Could Kike Become The Most Punch-less Dodger Ever?

Far be it from me to bring up something negative during the cheery holiday season, with Christmas just a week away and all. I still have to get this down on record before spring training camp breaks in February. With all of the “talks” and keep in mind that’s all they are at this point, of the Dodgers acquiring second baseman Brian Dozier from the Twins, I have to wonder just how bad will Enrique Hernandez (Kike) be at second base next year. Oh he’ll be bad alright.

Let’s live in reality right now. The Dodgers probably are not getting Dozier. The Twins want a bunch of the Dodgers prized young arms. The Dodgers don’t want to give them up. The Twins would be right for wanting a couple of top prospects for Dozier. We’re talking about a guy who can hit 30-40 home runs a season, steal 25 bases, and play outstanding keystone defense with solid on-base skills.

Dozier is a great player with two more years of control. Unfortunately the Dodgers aren’t giving up what the Twins want to get him. I would love to see Dozier in a Dodger uniform at the top of the lineup. Or even in the middle of the lineup. He wouldn’t hit 40 home runs at Dodger Stadium of course, but 25-30 would be reasonable. Plus all of the other tasty skills I mentioned above.

Since the Dodgers traded Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for some magic beans, they have nobody to play second base. Sure maybe they trade for Dozier, or acquire somebody else. Maybe they re-sign Chase Utley, or give Micah Johnson or Willie Calhoun a look. More than likely, my thinking and fear is that Kike Hernandez will get the majority of the playing time at second base in 2017. It’s going to be horrible and I almost can’t bear to watch him play another season.

The Dodgers love him, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. A .247 career hitter over parts of 3 major league seasons with the Dodgers, Marlins, and Astros, and posted a .722 OPS. Kike has never been a particularly outstanding player. He’s a utility player, generally seen as a pinch-hitter or late inning defensive replacement.

During his first season with the Dodgers in 2015, he batted .307/.346/.490 in 218 plate appearances and appeared in 76 games. Kike played well that year and it he was expected to get more playing time in 2016. He did, and oh my god was he worse than I ever imagined. Last season Kike batted just .190/.283/.324 with 7 home runs in 244 plate appearances. Kike struck out (64) more times than he got a hit (41) which is the earmark of a terrible hitter.

Kike was constantly batting against left handers and more often than not was put in the lead-off spot. Naturally he was pathetic, batting .219 (14 for 64) in the lead-off spot and batted .189 (23 for 122) against left handed pitching. With runners in scoring position he was 7 for 47.

I know some of you like Kike for some reason. Mark loves him. I just don’t like the guy because he’s terrible at playing baseball. Sure he’s nice with a good personality. I wish him the best, he’s a great person. I just don’t understand how someone can be so bad at their job, yet continue to be employed without getting canned and still earn a hefty salary.

Yet he’s worth watching next year because he could break the record for Dodger futility. Perhaps the most punch-less Dodger of all time was old man Garret Anderson (Auto Out). The veteran batted just .181 in 2010 for the Dodgers. Actually Kike’s numbers last year were eerily similar.

Kike Hernandez 2016- .190/.283/.324 (28 for 155

Garret Anderson 2010 – .181/.204/.271 (41 for 216)

Kike could conceivably shatter Anderson’s 2010 record. I know I am probably being a bit harsh on poor banana man. But when a player is so bad during an entire season I believe it must be properly documented. Maybe Kike has a bounce back year in 2017 and I have to eat some crow. I would gladly do so if he contributes. I just want the Dodgers to win. Having a guy in the lineup that hits below the Mendoza line is not going to do that. Especially if he is batting lead-off.

Rest assured we’ll be watching and chronicling Kike’s quest to become the most punch-less Dodger of all time. It’s sure to be bananas!

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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This article has 57 Comments

  1. Kike is one of the prime returns for Dee. He’s not going anywhere soon. FAZ-forward to September and he’ll still be here, overswinging on everything.

  2. In defense of the FAZ, in 3+ years in the minors Hernandez did hit .268 with a .324 slg. %. You don’t find those numbers everyday. Actually, I think you do. You find them all over the minor leagues. But, they must have seen something to give up a future batting champion for him. There’s some serious forethought in there. In there somewhere. Not entirely sure about that, but, he’s here, he’s ready, put him in the lineup and roll those bones.

    The list of punchless Dodgers is long. Kiké could join it, but he’s not there yet. I’ve seen him blast some really long home runs, ala The Squirrel. Maybe the light goes on this year. You traded for him ‘drew. What was the plan?

  3. Sad News

    Roger Sobin, aka Roger Dodger and Anew Blue Day passed away earlier this week. He was having a pacemaker implanted and things went horribly wrong. His wife and daughter informed me. I have no words.

    R.I.P. Roger

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Badger, Roger and I.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Classic Roger!

      1. Oh my. I’m so sorry to hear this. I talked with him not that long ago and he was so looking forward to moving into his new place. Roger was one of the good ones.

    1. This is beyond sad. We’ve lost a family member here at Ladodgerreport. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family. Let’s all take a moment to think about Roger. Our family is one shorter. We are a famil here! Merry Christmas everyone

  4. Given his age, cost, and occasional HR pop, you can bet FAZ will keep him around. Maybe he gets better but right now he seems to be the 25th guy.

  5. Keekay has trouble wit da curb. Plus he sees himself as a power hitting hero. Does anyone really think Dozier or any of the 2nd basemen being shopped will lift the Dodgers to a pennant. Maybe I’m not seeing something. JDL should be kept for injury concerns alone. Even if you consider him the 3rd best pitching prospect he’s still likely to be a very decent to very good MLB pitcher. Those are hard to come by for the price.

    1. Since 1958

      I think you might be right about that!

      I am not a big supporter of that trade, and I don’t think Dozier is going to produce like some think.

      I wonder if we are looking to much of what JDL did last year, and forgetting what he did the year before.

      Because he got off to such a bad start last year, and it took him some time, to get out on the field.

      And because of all of that, he didn’t get his first major league start, until the end of the year.

  6. Nice photos. My condolences. Although I don’t know you guys, it seems that I do. In spite of the bickering, we have a common purpose. It’s too bad the world doesn’t work that way anymore. Maybe someday. Somewhere. On point, Kike is no every day player. Anywhere. He is ok in many spots, but ok doesn’t cut it. I think 2B will go to Utley and/ or our minor leaguers. Open competition in Glendale. I keep going back to the Kendrick deal. Howie would be more than adequate at 2B for the one year left in his contract. Still hard to figure out, especially the timing. The end of this shit of a year is coming, and spring training is right around the corner. A sense of renewal most of us can use.

  7. Really? Kike the worst Dodger hitter ever?

    1988 Alfredo Griffin .199 BA, .513 OPS, 1 HR, 354 AB
    1987 Mariano Duncan .215 BA, .589 OPS, 6 HR, 287 AB
    1968 Zoilo Versailles .196 BA, .510 OPS, 2 HR, 436 AB
    1967 Gene Michael .202 BA, .470 OPS(!), 0 HR, 245 AB
    1966 John Kennedy .201 BA, .522 OPS, 3 HR, 294 AB

    There are lots of bad Dodger hitters who played regularly or semi regularly. I always though that maybe Kennedy or Jeff Torborg were the worst Dodger hitter I have ever seen. Kike is nowhere near that bad.

    1. Don’t forget Tim Federowicz:
      .194 BA; OBP .243; Slug .295; OPS .538; 278 AB(for LA). A classic example of being a good minor league hitter but almost an automatic out in the Majors.

      1. Richie

        I think the back up catcher we had, that is now on the Royals, was a pretty bad hitter too.

        He had trouble just hitting a fair ball.

    2. Torborg was a career .214 hitter who slugged, if that is the correct word, 8 homers in his 10 year career as a Dodger and an Angel. Joe Pignatano was a pretty bad hitter too. But Piggy actually hit 9 dingers one year.

  8. Kike is 25 and had surgery last off season. He is extremely close to his father and that could have played a part in his demise last year.

    Let’s not forget that he hit .307 in 2015.

    Baseball Essentials http://www.baseballessential.com/news/2016/04/18/kike-hernandez-2016s-breakout-utilityman/ wrote this BEFORE the 2016 season:

    In 2016, Hernandez has once again been pressed into more playing time than the team expected. Despite already having exceeded expectations last year, he has managed to repeat that feat again in the early-goings of 2016, putting up a .400/.438/.700 line through his first 12 games of the year. Those numbers certainly aren’t sustainable, but Hernandez looks to have proven that he is an important player in the Dodgers’ success.

    Hernandez’s value essentially comes down to a pair of key components: his ability to play all across the diamond, and his ability to absolutely crush left-handed pitching.

    The defensive versatility factor is what got Hernandez to the bigs in the first place. His bat never appeared to be a carrying tool for him as a prospect, but he kept ascending through the minors because of his ability to wear multiple gloves. As a minor leaguer with the Houston Astros, he logged several hundred innings at shortstop, third base, and in the outfield, as well as the 3,000-plus innings that he played at second base. In the big leagues, Hernandez has continued to shift all across the diamond. While defensive metrics aren’t entirely dependable, especially in these small sample sizes, it should be noted that Hernandez ranks just above average by both DRS and UZR at shortstop and in the outfield (although strangely, not at second), while passing the eye test too.

    Make no mistake, Hernandez’s ability to fill the utilityman role is something that organizations adore. Ben Zobrist has been beloved around the league for years now, and in the past several seasons we have seen Josh Harrison and Brock Holt each make All-Star teams as utility players. Defensive versatility attracts attention like it never has before.

    More important than his defensive versatility, has been Hernandez’s bat against left-handed pitching. In his brief career, Hernandez has been one of the greatest hitters of all-time against left-handed pitchers:

    Highest career SLG vs LHP (min 100 PA)
    1. Enrique Hernandez, .650
    2. Frank Thomas, .635
    3. Ryan Braun, .624

    Hernandez is not horrible in the field! That’s silly to even say. He may not be a Gold Glove, but he is above average. He’s also a hustler. He’s playing winter ball and has a .329 OB% in 71 AB’s but is still only hitting .197. Hopefully, he is working on something.

    At age 25 and 26, Ben Zobrist hit like this:

    Age 25 – .224 BA (.260 OB%)
    Age 26 – .155 BA (.184 OB%)

    Then at age 27, he started getting it cranking!

    Kike is entering his Age 25 Year. Here’s what he has done:

    Age 22 – .248 (.321 OB%)
    Age 23 – .307 (.346 OB%)
    Age 24 – .190 (.282 OB%)

    I think the whole premise of the blog is ridiculous. Players develop at different rates and sometimes go backwards at times. When a player of Kike’s age with Kike’s skills has a bad year you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    In parts of 2 seasons, at Age 24 and 25, Justin Turner hit .167 and .059 – that seems to have worked out OK. Jose Bautista hit .205 at Age 23, .208 at age 23 and .143 at Age 24. He would have been out of baseball with this sort of logic.

    The list goes on-and-on. I don’t understand how a baseball fan with two eyes and a knowledge of baseball history can give up so easily on a player like Kike!

    … and just because he can’t hit the curve now, does not mean he will never hit it. Maybe… but maybe not!

    1. Mark, all that just to agree with what Badger said? I like it.

      I am okay with Kike’ getting play at second base. Just keep him out of CF.

      1. Bum

        You always seem to expect more from Badger, then Mark.

        I know it is both of them, and I like both of them, but it just seems like you have done that lately.

        1. That last comment was neutral and merely recognized that they agreed with each other. If I say something to Badger that attempts to try to encourage him to be more at peace with Mark more than I do the other way around, it is probably because Badger usually replies to something Mark says and therefore his comment is near or immediately under Mark’s comment while Mark more often puts his comment at the bottom of the thread and by then I have moved on.

    2. Mark

      Turner only had 17 at bats, in the year he was 24.

      And he only had 17 at bats, in the year he was 25.

      Kike has had at least 200 at bats, in both years, he has been with the Dodgers.

  9. First Toy Cannon and now Rodger Dodger. Always sad to hear. Almost makes us want to get along with each other. That and eat a vegetable.

  10. I think Kike is a much better utility player, then a permanent second baseman.

    And he would be more exposed, by playing him, only at second base.

    We will just have to wait and see, just what Kike does in spring training.

    But those numbers Mark posted, seem to be the same numbers, that Kike had, all last year.

  11. Kike is a fair, not great player and as such should not be expected to do great things. As a sub against lefty’s he usually hits better. He has a bad time against RHP, and since RHP is more prevalent in the majors, I doubt he would be very good in an every day role. But, you do not know until you try.

    1. If he couldn’t hit RH pitching he never would have advanced. I think he needs more experience. That said, he and Willie might make an interesting platoon.

      I don’t believe Dozier is the last piece of the puzzle 58. I still think we need more better pitching.

      1. According to his stats Badger, his BA vs righty’s was much worse than against lefty’s, even when he hit .307 in 2015. I think he is more suited as a sub. But that’s just me. I like the kid, and think he has some skills, but I like him better in the infield than playing CF. Talk about bad routes…

        1. Every right hand hitter from Little League to the Majors has been disadvantaged since Abner was a minnow. We all learned to live with facing same side pitching and running further to first base. I’m just saying Kiké hit them early and likely often on his way up so he knows how to do it. Maybe at this level he’s hit a wall, but a few hundred at bats is too small a sample to make a determination. My opinion only.

      2. We’ve always been told that good pitching beats good hitting. It is true, I’m sure this has been proven by certain pitchers career w/l records. Sometimes it sounds like these players are just baseball cards. Let’s add in the factor of character when it comes to Willie, he is an unknown quantity and the same is true with JDL. Too bad we can’t add in some favorable contingencies with trades.
        I agree, we should focus on better starting pitching
        By the way, does anyone know how we did in 15 against LH and what was the difference?

        1. Melton

          I sure we were much better against lefties, because Kike did hit lefties well then.

          I just don’t think they should have a complete platoon team of mostly part time players hit against every leftie.

          They were ranked last in offense, in all of baseball, last year.

          If that trend continues this year, they need to stop having that platoon team.

          I rather see the line up that is getting most of the consisitent at bats hit, then these part time players.

    2. In his brief major-league career he has 309 ABs against RHP and 265 ABs against LHP, with over 200 points higher OPS vs. lefties. If he could recover the lefty-killer mojo, he’d be a valuable guy off the bench. Otherwise, pass. And I don’t understand why everyone wants to rush Calhoun to the big leagues when there are concerns about his glove and he didn’t exactly dominate the Texas League last year. That’s what Triple-A is for, folks.

  12. Very sorry to hear the sad news about Roger.
    He seemed like a very likeable and devoted man. He seemed to spend much time caring for his wife.
    He was obviously very knowledgeable about the Dodgers, and had a lot of anecdotes about his trips to Spring Training.
    What a great shame.

  13. I am guessing that Kendrick burned bridges last year by complaining about playing time. I don’t think Roberts wanted him on the team and that coupled with his deteriorating defense, and he is gone.

    1. I might have been the most calm last year and I shall remain that way this year. I like what we have already and hopefully if we get more it will be for many years and not rentals.

  14. Hmmm. If you take either word by itself it sounds negative.

    Don’t!

    Panic!

    I think the key word is be happy, remain calm and learn how to make lemonade because we damn sure will be handed some lemons soon.

  15. I am not big on Dozier, but we do need a hitter that can hit lefties well

    I don’t know if we can find someone else for second, that will help us, or from another player, for a different position.

    But we do need someone.

    Because the Giants have two leftie starters now, and we didn’t hit Cueto much at all.

  16. I went through the Spring Training Archives and found a few more photos of Roger Dodger. Goodbye, we had some great times – enjoy the Big Dodger in the Sky!
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    Roger with Josh Rawitch
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Roger took this one and sent it to me.
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Always smiling.

      1. She no doubt is MJ. He did indeed take care of her.

        Roger was a good man. He was decent, he was respectful, and he was a man of faith. As far as I know he never had a bad word to say about anyone. I knew he wasn’t well, but he was so busy taking care of his wife he only spoke of her needs when we talked. This one hurts. I really liked him.

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