by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Philadelphia Phillies are clearly a team in transition, and they started the process of remaking their infield over the winter as they signed Carlos Santana to man first base and jettisoned Freddy Galvis to clear shortstop for J.P. Crawford… Of course you can argue that the Galvis deal could benefit Scott Kingery, as it gives the team more flexibility (potentially shifting Hernandez to shortstop or third base to clear second base). However you want to cut it, the pressure is on the veterans to produce or they are going to be left without a role.
Can Cesar Hernandez and/or Maikel Franco hold down a job all season long? Let’s take a look:
Once a much hyped prospect himself, Franco has disappointed upon reaching the Majors. He’s flashed at least a little power, but the average has regressed with each season:
- 2015 – .280
- 2016 – .255
- 2017 – .234
It hasn’t been a bloated strikeout rate (15.2% in ’17, 16.2% for his career), with last season being a poor line drive rate (17.9%) and inflated popup rate (16.3%) leading to a .234 BABIP. That may be extreme, but without speed the numbers aren’t going to lead to a strong BABIP (.260 for his career). Of course there’s also the risk of an increased strikeout rate, as he struggled to make consistent contact against breaking balls (18.15% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (21.21%), further muddying the waters.
While he’s shown good power, his 13.5% HR/FB from last season isn’t going to blow you away. Among qualified third baseman in ’17 there were 13 who hit 25+ HR, so barring a dramatic change he simply isn’t going to stand out. Without that, and with little upside in his average, he’s a low-end option and could conceivably lose his job by mid-year.
Odds of losing starting job – 50%
Hernandez has proven to be a decent, though unspectacular option. He’s shown a little growth in his power (9 HR in ’17), and pairs it with a little bit of stolen base potential (15-19 SB in each of the past three seasons) and a decent average (.284 for his career). That sounds… Decent, doesn’t it?
With little upside in the numbers, he doesn’t seem like much of an impediment to Kingery (whenever the team dubs him ready to arrive). That could push Hernandez into a utility role, which cripples his already minimal fantasy appeal.
Odds of losing starting job – 75%
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 02/20/18|