One of These Things Is Not Like the Others: 2017 Odubel Herrera

I wanted to write about Odubel Herrera even before we had to have inane discussion of trading him because of two aesthetically unpleasing plays in Tuesday’s game. Entering Wednesday, Odubel Herrera is now batting .272/.316/.438, and when you combine that with his excellent outfield defense, he is also sporting a 1.8 to 1.9 (f)WAR(P). That is just off of the roughly 4 wins a year he has put up the the previous two seasons, but is on pace to be a valuable major leaguer.

Herrera having a good, but not great season, is not really a reason to write an article, so this is obviously about more than that.  So now for a game. Can you spot the difference?

AVG OBP SLG
A .286 .361 .420
B .262 .340 .417
C .183 .196 .257
D .321 .351 .519
E .348 .408 .623

 

BB% K% ISO
A 4.5% 21.6% .198
B 9.2% 21.1% .275
C 9.6% 20.4% .134
D 10.6% 22.3% .155
E 0.9% 26.8% .073

 

LD% GB% FB%
A 26.4% 39.6% 34.0%
B 21.6% 46.4% 32.0%
C 20.6% 55.6% 23.8%
D 15.0% 45.0% 40.0%
E 28.4% 40.7% 30.9%

If you found the outlier as C, E, and D, congratulations you have spotted May 2017. The other 4 splits (in order following those May splits) are June 2017, July 2017, 2016 Full Season, and April 2017.

There is obviously some fluctuation month to month like the low walk rate in June 2017 or the high line drive rates in June-July 2017. However, Herrera’s May this year really sticks out as a huge outlier. So what happens when we take away that month?

  • 283 PAs
  • .307/.360/.510
  • 7.8% BB%
  • 21.6% K%
  • 24 Doubles
  • 1 Triple
  • 9 Home Runs

That is a really good baseball player and if Herrera did it over a full season he would be a near 6 win player. That is Herrera’s splits including April, over the past two months he is hitting .331/.374/.560 with 27 extra base hits in 45 games. According to Fangraphs that makes him the 10th most valuable hitter in baseball this month.

The reality is that Herrera has had these cold streaks before and they are a part of his game. You can read others on Herrera as a person and a baseball player, and why he may not always be the most locked in player in the world. I want to speak to the baseball player part, because it gets lost just how unique Odubel Herrera is. In 2015 he jumped directly from AA to the majors while learning a completely different position. That is mostly in the past, but the skills that let him do it are still there. At the plate, Herrera is fast twitch, with an ugly swing and an unnatural ability to make contact with a baseball. There are a lot of moving parts to his swing, and it is not entirely surprising that when things get out of rhythm holes emerge. Back in May, Tim wrote for this site about the way pitchers were attacking Herrera, clearly that plan has not continued to be highly successful against Herrera.

Odubel Herrera can be a frustrating player, but it is important to remember that this is a supremely talented baseball player who is capable of being one of the better players in the game. A misguided bat flip here and there should deter him from being the fun loving and joyous player he has been his whole career, because that player should be a building block for the Phillies, not being driven out of town by angry fans.

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16 comments

  1. ThatNed

    July 26, 2017 04:34 PM

    Numbers and metrics are EXTRAORDINARLY important, no question. What I will also say, as someone who has played a sport semi- professionally, that you have to take into account someone’s attitude, dedication to their craft, and how they either lead or blend into the chemistry of the locker room.

    Bat flips are one thing, but when you start factoring in the instances ‘dogging it’, overrunning an obvious stop sign and other repeated mental errors that absolutely negatively impact the game, and thus the team’s record, then you have to act accordingly.

    I don’t know if Mackanin is handling it right, and I think the fans may be a little harsh, but I do know that you have to look at all of the elements. Chase Utley he’s not, but he is very talented, and I hope that both the Phillies learn how to better motivate and refine Herrera, and that he starts to mature as a player.

    • Romus

      July 26, 2017 05:38 PM

      Find it somewhat comically ironic that the author finds trade talks about Herrera inane,
      then approx six hours later the player goes out and puts on a demonstration illustrating exactly the reasoning behind it.
      And as is happening this afternoon in the offices at the head-shed down at Citizens Bank Way, the team’s front office execs are exploring all alternatives on juggling this unenviable situation.
      Teammates are now on record publicly unable to condone the antics bordering on unprofessional, while opponents mock the events in jest.
      What to do is now squarely in the hands of the executive level.
      Manager, coaches and teammates seem to be throwing up their hands in futility…they have given it their best shot,
      A trade is highly unlikely…probably few takers and for sure, lower return value on a highly productive baseball player by analytic measurements.
      The only reasonable solution as it stands now, is to ride out the storm.

      • Edwin

        July 26, 2017 06:10 PM

        Romus, I sincerely doubt that you know anything about what is going on with the FO. However, I assume they questioning his ability to be cornerstone since he lacks any sense of leadership essential to being a core player core players make the others around them better. He also hasn’t done anything to deserve the swagger he shows – just ask the opposing teams. If the Phillies can trade home they should. He’s going to be a headache and genuine source of frustration for fans, teammates and management. Think Manny Ramirez without the steroids.

      • Romus

        July 26, 2017 06:33 PM

        Edwin….seems everyone in the electronic media knows……he is a point of discussion today down there..
        The writers know it and have commented on it….from leaving the clubhouse after last night’s game without staying to talk to the manager to, being benched tonight.
        I do not think anyone ever thought he was going to assume a leadership role anyway, but his metrics surely indicated he could be a core baseball player for a wining team.
        And not sure what you mean by ‘hasn’t done anything to deserve the swagger he shows’. Making the all-star team last season helped his cause in that regards.
        He did have accomplishments on the field that were above the ordinary.
        But agree with yuo in that , if offered a deal that would hard to refuse, then take it. But do not see that happening until the off-season at the earliest.

      • Edwin

        July 26, 2017 07:20 PM

        Romus, What is said to the media and what is discussed behind closed doors are two completely different things. Yes, we know they are pissed but we don’t know how pissed they really are, or whether they willing to let this blow over. We know the players around him are disappointed in Herrera. As for the leadership role, you can bet they thought he would be ‘leader going forward’ when the signed him to that contract. Klentak and Makannin said as much in their press conference. Core players are viewed as leaders in any organization be it a corporate entity or a baseball team. I just see him as a talented, good player on a second level team which is what he is. He would just be a complimentary piece on a team like the Dodgers or Red Sox.

  2. Steve

    July 27, 2017 05:32 AM

    Perfect example of a guy who would benefit from some veteran leadership on the team. Im all for signing guys to one year deals during the rebuild, but this is the downside. Herrera came right from AA to the Majors, had a lot of on field success, but has always played for a terrible team with no veteran leadership to hold him accountable. He has the emotional baseball IQ of a minor leaguer still.

  3. Mike Fassano

    July 27, 2017 08:30 AM

    “How to lie with statistics”. Required reading when I was in school back in the day. Take away JP Crawford’s stats for July, and he doesn’t look too appealing. Though baseball is a statistician’s wet dream, I prefer the eye test. In 1980 It was funny watching Lonnie “Skates” Smith slip and slide his way around the bases on the Veterans Stadium astroturf. It was funny because that was an excellent team. When it happens on the worst team in baseball, it gets magnified. When Herrera gets laughed at by other teams, know that they’re laughing at what he represents also. The team and the City. Because of his enormous talent some fans are willing to overlook his flaws, and others aren’t. At this point in time, he’s the best player on the team, and trading him should not even be considered.

    • Richard

      July 27, 2017 01:25 PM

      “When Herrera gets laughed at by other teams, know that they’re laughing at what he represents also. The team and the City.”

      This is amazing nonsense.

    • ASK

      July 30, 2017 07:40 AM

      From the same “How to lie with statistics”…take away JP Crawford’s April, when he was struggling to return from his injury, and his OBP is .360 and his SLG is .423.

  4. Major Malfunction

    July 27, 2017 09:13 AM

    His dramatic bat toss on a WALK towards the Marlins dugout a few weeks ago is just another example of his inability to concentrate when he should. Without a doubt, he is going to get someone plunked because of his inability to use his head at the plate.

    Talking to him multiple times hasn’t worked yet. Maybe once he sees one of his teammates get drilled by the pitcher following his AB, he’ll realize the err of his ways? I do not want to see that, but I think it’s inevitable given the unwritten rules of the game.

    Regardless, what a talent. Just think what kind of numbers he could put up with a more “professional” approach.

    • Romus

      July 27, 2017 02:44 PM

      MaMa…all he needs is to find a good woman and get married…and then here comes the babies, and then…and then. …that will squeeze the clown out of him.

      • Ned

        July 27, 2017 02:51 PM

        Wtf?

      • Bill

        July 27, 2017 06:01 PM

        That’s a pretty stupid statement and irrelevant even if you’re trying to be funny.

      • Henry

        July 28, 2017 02:24 PM

        Hey Romus ever think he might like the idea of getting married, settling down and having kids?

      • Bill

        July 29, 2017 08:09 AM

        How about not like the idea of getting married, having kids and settling down?

  5. pamikeydc

    July 27, 2017 11:02 AM

    He does his El Torito thing to my nephew each and every time he went into the dugout the other game so I’ll def take that. Seems like a great guy. If we were winning no one would care.

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