After three consecutive days of discussing newcomers to the Marlins team, today we find ourselves with the first hold-over from a year ago, Adeiny Hechavarria. In 2013, Hech completed his first full season in the major leagues, after coming to the Marlins in the blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
It is no secret that the Marlins front office believes that Hechavarria is the shortstop of the future in Miami. Upon arrival, many touted his advanced fielding and were confident that he could find a hitting stroke with consistent repetitions. Last year exposed the difficulties that even talented players can face early on in their careers.
We knew going into the season that hitting was going to be a struggle, but no one was prepared for the struggle that Hechavarria would experience in the field. Sure he had his bright spots, at times making spectacular plays like this one.
Even with plays like this, Hechavarria struggled due to his inconsistent play on defense. He finished with 15 errors, 3rd most among National League shortstops. I know that error’s don’t give the entire picture, but there was more. Advanced metrics didn’t like his play much either.
With his speed and range, it wasn’t adding up. One of the most respected fielding coaches in the game, Perry Hill believes that he is one of the best that he has ever coached at that position. Thankfully for Fish fans, Hech’s problems may come from poor positioning. In this article from NBC sports, they outline that Hechavarria would be much better if he played a little closer to third base, eliminating many of the base hits that travel that direction.
If a little repositioning is all that is needed, Hechavarria can turn his entire focus on hitting in 2014. Baseball-Reference placed Hech’s WAR at -2.1. This was due largely to his terrible season hitting. He struggled to a .227 batting average, but the real problem was a .267 on-base percentage. That is simply not acceptable. Miami will need to see that number above .300 for Adeiny to be taken seriously as the long-term answer at shortstop.
I believe that Hechavarria will have a better season at the plate. His BAbip numbers indicate that there might some room for improvement, and he did show signs of life, particularly during a July month that saw him post a .324 batting average. The Marlins have been unwavering this off-season on their support for Hechavarria, however, if he has another season like he did in 2013, they may not be as steadfast.
One thing is for sure, heading into 2014 Hechavarria is the starting shortstop and, barring injury, he will be there on opening day.
Let us know what you think. Is Hechavarria the shortstop of the future? Let us know in the comments below, and go Fish!