The Man Without a Position

On November 2, 2017, still reeling from a World Series loss, I wrote this:

Kike Hernandez is looked at as a “super utilityman” because he can play anywhere… especially SS, but a lot of people are dismissive of his offense.  Me? I think there is a possibility that he could be a huge offensive force in the future. Quit laughing and listen to this:

Through age 25, JD Martinez was a utility player who hit a grand total of 24 HR in 899 at-bats. At age 25, Kike Hernandez has accumulated 28 HR in 836 AB’s.  At age 26 Martinez worked on transforming his swing much like Justin Turner, Jose Bautisa and Chris Taylor have and grew into the player he is today.  The Dodgers could go out and sign JD Martinez or they could let Kike Hernandez grow into a player like JD. I am not saying that he will… but he could!  You have to at least consider it.

Kike Hernandez is the Dodgers “Swiss Army Knife” as he can play just about anywhere.  He plays 7 of the 9 positions adeptly and he is the emergency catcher.  He can likely throw 95+ MPH so I think there will be a game where he plays all 9 positions at some juncture.  But, can he hit RH pitching?  It’s no secret that he owns left-handers, hitting .270 against Lefties last year with a .367 OB% and a .946 OPS. He hit 10 HR against LH pitching in 152 at-bats.

He also hit an anemic .159 against RH Pitching.  That is a big problem… if it continues.  So far, this Spring, it hasn’t! It’s a small sampling, but in Spring Training THIS year, Kike has hit all three of his HR against RH Pitchers and is OPS’ing over 1.300.  If he keeps that up, Kike has to be an “Everyday Utilityman,” meaning he will play just about everyday at a different position. Kike got 297 AB’s last year. 400 to 500 would not be out of the question this year. If he gets 500 AB’s he will hit 25-30 HR.  It all depends upon how he hits RH pitching.

Kike has immense power and power to the opposite field.  As I sdaid, he is capable of hitting 30 HR if he can hit RHP. Last night. he his a homerun and a double off of the Rockies fireballing-ace, Jon Gray.  That is certainly reason for optimism. Kike Hernandez could be one of the most important cogs in the Dodger Machine.  With the lineup stacked with power from top to bottom, maybe it’s time to dust off that old moniker – The Big Blue Werecking Crew! I think it’s time!

Dodger Notes

  • How do they keep Kyle Farmer off the team? 10 hits in 20 AB’s 3 HR 9 RBI 1.677 OPS!
  • Edwin Rios is hitting .409 but has struck out 10 times in 22 AB and walked just once.  He has some work to do.
  • El Gasolino looked better last night, even if the defense let him down.
  • I thought Ross Stripling struggled with hnbis control but did OK last night.

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 27 Comments

  1. I am thinking Kiké could breakout given the opportunity. I would give him regular duty at different positions against all pitching. Farmer should make the roster as he can flat out hit. His defense is something he has targeted through fitness. Put Barnes on dL until he is ready. Baez is in. Stripling is just a cheap versatile pitcher who crumbled when needed the most.

  2. Aren’t you a bit concerned that when Kike hits 30 home-runs, he’s gonna steal the MVP from Kemp?

    1. he’s fine for what he is. the concern is that peter is ready and better. but chase dabbles in the dark arts and is thus untouchable.

  3. You guys really ready to say good bye to Mr. Utley? When he’s gone no more classic rock walk up music. Seriously guys, that will be an end to an era.

    1. Joc was asking people to pick his walk up song on Twitter. My response was ask Chase because he was the only player on the team with a good one.

  4. Like his first year with the Dodgers hit the ball to RCF vs righties. The last two years he pulled off of everything from righties and couldn’t touch anything other than a fastball middle to inside.
    ~
    Despite his strong arm. SS is not a position I want to see him at much.
    ~
    He deserves the opening day start in LF.

  5. If memory serves, I believe that towards the end of last year, Kike’ began to taking pitches to right field often than in the past. And it looks as though he’s carried that into this year. It may well be that he’s maturing as a hitter. In any case, he should find plenty of work this year, especially if he continues to progress against RH pitching. And with him, Toles, etc., what better insurance could the Dodgers have if Kemp doesn’t work out, or if Kemp does well and becomes attractive to another team? Nothing better than depth.

    Not watching the game, but what happened to Rich Hill in the 1st inning today?

    1. If Kike’ can avoid swinging at low and away sliders from righties like Puig learned to do last year, he could easily follow Puig’s performance. The TV crew said that is what he and Ward are working on and so far, so good. He is a much better defender in LF than Kemp and plays most other positions.

  6. i’ll be honest. it feels like we didn’t do anything wrong last year. we could just close the deal. that’s part of the reason why this spring just isn’t that interesting. so many things went right in 2017. I don’t blame the front office for going to war with the same army this time around. a few new heroes will be welcome though.

  7. Is Kike’s issue hitting righties due to a hole in his swing or a pitching pattern? Kemp and Puig have both been susceptible to sliders that start on the outer part of the plate and they would get themselves out. Pitchers used that pattern until they stopped chasing or went the other way with it. IMO we’ll know Kemp is similar to his old self when he rips the ball consistently to right-center.

    1. Kike’s Problem has been that he’s pull happy. His front shoulder would fly way open. His bat couldn’t cover anything outside the middle of the plate. He couldn’t stay on a fastball away or a curve ball from a righty.

      1. Hawkeye

        It looked like Kike’, was going the other way, in the post season last year, even after, his three HR game.

        But I know it takes more then just a few games, to learn to hit like that.

        But he has seemed to learn a lot, from that bad second year he had.

        And it looks like he has turned that around, so I give him props, for trying to always get better.

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