Graph of the Intermittent Time Period
A doff of the ballcap to Corinne for the inspiration:
The September race I'm watching — August 7 (Utley's return): Utley .529 OPS, Cesar .714 OPS Today: Utley .657, Cesar .686
— Corinne (@Ut26) September 6, 2015
We ruffled a few feathers over the summer, calling Cesar Hernandez’s hot-hitting a mirage. I even proclaimed Chase Utley — with the assumption that he would have remained with the Phillies — would reclaim his job at second base from Hernandez:
It's gonna be great when Cesar Hernandez's 85 MPH line drives stop finding holes, he hits .230 and Utley takes over again.
— Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill) July 7, 2015
I didn’t do too shabby with that prediction. Hernandez has a .240 batting average since July 8 (the day after I sent that tweet) and a .605 OPS. Utley, since returning from the disabled list on August 7, is hitting .337 with a .988 OPS. As Corinne points out, the OPS race between Hernandez and Utley is oddly intriguing. Here’s what it looks like so far in line graph form:
I took out the first two weeks of the season, allowing the graph to zoom in a bit to better highlight the OPS shift. It’s not too difficult to see why a healthy Utley has been able to make up ground on Hernandez. Via Baseball Savant:
Exit velocity simply measures how hard a player hits the baseball. It’s highly correlated with offensive success. Utley has, but for a week in early June, consistently hit the ball harder — ankle injury and all — than Hernandez. The stint on the disabled list seemed to do Utley’s body good, as he’s come back and hit the ball with much more authority than he was in the first half of the season.
If there has been one positive from the last two months, it’s that we’ve learned that Hernandez is definitively not a viable starting option for the Phillies going forward.