Odubel Herrera Has Quietly Become One of Baseball's Hottest Hitters
For a little while this season, it seemed as though Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera was hopelessly lost at the plate. There was talk of sending him down to the minors at one point as he struggled through a vicious slump that ate up the entire month of May.
But last year's All-Star representative for the Phils has turned his season around. After hitting .183/.196/.257 in May and entering June with a slash line of .218/.262/.326, Herrera has batted .338/.380/.571 with 22 doubles and 9 home runs.
According to the numbers, he has been among the most valuable players in baseball since the All-Star break.
On the season, Herrera is batting .282/.325/.456 following the Phils' win over the Braves Tuesday night. His on-base percentage is slightly lower than last year's (.361), but his slugging percentage has increased (.420 in 2016). He has 12 dingers now, just three short of the career high he set last year, and his 34 doubles are tied for second-most in baseball.
Over his last 30 games, the former Rule 5 selection in 2015 is hitting .370/.424/.648, and when he's hot like this, there is simply no pitch that is out of his reach, including this one from Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves.
Odubel Herrera hit a pitch 0.73 feet off the ground for a HR - the lowest in #Statcast history to leave the park. https://t.co/51KTSacR35 pic.twitter.com/1AWNV5FTiY
â€” #Statcast (@statcast) August 9, 2017
Herrera's issues early in the season were mostly due to pitch selection, as demonstrated by his walk and strikeout rates, broken down by month.
His walk rate has been a bit all over the place, but he has cut down his strikeout percentage, especially in August. The return of "good" Odubel also means the return of one of the best bat flippers in the business.
Obatflip Herrera. https://t.co/WMneyPttAM pic.twitter.com/7wyGyambWB
â€” Cut4 (@Cut4) April 23, 2017
Herrera is also one of the finest defensive center fielders in the game. His 9 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) this year are tied for 9th-most among all MLB outfielders, and among center fielders, he's 5th. Since 2015, only four players have had more DRS than Herrera: Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar, Lorenzo Cain and Billy Hamilton.
For Phillies fans who have watched the team closely this year, they know Herrera has lacked focus on the field at times, resulting in numerous base running gaffes and instances in which he was pulled from games or benched here and there for lack of hustle. But he is the only member of the Phillies core signed through next season, which means the Phillies identified him as a player around whom to build.
The results of the last three months show that, despite a horrific month of May, that money was well spent.