Every Sunday, Marlin Maniac will bring an interactive poll for our readers to vote and hopefully spark an interesting discussion in the comments section. The poll will usually be about a hot topic around the Marlins, or an interesting debate going on among the fans of the Marlins.
The biggest mystery surrounding the Miami Marlins in 2014 has to be about their current shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria. Hech, as he is lovingly called, has become a polarizing player for the Marlins. While the Marlins front office is very high on Hech, there is a split in the Marlins fanbase about what kind of player he really is.
Hechavarria has become a polarizing figure due to the amount of praise the Marlins throw at him. You’d be hard pressed to get through an entire Marlins broadcast and not hear Tommy Hutton and Rich Waltz throwing praise at Hech every chance they get.
This usually is met by mixed results. The pro-sabermetric group (me included) draws ire at the praise for Hech, as much of the love for him is based on superficial numbers. The pro-Hech group testifies that Hech is taking another step towards being the solution at short for the Marlins.
Hech’s defense has also gotten a lot of attention. The Marlins and half their fanbase will tell you that he is right there with Andrelton Simmons as one of the premier defenders at short in the game. The pro-sabermetric group likes to point out that while Hech does make a lot of flashy plays, his defense is not as great as the Marlins try to make it out to be, as proven his lowly defensive metrics.
Michael Jong of Fishstripes did a great job of going over Hech’s defense from both a scouting and an analytical standpoint on Friday. This is the conclusion he reached:
So after two months and extra work, we still have no idea where Hechavarria stands defensively. Based on this new scouting data, he certainly seems to be closer to average than elite, which makes the negative defensive zone rating numbers weigh a bit more heavily. At this stage, I would be willing to say he is slightly below average at the position based on all of the data we have seen. But he is certainly not Andrelton Simmons or J.J. Hardy, and that makes his value to the Marlins very questionable, and this should be an area of improvement going forward.
In this long-withstanding debate for Marlins fans, I find myself in the camp that doesn’t believe Hech is the long-term answer for the Marlins. I watch every game, like many of you, and while I do enjoy the flashy plays Hech makes at times, I also feel he does not get to a lot of balls other short stops do get to. I also question his lackadaisical movement on routine plays. Something former Marlin shortstop Hanley Ramirez was often killed for.
Hechavarria is not improving enough and the proof is in his numbers:
Hech has been a two-win improvement over last season, but that’s not saying much at all, as he was likely the worst regular MLB player last season. He has raised his average nearly .050 points up, but that could be traced to his 0.55 increase in his BABIP.
Also concerning for Hech is his drop in walks. He has gone down a full percentage in taking walks per plate appearance. So even with his OBP improving this year, it’s mostly tied to his BABIP and is not a dependable number if his balls stop finding gaps.
Hech has zero home runs on the season and his ISO has not improved over last season. Meaning he is a slap hitter that depends on his BABIP to find success.
In my opinion, without any pop and a lack of walks, this season could very possibly be the ceiling for Hech’s offensive game. If that is the case, his questionable defense cannot continue, or he’ll continue to fiddle around as a replacement player, at best.
What do you guys think? Has Hech improved enough in 2014 to warrant the support the Marlins have shown him? Vote on the poll below and let your voice be heard in the comments.