As we move toward the 2016 season, let us take a look at each player on the roster and what a reasonably successful season would look like. We started with Aaron Nola. Our most recent entry was Maikel Franco.
PlayerName: Odubel Herrera
Age: Will be 24 in April
Experience: 147 games
What we saw in 2015
Odubel Herrera was a revelation in 2015 and one of Ruben Amaro's shrewdest moves during his final season as General Manager.
Plucked from the Texas Rangers farm system, Herrera batted an astounding .297/.344/.418 in his first taste of Major League ball. He swiped 16 bases and slapped 41 extra-base hits. He ended up with a 3.8 WAR.
Herrera was exciting and frustrating to watch defensively. Despite it being his first year in the outfield, he graded out as a plus defender, according to most metrics.
Herrera has two goals in 2016. The first, and most important, is that he prove he wasn't a fluke performer offensively.
The second depends on what position he plays. There have been reports the Phillies might take a look at him in his old position. That's probably because they're developing some outfield depth in the minors.
Important goals for 2016Slash line: Herrera could take a slight dip in production and still be moving forward career wise, but he needs to avoid a major drop off. If Herrera's batting average on balls in play drops from a high .387 to, say .360, but he cuts his strikeouts down from 24 percent to 22 or even 21 percent the team could get decent output from Herrera. He could end up with something like a .285/.340/.410. I think the Phillies would take that.
Strikeout-to-walk ratio: Herrera struck out 129 times against 28 walks. For a guy who is not going to hit 20 homers while being a stolen base threat, he needs to bring those numbers a bit closer together. It's doubtful Herrera would cut that strikeout number a ton. As we said, it would be nice to see his strikeout rate cut to about 22 percent. So say he gets 540 plate appearances, a slight uptick from 2015, he would end up with 118 Ks. His likeliest way to improve his strikeout-to-walk rate (4.6 walks per strikeout in 2015) would be to improve his walks a bit and get on-base more. He walked in 5.2 percent of his at-bats. Say he improves that walk rate to 7, he'd have 38 walks. If he finds away to pull those two numbers off, his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 3.1. That's a monumental improvement.
Base running: Yes, stolen bases are only a part of baserunning, but they're a measurable part. Herrera is supposed to work with coach Mickey Morandini on his technique.
Herrera stole 16 bases against eight times caught in 2015. If they can improve that, he's going to be a valuable weapon on the bases for the Phils. A 40-steal threat is probably out of the question, but 20-plus steals should be expected. And a better rate, too.
That weapon would help get more fastballs fed to the batters behind him.
One of the biggest positives for Herrera going into 2016 is how he played in he second half. After the league had already seen him, he hit .329/.394/.440. His walk rate more than doubled in the second half. The only bad thing in the second half was that his extra-base hit production did drop, going from 8.6 percent to slightly better than 6 percent in the second half.
So, it's probably a reasonable expectation that if Herrera stays healthy he can contribute 3 or 4 WAR season for the Phils.