Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: With A Starting Job, Does Enrique Hernandez Become A Must Own?

5
2186

Expectations were for Enrique Hernandez to fill a super-utility role for the Dodgers in 2019, but that apparently isn’t in the plans.  Instead he’s going to be manning one position and one position only, as per J.P. Hoornstra of The Orange County Register (click here for the article):

Last year, he appeared at every position except catcher. Now he’ll only need his second baseman’s glove for the foreseeable future. In a professional career that began in 2009, Hernandez said, “I haven’t really had that.”

Chris Taylor will instead operate as a utility man.  While that hurts his potential appeal, fantasy owners have to ask themselves if full-time at bats for Hernandez creates a must own option.  There were two key developments in 2018 that are going to add to the perceived upside for 2019:

Plate Discipline
In 462 PA last season he showed an ability to contribute, hitting .256 with 21 HR, 52 RBI and 67 R.  Even better was an improvement in his strikeout rate (16.9%) while continuing to draw walks (10.8%).  Based on the improvement to make consistent contact, there’s a lot to like:

  • SwStr% – 8.6%
  • O-Swing% – 24.8%

There was an improvement across the board, with career best Whiff% against breaking balls (12.38%) and offspeed pitches (14.85%).  Maybe it was the increased playing time, as it was a career high in plate appearances in the Majors, but maintaining the improved marks would go a long way in him posting a strong season.

Power
For a long time it looked like Hernandez would be a virtual non-factor in terms of his power production, but then 2018 hit.  Of course he didn’t add many additional extra base hits (17 doubles, 3 triples) to go along with his 21 HR, though is there anything unreasonable in his 14.6% HR/FB?  At 27-years old, he’ll turn 28 in August, there’s reason to believe in the mark (and maybe even a small improvement).

That said he was putting more balls in the air (43.9%), though the mark was skewed towards the first half (49.2% to 37.1%).  His HR/FB also tumbled as the season wore on:

  • First Half – 17.6%
  • Second Half – 9.4%

While it’s promising that he wasn’t swinging for the fences, it also brings questions as to whether or not he can replicate last year’s success.

While the plate discipline is promising, he also struggled with popups (16.7%) and takes a pull heavy approach (21.6% Oppo%).  Those two things will help to suppress his average upside, especially if the power regresses, and without much speed that is going to bring question into his overall appeal.

Obviously bringing positional flexibility is going to help, but in terms of production we may be looking at a .250 hitter with 17-21 HR.  That brings value and he’s worth owning, but it also wouldn’t put him as a potentially elite option.

Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • 10 Team League – Worthy add (but not must add)
  • 12 Team League – Worthy add (more as Middle Infielder)
  • 14+ Team League – Must add
  • NL-Only League – Must add
  • Keeper/Dynasty – Must add

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, The Orange County Register

5 COMMENTS

    • Ugh it’s a tough group to value, because there’s a lot of uncertainty in the playing time.

      I’d probably rank them as you have them, though if I were more comfortable with Hampson holding a job all season long I’d put him at the top.

      • Thanks, Professor! Yeah, that’s kind of where I”m at. I have a feeling my bench is gonna’ see some churning the next couple of weeks.

        What if you throw Bird into this mix? Seems like the Yanks are gonna’ give him the 1B job, and he’s had a fine spring.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here