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 Ryan Howard.
Name: Cesar Hernandez
Age: 26 in May
Experience: 227 games
What we saw in 2015For the first time in his career, Cesar Hernandez got a lot of playing time at the Major League level. Part of it was that he shocked everyone and outplayed Chase Utley. Part of it was the Phillies continuing their youth movement.
Hernandez responded by hitting .272/.339/.348 with 19 stolen bases and 25 extra-base hits. He ended up with a .9 WAR. Essentially, he was a replacement level player.
Hernandez has plenty of detractors among Phillies fans, particularly for his inability to hit for any power.
However, he does offer something. His speed, according to Fangraphs Speed Score, was elite. He was 18th among qualifying hitters. Hernandez also led the Phillies with an 8.9 percent walk rate.
As a guy who hit .294 in the minors, if he keeps that walk rate up and hits for a slightly better average than he did last year, he could provide some value to the team.
Important goals for 2016Extra-bases: We all know that Hernandez is never going to hit 10 homers in a season; so don't delude yourself in hoping that he finds an untapped power source. What we can hope for is that he improves his slugging percentage with his gap power. This is an area where Hernandez is better than Ben Revere, who seemed to hit only to center field. If Hernandez can get above 30 extra base hits on the season by hitting 25-27 doubles and adding five or six triples, he's going to see a higher OPS and provide more value to the team.
Limit the whiffs: The Phillies are likely to have a lot of high strikout guys. Hernandez could provide a change-up in the offense with an ability to make more contact. He whiffed 86 times in 127 games. If he can stay in the double digits even though he gets more at-bats in 2016, that's good for the team.
Use his wheels: Cesar doesn't need to steal 40 bases to terrorize pitchers this year. I saw him roll a routine grounder to second last year against the Nationals and almost beat it out. If he can use that speed to gain more infield hits, turn a handful of singles to doubles and a few doubles into triples, he'll get more attention from the pitcher and force them into more mistakes for the hitters after him.
AnalysisI'll get my bias out of the way early. I've liked Cesar Hernandez more than I should from the get-go. I like a good No. 2 hitter who makes contact, walks a bit, moves the runner, steals some bases and plays good defense. I've liked Cesar better than Freddy Galvis. He's a poor man's Placido Polanco.
That said, I'm still not sold he's the answer for the Phillies at second base when they make the move to contending team.
However, we're better off as fans watching him play 130-140 games at second this year as Scott Kingery makes his way through the minor leagues.