With Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings underway, the hot stove has been heating up. While Phillies fans are waiting with baited breath for news of a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper signing, some interesting news broke today. Apparently second baseman César Hernández played an extended portion of last season – perhaps the entire second half of the 2018 season – with a broken foot.
So it turns out that Cesar Hernandez played through a broken foot for most of the second half of the season after he fouled off a pitch in July. Klentak said he didn't need surgery after the season and that it healed properly on its own. #Phillies
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) December 11, 2018
A broken foot could absolutely explain the difference in Hernández’s first and second half splits:
While César’s home run and RBI totals were virtually identical, the drastic decline in doubles and triples was staggering. Assuming the injury happened about halfway through the season, you have to give props to Hernández for sticking it out and only missing one game. I am a bit surprised that Gabe Kapler and his sports science folks were in line with playing a guy while he was clearly injured, especially when Scott Kingery – who had his fair share of struggles – only started 37 of the 56 games he played in during the second half of the season. Perhaps this injury could/should have paved the way for Kingery to take over at second base, the position which he moved up through the Phillies’ minor league system playing. Doing so could have allowed him to focus on his task at the plate.
For those hoping a spot could be opened up for Kingery via a trade, don’t hold your breath:
#Phillies not inclined to trade Cesar Hernandez. He played on a broken foot in the second half and team believes now that the foot has healed he will return to 2016-17 production. Scott Kingery looks like he will enter next season in super utility role.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) December 11, 2018
As @Ken_Rosenthal writes here about the #Reds and Scooter Gennett, I’m hearing the #Phillies are having the same issues in dangling their 2B, Cesar Hernandez. So many 2B on the free agent market. More likely now that they hold onto him. https://t.co/QVjV2U1y5e
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 10, 2018
My question remains the same as it did last season: If you know what you’re getting with Hernández, why not roll the dice on Kingery starting the season at second with César serving as the super utility guy? If Kingery doesn’t earn the spot in spring training, go back to your trusted vet. It’s still early in the off-season and there’s still plenty to be done.