Is Odubel Herrera Running Out of Time to Prove He Can Rebound?

PHOTO CREDIT: JAY BIGGERSTAFF-USA TODAY SPORTS

I’ve always been a big Odubel Herrera guy. Those of you that read the site know that I’m staunch supporter of his and that I like to twist the knife whenever he produces a high-effort play that contrasts with what I feel is an overblown narrative in this city about his lack of hustle. I’ve also long defended his occasional lapses in concentration, quickly pointing out how his production and value are more than enough to offset the occasional blunder. So when stuff like this happens:

I typically give him the benefit of the doubt. But I gotta say, as much as it’s a painful blow to my contrarian beliefs, I’m struggling right now. I’m struggling because the production just isn’t there, and, if we’re being honest, it hasn’t been for a year now. I don’t mean that in an exaggerated sense either. It’s been a literal calendar year of underwhelming results.

Let’s rewind it back to May 21, 2018. Herrera collected two hits in a 3-0 win that helped move the Phillies to 27-18. He left the park that day hitting .348 with a .956 OPS and seemed headed for a surefire National League All-Star selection. That didn’t happen. He hit only .216 over his following 209 plate appearances leading up to the break and was rightfully left out.

He briefly regained his footing in July before flaming out in August and September, finishing the year with a disappointing .255 average and .730 OPS. No doubt, Herrera wasn’t the only Phillie to struggle down the stretch, and there had been a multi-season body of quality production to reasonably believe he could bounce back this season, particularly with reduced pressure at the bottom of a much improved lineup. That, too, didn’t happen—or it hasn’t yet.

He enters tonight’s game with the Cubs hitting only .225 with a .638 OPS that is substantially lower than his career .757 OPS.  Interestingly, his strikeout and walk rates aren’t wildly different than his career norms, and, in fact, he’s swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strike than he did over the previous two season. Still, his on-base and power numbers are each significantly down through his first 111 plate appearances this season as is his production against both fastballs and changeups.

According to FanGraphs, his .689 career OPS against changeups is down to .369 this season – more than 300 points -and his .772 OPS against four-seam fastballs is down to .644. His pull contact is up by about 10 percent, and to me, these numbers would seem to indicate the work of a hitter who’s simply not trusting himself and one who’s also guessing too much. If this were merely a 33-game sample, again, I’d say no big deal, but again, it’s been a year now.

Go back to this date a year ago and he’s 110 for 501 (.220) with a .271 on base percentage. That’s bad. When you break down his OPS by month, beginning with last August, it gets uglier and provides more context to his prolonged struggles.

  • August 2018: .576 OPS
  • September 2018: .480 OPS
  • March/April 2019: .700 OPS
  • May 2019: .558 OPS

That’s three out of four months where Herrera has failed to eclipse a .600 OPS, nearing the territory of indefensible, and 539 plate appearances over a year doesn’t exactly warrant a small sample size qualifier. If this were the 2015-2018 Phillies, I’d say there’s more than enough talent in his 27-year-old body to let this thing play out, but if he doesn’t get back on track – and soon – the Phillies will have to decide how much longer they can afford to roll with the status quo.

Is Scott Kingery the answer? Maybe. Gabe Kapler has expressed confidence in his ability to provide plus-defense at any position, but you would suspect the Phillies envision Kingery as a long-term infield solution. Plus, with Maikel Franco hitting .189 with 0 homers over his last 20 games, they have to be getting a bit impatient at third base, too. As versatile as Kingery may be, he can’t simultaneously play both spots.

Herrera can get hot – very hot – and we’ve seen it happen before, but with the trade deadline approaching in the distance for a team that looks poised to truly compete right now, he may be running out of shots to prove that it can happen again.

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8 Comments

  • Domonic Brown May 21, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I’ll put a good word in for with the GM of Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos of the Mexican League. We could use some outfield depth on our roster.

    Reply
  • Dear Wanks: May 21, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Has P.U.TO. Kinkead been disciplined internally for his discriminatory and racist tweets at his former employer CH 3? Why was he fired ?

    Reply
    • QUIT HUFFING AND START MAKING SENSE May 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      If kinker even made racist tweets at his old job and was fired for it, why would
      Kyle Scott discipline him for it H-E-R-E?
      What’s he going to do whup him with a belt?

      Reply
  • MM May 21, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    We are 47 games into the season, O’dummy is living up to his contract numbers he’s just the dumbest player on the team, he’s a decent 4-5 outfielder. He’s paid correctly. There are well over 100 games to go. STFU… worry about something else.

    Reply
  • Rowhome May 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Didn’t Hillary refer to blacks and “super predators “? Didn’t she vow to keep weed illegal at a big pharma convention? Didn’t Trump say that he will legalize weed on a federal level and reform the prison system ? Funny, cnn never mentions this?

    Reply
  • Eric Bischoff May 21, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Buff was a little bit like Disco [Inferno] in some respects. He never knew when to shut up or back off. He was just kind of relentless, and I don’t disagree with Scott’s assessment of him being obsessed with his grooming habits. I mean, look at him when you see him on this show. There’s a backstage segment where he shows up, and it’s almost to the point of ridiculous. He was metrosexual before anybody knew what that meant. And he still is by the way. I ran into him over WrestleMania Weekend at the hotel. And although he looks significantly older, he’s still — every hair is in place. He’s got his neckline trimmed into this weird shape. He’s just obsessed with it. I guess that was his gimmick. He believed it would work for him. He did have a great physique. There’s no question about that. I don’t think that in and of itself necessarily catapulted him to the top of the roster, but in his mind it did because he was obsessed with that as well. But I can honestly understand. Scott Steiner, he had a short fuse. He had a low tolerance for nonsense, and Bagwell was full of s*** most of the time and didn’t know when to stop.

    Reply
  • Transitioning Flair May 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    – Charlotte Flair took to Twitter and commented on the new WWE 24/7 Title, which is currently held by R-Truth.

    Flair wrote, “Charlotte: Every title is 24/7 if you have the right last name. #247Title”

    Reply
    • Roger Waters May 21, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      FUCK CHARLOTTE FLAIR!

      Reply

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