Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

A doff of the ballcap to Corinne for the inspiration:

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:

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.

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13 comments

  1. GB

    September 07, 2015 08:43 AM

    Wow, disagree….taking out the first 2 weeks is convenient though since Utley stank during that time. I do not believe we know definitively anything about Hernandez yet, but he has a potential future here whereas we did know about Utley’s decline, age, injury track record and that he does not have any potential future here. The reality you are heralding a .657 OPS by Utley says alot – that OPS stinks. That is the bottom line, I love Utley and will always remember fondly what he did here during our run, but that is OVER and has been over for years. Hernandez may not be the final answer at 2B, but we needed to move on from Utley so we can find that answer. I’m willing to give Hernandez more than a partial season to show what he can do.

    • Matt

      September 07, 2015 12:04 PM

      He didn’t remove the first two weeks of data, just the first two weeks of the graph where OPS fluctuates at crazy rates due to limited PAs.

      This is also Hernandez’s 9th season in the Phillies organization and right now his underlying stats look very similar to everything he has done over those 9 years.

  2. Gary Brant

    September 07, 2015 09:37 AM

    Larry Andersen onPhilliesRadioBroadcasts has mentioned in Many Occasions Hernandez’ inability to”Think Through” (Basebal instinctsLike Utley was Known for)Situations, and Keeping His head IN the game. His defense has held up, playing Everyday and Major League Everyday second base for the first time. Hitting wise, lets see The” Movie” ofthe Big Picture of the Whole season, which includes “Snapshots” of Short Spurts and Streaks, of which the “Movie” is made up of. The old flipping Rapidly individual “snapshots” in succession & Sequence; which make up the Cartoon/Movie.

  3. Michael C Lorah

    September 07, 2015 10:56 AM

    I don’t think anybody ever thought Hernandez is better than Utley – we simply thought that the Phillies are better off giving the kid a chance and are similarly better off turning Utley into a young player or two. The fact that both Chase and Cesar have similarly underwhelming numbers is certainly no reason to give the job back to the 36-year-old, no matter how much we love him.

    In fact, by getting Sweeney for Utley, Hernandez is probably already #2 on the depth chart, but they’ll put Sweeney in the outfield to get both bats in the line-up for a little while. When Crawford comes up, odds are Galvis shifts over to second, dropping Hernandez to third on the depth chart.

    • JustBob

      September 07, 2015 03:05 PM

      A reasonable response which of course gets a couple of votes down on here.

      Hernandez isn’t a good player but this is a rebuilding team. It doesn’t really matter if he isn’t a long-term answer as the starter at 2B given his cost and contract status.

      Bill’s assertion that this team could have somehow got a lot more trade value if they had only picked up Utley’s $15M option and traded him this offseason is a stretch at best and spurious at worst.

  4. Larry

    September 07, 2015 12:49 PM

    “August 7 (Utley’s return): Utley .529 OPS, Cesar .714 OPS
    Today: Utley .657, Cesar .686″

    We are about 3 weeks to go til the season is over….Let’s not forget that Utley made 15 mil this year and Hernandez made 510k

    ” 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.”

    Couldn’t we say the same thing about Utley for the 1st 3 months?…..Hey if we are looking at former Phillies stats who got traded this year: Ben Revere is at .709 OPS right now FYI

  5. Bubba0101

    September 07, 2015 01:28 PM

    Black magic Bill. I bet you have a voodoo doll of Hernandez hanging under your Utley shrine too. I know i would if I had an Utley shrine that people knew about…

  6. Romus

    September 07, 2015 02:54 PM

    Does anyone know…. Average exit velocity…..is that computed on every batted ball, or on batted balls that result in hits?

  7. GettinFancy

    September 07, 2015 03:11 PM

    The exit ball velo stat is fun to look at, but isn’t it just another fancy way of saying player X has more power than player Y? Looking at Slug % and Iso prob gives you the same thing… Exit Velo might be more helpful with there was an indication where the cut off mph line is for a given batted ball to be mostly a hit v. mostly an out(?) – then seeing what the percentage of balls above that line a given player achieves(?).

    • Romus

      September 07, 2015 03:53 PM

      Then can LD% be factored into the equation also, when it results in hits vs non-hits?.
      Just trying to grasp the idea, if there is much difference in one batter’s exit velo on a LD then another and whether or not it makes a difference.

  8. KMG

    September 07, 2015 06:08 PM

    Bill, you identify the problem here when you say “Utley, since his return from the disabled list…” When healthy, even this older model Chase Utley is better than Cesar. The problem is every year now, you are getting at best 110 games from Chase. The Phillies cannot rely on that moving forward. This year they had to find out about Cesar- they did, he is not the answer. At least know the team knows that, in 2016 and beyond, they still have to find their answer at second base.

    • NavyJoe

      September 08, 2015 06:44 AM

      You are correct, but I think the point is that the writing has been on the wall for a while now that Caesar is, at best, a guy than can come off the bench. Despite a pretty glaring lack of MLB talent, many were clamoring for him to start over Utley, as Caesar was “obviously the 2B of the future.”

      That attitude wasn’t necessarily prevalent on this website but was quite common among the luminaries of Philly sportstalk radio, philly.com, etc.

  9. 100Bucks

    September 09, 2015 07:14 AM

    I am sorry, but when I looked this morning Hernandez was +1.0 WAR in 2/3 of a season. By definition that makes him an MLB player.

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