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Dodgers Second Base Internal Options: Hernandez or Taylor?

Chris Taylor-NLCS

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Dodger’s catcher situation. They still don’t have one. Austin Barnes is the lone backstop with major league experience on the roster at the moment. While we wait to see what the Dodgers do about that problem, second base is also a huge area of need that I don’t think we’ve spent enough time talking about.

The Dodgers could sign a free agent to fill that void. It would make sense since it would not cost any prospects like a trade would. With Daniel Murphy reportedly reaching agreement with the Rockies, that leaves DJ LeMahieu as the probable best market option for the Dodgers. I’ve talked about him before. I think he would be a good fit for them. His contact skills and solid glovework would fill the Dodger’s needs at the keystone.

But the Dodgers don’t have to plug that hole from the free agent market. They could, if they wanted to fill the second base vacancy from within. The primary two internal options would be Enrique Hernandez or Chris Taylor. Both come with their strengths and weaknesses.

For Hernandez, his major strength is his power and versatility. He had a career year last year slugging 21 home runs and posting a 117 OPS+. His .806 OPS was the second highest of his career. We know Hernandez has got the power, but his batting and on-base skills has seen a sharp decline since his first year with the Dodgers.

In 2015, Hernandez batted .307 with a .346 OBP but hit just 7 home runs. Since then his batting and on-base outputs have fallen off a cliff. In 2016, he batted just .190 with a .283 OBP. In 2017 he batted .215 with a .308 OBP. Those numbers are pretty bad. But Hernandez was able to improve those in 2018. Last season his batting line rose to .256/.336/.470 in 462 plate appearances.

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Hernandez played a pretty solid second base, and he can be moved all over the diamond. He drew 50 walks and struck out just 78 times. He’s still got a lot of work to do on his batting and on-base skills but the potential is there for him to be the starting second baseman. I’ve always thought his batting and on-base numbers are what has held him back from being an everyday regular.

Taylor on the other hand had a breakout year in 2017. He slashed .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs and a 123 OPS+. He also swiped 17 bases and notched 148 hits. He had a great year in 2017, but his production dipped in 2018. His OPS dropped from .850 in 2017 to .775 in 2018. Last year he slashed .254/.331/.444 with 17 home runs and a 110 OPS+ in 604 plate appearances.

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Like Hernandez, Taylor can play multiple positions as well. His major weakness is his inability to make consistent contact. In 2017 he struck out 142 times, but in 2018 he whiffed at a National League leading 178 times. Simply put Taylor needs to focus more on putting the ball in play. If he did that then I think I could get behind him playing second base everyday and taking back the lead-off spot in the Dodger lineup. But his power and base running are decent.

Which of these guys hits better at second base? Hernandez has a career .269/.330/.440 with 7 home runs and a .770 OPS. Meanwhile Taylor is slashing .307/.388/.553 with 6 home runs and a .940 OPS. They’re both small sample sizes and Taylor seems to hit better in left field (.995 OPS, .331 BA) but Taylor seems to hit better when playing second base. Maybe that’s because it’s more of a natural position for him than Hernandez?

Granted Hernandez’s bat disappeared in the postseason and Taylor whiffed more times than we can count, but both men present respectable playing options for the Dodgers at second base. Which one would you rather have at the keystone?

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

15 thoughts on “Dodgers Second Base Internal Options: Hernandez or Taylor?

  1. I don’t think you can have this discussion without considering the possibility that we don’t really know for sure what we have in Seager at Spring Training. If Seager is 100% leaving ST then this discussion is merited, but since we don’t know the real Seager situation until we see him this ST, Kinke and Taylor may both be playing in the infield at the same time (what a nightmarish thought if these two continue to suck at the plate like they did last season). The Dodgers’ brass must know something as to what to expect (which with this FO doesn’t necessarily do anything to help the roster based on Seager health reports).
    All in all, the whole season really boils down to pitching, pitching and more pitching. If we have very quality pitching both SP and Bullpen, you can throw just about anyone out there in the field.

  2. I really wouldn’t want either one as a starting 2Bman. Neither has a consistent track record offensively. Both have problems. Defensively, they’re pretty good and both have some speed. Why this problem continues of not having a productive player at 2B is a shortcoming of the FO. They’ve struck out twice with Forsythe and Dozier. The whole season was a platoon of poor hitters. This really should stop with the signing of someone like LeMahieu but the Dodgers probably won’t pull the trigger preferring to save money as both Kike and Taylor come pretty cheap. So, it looks like the platoon will win out once again.

    1. In fairness to Dozier, it was reported that he played hurt in the 2nd half while here and so he may not have had to be platooned in that case if healthy. Still I am dead set AGAINST this stupid lefty/righty platoon at 2nd. It is an important middle infield position and I concur about finding someone who can play every day there and NOT be platooned.

  3. Scott,

    Agree. Second base is still a big hole in the middle infield.

    I think I would go with CT3 at second, instead of a “band aid” aquisition. Taylor needs playing time. He has proven that he is capable, defensively. His hitting has taken a nose dive, due platooning. He was a decent leadoff hitter in his first year, and has the speed needed on the basepaths. I really think his hitting will improve if he plays regularly, without the pressure of platooning and spot starts at second. Consistancy at the plate comes from repetitions, not coming in cold off the bench. Like CT3, Muncy needs more playing time, as well.

    Starting infield should be JT, Seager, Taylor, and Muncy. Let these guys be the primary starters, and let them gel into a solid, cohesive defensive unit.

    Kiké should remain as the “Super Utilityman”. That role best suits his abilities to play any position.

  4. Both Taylor and Hernandez would be OK, I guess. But with so many spots on the field taken, 2b would be a good place to upgrade with someone like DJ Lamaejdhiu/*/. (or someone via trade, ie Scooter G, Jed Lowrie etc…)

    ***Incoming Rant Alert ****(stop reading if you love all things Kikee Hernandez related)

    I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I will go on record that the sooner Hernandez is off the team, the better. It seems too much of a temptation for Doc (or FAZ) to put him in the lineup at CF/SS, while batting at the top or middle of the lineup. He is above average playing 2B or LF, he is average playing 3B/1B/RF. Everyone says he can handle any position, but I don’t see it. If you keep rolling him out at CF or SS he will be exposed BIG TIME. Think running into another fielder or falling down for no reason. (In defense of his defense at SS, he is above average a third of the time. The other two thirds, he lacks the range and concentration (decision-making) for the position. He has the arm strength, but lacks the range)

    His antics are not funny in the slightest. Tight pants. Air humping. Rally banana? (you mean his stand-in phallus?) He treats the female broadcasters like absolute trash. Standing on a bucket or chair to do interviews with Kelly Tenant, drawing attention to her height. (something most women are sensitive about). Trapping Alanna Rizzo in the corner of the dugout during one of her TV spots and air humping her. She did the next segments with a scary security guard standing behind her because Hernandez had sneaked up on her while she was talking into the camera and trapped her in the corner of the dugout. (This was the last straw for me. None of the other broadcasters (I’m looking at you, Joe and Orel) had her back nor did anyone say a word to Hernandez about his hideous behavior, on national TV, to a fellow employee of his company)

    To review, Hernandez does not make the team better and is used for a crutch, taking playing time from better players. His usage is a big part of the problem for the team over-platooning and keeping a short bench. If left on the team, times like World Series Game 5 will happen again. With Hernandez batting third, playing CF, with Kemp and Bellinger on the bench. (while going 0-4)

    Rant over

      1. I do feel better with it off my chest.

        Now I can go back to my regular system of not “hating” on any Dodgers and put him back in my “least favorite Dodger” slot.

    1. I can say that you are correct about the team over platooning for sure and those decisions by FO and Roberts about playing time or lack of much for the better players is a huge problem. And this ludicrous decision to keep a short bench because of an extra reliever is a joke as well. How many games did you notice last year when Roberts ran out of position players by the 7ht inning? That happened because most of the starters during the year on many occasion failed or were not allowed to go past 4 or 5 innings, thereby using the BP extensively. and we all saw the results of that too.

      1. Maybe they can set up a coaching platoon system. If a right hander is on the mound DR goes out for mound visits. If a lefty, then Honeycutt.

        The 1B/3B coach can shift on certain plays.

        Just a few ideas…

  5. Big trade with Cinci being finalized.

    Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood have been traded to the Cincinnati Reds, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. Homer Bailey is one of the players going back to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The return for the Dodgers clearly will be more.

    Shortstop Jeter Downs is headed to the Dodgers in the monster deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports. He really impressed scouts this year and has a chance to be a capital-G guy.

    So far, that clears about $25 million in Dodgers payroll in 2019.

    Or, at least that’s what I read.

  6. Source confirms huge Dodgers-Reds trade that will send Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood to Cincinnati for a package including Homer Bailey, pitcher Josiah Gray and infielder Jeter Downs. and likely international slot money. JeffPassan was first on the deal.

    A friend of mine is wondering if Bryce Harper has signed yet? AJ Pollack?

    Verdugo, Bellinger and Harper in the OF?

    Downs or Gavin Lux and a Catcher to trade for Realmuto?

    For someone having ‘an untradeable contract’, Kemp has been traded a lot. And every time for nothing.

    He and Homer Bailey basically cancel out. Bailey will be released. Kemp again showing to have no value.

    LOL. The Reds could run out an all-Dodgers alumni OF next year: Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Scott Schebler.

  7. Obviously dumping salary (Kemp) and surplus (Puig) for the Dodgers. Get a couple of good prospects.

    Not sure what the Reds get. They took on more $, gave up prospects and added 3 walk-yr players who still might not lift them out of 5th place, even if it makes them more competitive.

    1. C’mon Bluto, the Reds got back actual talent which in the right club, can be re-tooled into good production. Puig is a good player, just not fully developed. He may never be but his potential is there. Kemp has talent as we saw last season. He’s just way overpriced. Wood has also shown talent but he got lost somewhere last season. I’m not sure what happened to him but it was uncharacteristic as he was on an upward trend . All these are players that I wanted to see traded whether for received talent or salary dump. The Dodgers will have the bucks to sign a big name like Harper, or sit on the cash and develop more of their in-house players. Lots of interesting possibilities are opening up. I’m excited to see what transpires as I doubt they are finished.

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