Marco Hernandez may be the answer for the Red Sox second base merry-go-round. Hernandez’s well-documented injuries may be behind him – for now.
I have a certain affinity for one baseball item of some notoriety and that is the player to be named later (PTBNL). The long historical consensus is that a PTBNL is a lower rung player that will have a mediocre career and pass on to oblivion such as David Ortiz, who was a PTBNL. The Red Sox Marco Hernandez is also a PTBNL as a result of a trade with the Chicago Cubs that sent lefty Felix Doubrount to the city with big shoulders.
No need to recount Hernandez’s history with the Red Sox except to say it is probably somewhere in the charts of orthopedic history with multiple shoulder injuries. One thing is certain and that is Hernandez can hit. This season it is .360 in just 50 plate appearances. In two previous seasons (2016-2017) Hernandez hit .284 in 116 plate appearances.
Hernandez – a former switch hitter – swats exclusively from the left side now and has hit .333 against lefties for his MLB career. If you want a downside do not expect Hernandez to display and plate patience with exactly zero walks for 2019 and just six for his three part-time seasons. Hernandez goes up to hack and does.
This season Hernandez has been sequestered at second base and his defense has finally been on the plus side with a 5.6 UZR/150. The sample is small – just 102 innings, but the trend will hopefully continue.
The Red Sox are on the cusp of some significant changes in their roster with one question mark being second base. Is Dustin Pedroia coming back? So far that looks remote. Other competition at second is free agents to be Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt – both will have salaries that exceed Hernandez’s. One or both may be gone.
Michael Chavis is also capable of playing a decent second base (2.0 UZR/150) and provides some real home run punch, but first base may be in Chavis’s future. Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce are part of the probably free-agent exodus and Chavis may be the first baseman 0 and beyond.
The path is open for Hernandez and the key to that path is to keep hitting while playing competent MLB defense at second. At this point, Hernandez is becoming a surprising hidden gem for now and the Red Sox future.