Forget Platoons – Enrique Hernandez Deserves to Play Every Day

When Justin Turner was sent down to the disabled list for the start of the 2018 campaign, Enrique Hernandez surely sat up and recognized this as his chance to break into the Dodgers’ lineup as an everyday starter.

Although Turner won’t be needing surgery for his fractured wrist (due to being hit by Oakland starting pitcher Kendall Graveman), he will be out of action for at least a month. The Dodgers have long preached about being a team of depth, and once again, that theory is being put to the test. They’ve got a variety of ways to move their blue pieces around and still field a division champion-caliber team. Players involved in switches could be Enrique Hernandez, Chase Utley, Logan Forsythe, Chris Taylor and Kyle Farmer.

Initial comments from the Dodgers indicate Taylor will remain as the everyday center fielder, Forsythe will shift from second to third base, and Kike and Utley will platoon at second. Sure, that’s the conventional, by the numbers way to handle things – but then again, living by that conventional, by the numbers bible is one of the reasons the Dodgers came up a game short in the World Series.

They really should consider taking off their “stats run everything” hats, and consider giving Kike the job as the starting second baseman right from the get go, and leaving him there until he shows that he can’t handle playing every day – or he rewards their confidence in him with the solid kind of season that he believes (as do I) he can deliver.

Hernandez has declared that he doesn’t consider himself to be a platoon-level player anymore, and he wants a job as an everyday starter. Those are big words, but Kike worked hard over the offseason to be able to back them up, and so far, he’s doing a bang up job in Spring Training. His ST slash line is  .282/.404/.641/1.045. He’s putting up equally impressive numbers against RH pitchers: .310/.459/.724/1.184.

The Dodgers want to platoon him with Utley because they say Chase hits righties better. Let’s see how that’s panned out over the spring. Utley ST overall: .216/.275/.351/.626, and vs RH pitching: .233/.303/.400/.703. Kike is crushing these numbers.

Tell me again why Utley should be starting over Hernandez against RH pitching?

As far as defensive prowess between the two, I have to give the edge to Hernandez. He played 30 innings at second last season, but he played so few innings there because he played seven positions across 800 innings. The only thing he didn’t do was pitch or catch. In comparison, Utley only played first or second base in just over 650 innings. Hernandez clearly has the physical abilities to man the middle over the long haul.

Finally, there are the intangibles. Kike is the type of player who excels in the spotlight, and when the team’s fortunes are on the line. Sure, Utley has had his big moments, but when was the last one? Hernandez came up huge in the postseason last year, while Utley just looked tired and spent – and he’s now another year older and slower.

Enrique Hernandez has worked up to this moment all his life. He’s prepared himself to be an everyday player in the big leagues, and has shown consistent improvement toward that goal. He’s earned this shot, and the Dodgers would do well by giving it to him.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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53 thoughts on “Forget Platoons – Enrique Hernandez Deserves to Play Every Day

  1. I disagree totally. I do not think and have never considered him an everyday player….he has too much value as a scrub and I do not think his batting approach is that of a guy in the order everyday….and he has more errors as an infielder than he does in the outfield….

    1. Since this is a temporary situation, Kike deserves the shot at 2B. He has played extremely well in ST. It will also be good for his continued development and the confidence that Roberts has in him.

      1. The guy has proved nothing. He is adequate as a defender, but he has not hit right handed pithing worth a damn and as we all know, spring training means nothing. His batting average over the last 2 years is right on the Mendoza line. FAZ and Roberts love the guy, but his value is and always will be in his ability to play multiple positions. He is not an everyday guy.

  2. Sorry Oscar, you have been drinking too much of the beer that you show brewing on occasion. No way should KiKi play everyday. He should not even be on the team. Get real.

  3. D-Backs Souza strained his shoulder diving for a ball….MRI Friday…..cuts are coming……Western division team with best record at this point. San Diego Padres…12-9….Dodgers are 13-13,,,,,all the others under .500

  4. Scott, I think Kiki’s mom has hacked Oscar’s account!!

    Hi Mrs. Hernandez, so nice of you to take the time and don’t be a stranger. We still love your son. Just not everyday.

    1. Right on the money there Yueh. Kike is just not that good. Likeable guy, but not my first choice to be out there everyday. One of the things I love about getting the Dodgers media guide is the little tidbits and trivia you can find in the book…..for instance, The Dodgers AAA teams have not won a championship since 1994 when Albuquerque won the PCL under Rick Dempsey. Duke Snider actually managed 2 minor league champs in the Dodgers system. Don Mattingly’s teams had a higher winning percentage than Joe Torre’s. Only 2 Dodger managers have ever had a winning percentage over .600……..Burt Shotton and Charlie Dressen. All time Dodger leader in hits in the minors…….Norm Larker. 1362 hits in the minors….HR’s Jim Gentile. 208…amazing stuff, and the pitcher with the most wins as a Dodger minor leaguer……Bill Harris, 133, he also leads in losses…97…had a cup of coffee with the 1960 team and faded into oblivion. And finally, the 3-Dog, Willie Davis had the most hits in a season 216 for Spokane in 1960. Love this book……give me a players name and I will tell you what number he wore for the Dodgers………lowest….0 by Al Oliver…highest 99, Ryu and Manny…..

        1. Yes he did…he hit a single leading off the 2nd inning. But the first homer by a Dodger at Dodger Stadium was Jim Gilliam. It was hit the next day off of Moe Drabowski, who later in his career would shut the Dodgers out over 6 innings in a World Series game for the Orioles in a relief appearance…..Moe also is noted for one time ordering a pizza while in the bullpen…..only he ordered it from Japan!

  5. “Enrique Hernandez deserves to play everyday”. That’s a bold statement!

    “taking off their “stats run everything” hats” great line.

    I wouldn’t play him everyday. But that’s just me.

    I’m on your side Oscar. Play the kid everyday. He can’t be another Delino Deshields or Wilton Guerrero. At least I hope not.

    1. Sorry Artie…you and Oscar are definitely in the minority. Kike has a flair for the dramatic it is true…but he has not hit RH pitching worth a damn over the last 2 years and I have seen nothing yet that shows me he can. He is ok as a 2ndbaseman but has made more errors in the infield than he has as an outfielder….guy has more value as a utility player…..not an everyday dude…..

        1. You used to be able to get them at the souvenir stand at Dodger Stadium. Now I wait until May and check on EBAY. That is where I have gotten the last 3 years. I also bought some used ones from the old days…The new ones are a little bigger and have tons of info.

      1. A couple of rebuttal points:
        1. I didn’t pull this Kike idea out of my left pocket. Just going with the Dodgers’ statements they plan to platoon Kike and Chase. Thus, my starting point.
        2. To imply Kike isn’t a good second baseman is shortchanging him. His fielding % at second base: 2015/1.000, 2016/1.00, 2017/.941. Career at 2nd/.992 Pretty solid numbers in my opinion.
        3. Kike has shown over the spring he can hit righties – so far. To say ST numbers mean nothing, and later look at Kershaw’s ST numbers and declare him “ready” is inconsistent. When you’re hot, you’re hot. My baseball philosophy is go with the hot hand.
        4. Kike worked on strength and speed over the offseason with intent to be an everyday player. So far, looks like that was successful. He got stronger and increased his batting skills, like a younger player can do. Older players, like Utley, unfortunately, mostly just get older and slower.

        1. Almost forgot number 5. That whole “you don’t play until you prove you can hit righties – now go sit down because a righty is pitching” is a catch-22 laugher that needs to be put to bed.

          1. Well Oscar, spring means nothing. It is nothing more than preparing for the season. Based on Kershaw’s track record, and comparing a scrub like Kike with Kersh is not fair to Kike, Kershaw usually comes out of spring firing rockets. Until Kike does it on a consistent basis and shows he can do that everyday, he is a platoon player, period. Also, those fielding stats are for a career 44 games at 2nd base…..sorry, too small a sample in my book to stick him out there everyday. We can agree to disagree there Oscar. The guy is a career scrub. He will get at least 6 weeks to disprove that.

          2. Oscar

            It would have been better if you used what Kike did in his first year on the team, because he hit over 300 for that season overal.

            I don’t know what he did against righties that year, but like I said, he hit 300 for the season that year.

            I don’t like platoons either, and they do use them to quickly for young players, so I do agree with what you are saying, to an extent.

            But I think Kike gets more chances then other players, because Roberts does play him against righties during the season.

            And actually, I think Kike hit better against righties last year, then Forsythe did, and he is an everyday player, as you know.

            But I also agree it is hard to know how a player is going to hit, if they are not playing everyday and getting consistent at bats.

  6. Oscar

    I like Kike but his biggest value to this team, is the fact he can play all over the field, and that is the reason he is even on this team.

    The best numbers to look at, is what Kike did for the entire season last year, not his numbers in spring training.

    And I am sure you know he didn’t have good numbers against righties last year, and as you know, there are far more righties pitchers in baseball, then lefties.

    And although Kike did a great job when he played in the National League Series, the team still chose to go with Joc in leftfield, instead of Kike, in the World Series.

    And this was after the season Joc had, and even after Kike almost literally won that last game against the Cubs for the team, so I don’t see a permanent platoon at second, or a permanent job at second, for anyone.

    We don’t know who is going to get on the roster, out of the few guys that are still left, to decide on.

    Farmer might make the roster, and since he can play third, and that can free Forsythe up to play second, and give Forsythe, days off.

    I don’t think Chase will get most of the at bats at second either, because he wares down to quickly

    I think Roberts will give both Kike and Farmer, plenty of at bats, so I don’t see a permanent platoon, at second, or only Kike playing second.

    Because if they would have both Forsythe and Kike to play third and second everyday, that would put a big hole in our offense, against righties, because Forsythe and Kike, had terrible numbers, against righties last year!

      1. Michael

        My point was, even after Joc had that terrible season, the Dodgers still chose to use Joc in the World Series, over Kike in left field, because of the platoon advantage.

        And that was after Kike had the game of his life, so I don’t think the Dodgers are seriously thinking about using Kike, everyday.

        I wasn’t talking about myself, or about what Joc has done, in spring training this year.

        1. I understand that. I am saying that Joc has pretty much not done anything to improve his position on the team is all.

  7. Since the majority of major league pitchers are right handed, Utley would get most of the playing time at second…Kike has to prove he can hit RH pitching consistently before any thought of everyday action is considered. Lets just hope Turner comes back well and able to be Turner.

  8. Let the performance on the field determine who plays and who doesn’t. If Kike produces, he plays, if Utley produces, he plays. That really is as difficult and simple as it gets. So everyone settle down and watch the show. Enjoy yourselves, it will all get resolved on the field, as it should.

  9. I have no problem with Oscar’s opinion on this. I’d rather give Kike the chance to show he can hit righties and play every day over starting Utley just because a righty is pitching. If he hits maybe Forsythe goe to the bench when Turner comes back. Giving players a chance is how we have Turner and Taylor. They seized their opportunities. Chris Hatcher didn’t. We’ll see if Taylor can keep it up this season.

    1. Yes, that is very true just like Barnes did well when he was made the everyday catcher at the end of the year. But as Badger so often says, usually when talking about Grandal, a blind squirrel can find a nut…….

    1. exactamundo …. We will see if Kike is up to the task. Personally I prefer Taylor over there and think he is the long term real deal. Why FAZ wants a converted infielder in CF is beyond me.

        1. Toles hasn’t started a game, in the last four games, including tonight’s game.

          And Joc has started the last three out of four, games.

          And not counting the game tonight, Toles has only had a total of four at bats, in the last three games.

          And that is not especially helpful for Toles, and his hitting, after he missed most of the season last year.

          Joc is DHing in this game tonight.

          And Roberts said he was going to play the regular line up, in the next two games, starting tonight.

          I think I was right, that Joc will be the fourth outfielder, and this seems to point in that way.

          1. Well judging from the way he hit tonight he won’t. He struck out twice and walked and when he struck out he was doing the exact same thing he did last year by opening his hips too soon and pulling off the ball.

  10. As I have posted before. Opening day at Dodger Stadium 1962. I’m standing next to the right field foul pole on the field level during batting practice. A ball is hit right down the right field line and I open the gate and retrieve the ball. Duke Snider who was shagging balls in right field came over and took the ball away from me. He gave me a lecture that the Dodgers had spent $50,000 on baseballs the year before.

    This incident has stayed with me to this day. He couldn’t let a 14 year old kid have a baseball? What a dick.

    1. He probably took it from you because you opened the gate. No one is allowed on the field at any time. You do that during a game and you are escorted out of the ball park. That being said, maybe the Dodgers had told the players not to give out balls during BP unless they were hit over the fence. I met Duke a couple of times and he was always a nice person. I remember there was a time that players were charged for balls they threw in the stands.

    2. That’s a dick move. Under no circumstances do you take a ball from a kid.

      I met Snider at his bar in Fallbrook. He seemed nice enough that day. But, it was at his bar. If I’d known he took a ball from a kid the conversation might have turned.

    3. Michael

      I didn’t see his second strike out, but you know they don’t always go with what a player does in spring training.

      But if it is Joc, he will be sitting on the bench, and Verdugo and Toles will be playing everyday in AAA.

      1. He definitely won’t be the starting left fielder. The only reason I see them keeping Joc is if they want Toles to be playing everyday. He would do that at AAA. Joc in a platoon role would make some sense…but I think Toles is at this point a better defender.

        1. A repetition of live pitching, will only make Toles better, after missing most of last year.

          I think the money also comes in play too, because Joc is making more money this year, then Cody, Corey, Barnes, and Kike combined.

          1. He did start in a B game earlier this week. But Toles has impressed me a lot with the way he approaches his at bats.

    4. What’s funny is if you had known you could have put the ball in your pocket and told him to go screw himself. Any baseball hit into the stands is fair game. It was your property once it landed in the stands. But you were a kid so how could you have known. Terrible to take a ball away from a kid.

      1. Read his post Scott…he opened the gate which means the ball was still on the field…..But Duke should have let him keep the ball. His mistake was hanging around after he got the ball….Bumgarner hit on his pitching hand by a batted ball and left the game.

  11. The respectful thing to do would have been to remind the young man to never come out on the field. Then sign the ball. If he gripes about money to a kid it sends a terrible message and is a dick move.

    Here’s another dick move, screw Bumgarner. I don’t care if he ends up on the DL. You think giant fans are sorry Turner is out for weeks?

    1. Badger

      Bumgarner fractured his left hand, and the shark is going to start the season on the DL.

      How did the Giants look when you saw them?

      1. Cueto got hit hard. Longoria, Pence, Jackson weren’t in the lineup. Indians beat them. Frankly I wasn’t impressed.

        1. Thanks Badger!

          Bumgarner had to have a pin put in the pinky he broke on his hand, and those pins need to be taken out.

          That might mess with his pitching a little.

  12. Too bad about Ashley Madison, garner of the bums. Facing the new Giants at full strength so many times early in the season was something I was really looking forward too.

    1. We aren’t at full strength. Seems like them being dinged just evens the playing field. An even field gives us the advantage. We’re the better team.

  13. Means that Cueto is now their #1. Shark is also out, D-Backs lose Souza, playing field narrowing. Venditte going to AAA so bullpen will be Jansen, Baez, Alexander, Cingrani, Fields, Chargois. Font and Stripling. Seems they are about to send Toles down and keep Pederson, a move I highly disagree with, but they want Toles to get at bats. Last roster spot battle between Trayce Thompson and Farmer. Garcia will go to AAA also. Buehler not going to Cali for the freeway series.

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