Odubel Herrera Has Quietly Become One of Baseball's Hottest Hitters

The Philadelphia Phillies' former All-Star center fielder has overcome a slow start and is mashing everything in sight.

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.

Odubel Herrera Phillies .381 .447 .702 .474 196 1.7
Jose Altuve Astros .430 .459 .667 .474 207 1.7
Chris Taylor Dodgers .385 .411 .725 .469 196 1.7
Mike Trout Angels .354 .470 .646 .462 201 1.6
Charlie Blackmon Rockies .389 .455 .733 .485 185 1.5
Willson Contreras Cubs .322 .385 .724 .451 180 1.5
Andrelton Simmons Angels .375 .440 .550 .421 173 1.4
Matt Chapman Athletics .265 .344 .639 .397 156 1.4
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks .363 .471 .650 .458 179 1.4
Corey Seager Dodgers .341 .408 .625 .429 170 1.4
Didi Gregorius Yankees .351 .364 .617 .405 157 1.4
Nolan Arenado Rockies .372 .413 .744 .471 176 1.4

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.

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.

Month BB% K% wOBA wRC+
April 10.6 22.3 .321 96
May 0.9 26.8 .190 10
June 4.5 21.6 .367 126
July 7.4 23.4 .442 175
August 6.9 10.3 .382 136

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.

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.