserves it, and I believe he will bounce back this season.