I always wanted to do one of these comparison-type pieces. Here we go.
The following are two current Marlins players.
Player A: 211 PA, .250/.350/.342, 20.7 K%, 13.6 BB%, .092 ISO, 4.7 Speed Score, .317 wOBA
Player B: 311 PA, .252/.349/.383, 23.0 K%, 12.5 BB%, .133 ISO, 3.7 Speed Score, .329 wOBA
One has been lauded by many a Marlins announcer, front office guy, manager, and fan (myself included). One is a pariah among many fans and is slowly being phased out by the team. Who is whom?
Let’s start by analyzing each player. Player A, a freshly minted 25 years of age, is hitting a pretty weak slash line with an above average OBP. The OBP has been of critical focus for most of the praise of this player. So far this season, he’s posted a solid walk rate, the type of rate that has been lacking in the Marlins’ starting lineup. In many other aspects he’s been league average. He’s struck out at a league average pace. He hits line drives at a league average level, which has contributed to a mostly neutral BABIP. He tends to hit more far more grounders than fly balls, and a lack of power (.092 ISO, 4.7% HR/FB) seems to be the only thing holding him back as a hitter. If he could develop some more gap power, he could be an excellent hitter one day.
Player B, halfway through his age-25 season as well, has shown similar tendencies to Player A. He too is suffering from a weak slash line buoyed by an above average OBP and dragged down by a terrible SLG. His power numbers are down this year (.131 ISO, 9.6% HR/FB) but his other values are appreciably average as well. Player B has not run into any more or less luck than Player A, as his BABIP also appears very normal. Where Player B differs is in his better power numbers, a result of hitting more fly balls (20%/40%/40% approximate split between LD/GB/FB) than Player A (20%/50%/30%), resulting in a few more outs on balls in play but a few more chances to hit home runs. The added value seen in Player B’s wOBA over Player A’s is in his weak but significantly better power numbers; they wouldn’t stack up to Hanley Ramirez, but they are significant statistically.
I’ll give you time to think on this one. Let’s space this out a bit.
Player A is a pretty popular man in the clubhouse and media these days. He’s Chris Coghlan, the rookie who has impressed the Marlins with his ability to draw walks, despite an acceptable lack of power and an untested outfield glove. The Marlins will take that .350+ OBP at the top of the lineup any day, and wisely made the decision to move Coghlan to leadoff and found him permanent playing time playing in left field.
Player B has recently been benched against left handers and has been hearing trade rumors and angry fan tirades since the beginning of the year. But with how Coghlan has been valued as a leadoff man, you would think Marlins brass would have an idea that another guy like Coghlan would be worth something. And yet, it seems obvious that, at least against certain matchups, the Marlins want no part of this man. This man is Jeremy Hermida, despised as a “failed prospect” for months now.
Why all the vitriol towards Hermida and the praise towards Coghlan? Don’t get me wrong, I like what Coghlan is doing, but there can be no argument that offensively Hermida has been superior so far this season. You might argue that Hermida has developed a skill set quite similar to that of Coghlan’s and has been bumped because of his somewhat extreme split this year (batting under .190 against lefties in 88 PA) and his apparent lack of “leadoff” ability, likely due to a lack of speed. Aside from the absurd notion that guys at the top of the lineup need to be fast (see Boggs, Wade), wouldn’t Hermida’s newfound walk rate be useful at the No.2 slot in the lineup, at least over Bonifacio? Can we all agree that .350 OBP’s are better at the top, eating up the second most plate appearances, than .300 OBP’s.
So they’re the same offensively. What about on defense? Coghlan has been subpar out in the outfield, a -3.3 runs by UZR in a small sample. However, that’s Gold Glove baseball compared to what we’ve seen from Hermida this season. Perhaps the biggest reason to sit Hermida against lefties isn’t his split (in 332 PA against lefties prior to this season, Hermida hit a respectable .254/.330/.401, otherwise known as league average) but his statue-like status in the corner outfield position. There will be more in the next installment of the Marlins Midseason Review, but Hermida is currently worth a Dunn-esque -12.9 runs compared to league average. So far, this has been the difference between their performances. Coghlan has been exactly replacement level due to him playing left field, while Hermida has been an embarassing 0.5 wins below replacement level due to his terrible defense.
And finally, don’t argue upside. Hermida is a bit older at approximately 25 1/2 years of age, but both men still have around the same time until they reach 28, their supposed peak year. They have room for some improvement, but not the sort of groundbreaking leap we’d like to prognosticate. Neither player can be considered a much of a prospect any longer.
I certainly don’t blame Fredi for sitting Hermida from time to time and in fact am encouraging the idea; I want to see as much of Brett Carroll and his run-saving defense as possible. But to not recognize that Hermida has been a league average bat for a team that has struggled offensively is not acceptable. And to accept an everyday role for Chris Coghlan when he has not been great fielding his new position and has been a bit below average at the plate isn’t acceptable either.
Neither should be benched full time, neither should play every single game. I guess I just want more of Brett Carroll, because with him you know you’ll get solid defense on a team that really could use some of that help.