Miami Marlins Position Review: Shortstop Grades


Sep 27, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (3) forces out Washington Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (3) at second base during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Marlins fans can be an interesting bunch. On one hand, they find that they need to stick together. It’s not easy being fans of a team whose owner is hated universally, whose attendance is in the bottom 5 every year, and whom announcers constantly claim that no one cares about the team. I am sure it is for these reasons, and others, that whenever I pass another person sporting Fish gear, I give them at least a smile and a nod. It is rare that I don’t receive a wry smile in return. One of those expressions that says “Keep up the good fight, keep supporting the team”.

Yet with such a solidarity among Marlins fans, it is really interesting to see how divided they can be over one player. That player is Adeiny Hechavarria. Ask any Marlins fan and it seems they have a concrete opinion on Hech’s ability. Some believe he is the best shortstop that Miami has ever had. Other’s think that he is overhyped, and doesn’t justify the Marlins seeming fascination with him. Hechavarria alone has caused many intense discussions from writers at Marlin Maniac as we discuss the Marlins future at shortstop.

If 2013 was the season that Marlins fans who bemoan Hech’s confusing lack of range felt justification, 2014 is the season that everyone who touted his high ceiling is saying, “I told you so”. After Hechavarria’s dismal 2013 season, he put together a solid 2014 campaign, when compared to where he was. Could this mean that Hechavarria is indeed improving?

Sep 24, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (3) is unable to make a diving catch during the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Adeiny Hechavarria – C

Keep in mind that Hechavarria is only 25-years-old and just completed his 2nd full season in the majors. This certainly implies that he has not yet reached his peak as a player, which usually comes between 27-30.

Adeiny slashed .276/.308/.356 this year, an excellent improvement over last years .227/.267/.298. This improvement is more of an indictment of just how bad last year was though, rather than a great 2014 season at the plate. Truthfully, most people view any OBP hovering around .300 as not very good, yet Hech wasn’t even sniffing that number in 2013, but enough about that season. His 2014, slash line coupled with some of his other numbers (53 runs, 34 RBI’s, 1 HR, 7 SB) over a full season paint a picture of someone who is not an asset at the plate, not yet at least.

One of the things that particularly troubles me is the stolen base production. Hechavarria is very quick. He should be a threat to steal every time he touches first base. That, coupled with Redmond’s love of “small ball”, should give him ample opportunity to at least reach double digit stolen bases, if not 20, yet Hech can’t seem to do it. In fact, he gets thrown out at an alarming rate for someone with his speed. He historically has a caught stealing percentage of just under 50%. Hopefully that is something that Brett Butler and company can work with him on this offseason.

Hechavarria doesn’t offer much in the way of power, and that is fine if he can make up for it in other areas. Hechavarria’s WAR production over a full season (which encompasses all of his hitting contributions) earned him a 0.6 according to Fangraphs. For comparison, a replacement level player is said to produce a 2.0 WAR over a full season, so Adeiny is a little low, but again better than his -1.9 that he posted last year, so there is improvement.

Now onto Hech’s most polarizing part of his game, his defense. This is where much of the division among Marlins fans take place. Anyone that watches the Fish play on a regular basis has been treated to some highlight plays that maybe only a handful of shortstops are capable of making in the major leagues. Yet the advanced stats continually degrade Hech’s play as not even an average defender.

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We all know the natural divisiveness between the old school and new school metrics way of thinking, but I think that to some extent, both are right. Human nature tends to have an ability to remember the great plays and call them up in our minds, despite them being further apart then we may realize. (It seems like just last week that Hech climbed the ladder to catch that line drive that looked 20 feet over his head.)

On the other hand, numbers don’t lie, but they don’t always say exactly what we think they do. A number that is disparaging Adeiny’s range, doesn’t always take into account, pitcher, speed of the runner, how hard the ball was hit, etc. Many of these variables are designed to even out over the long term when comparing with other players, but don’t always get it just right. Also those numbers can’t take into account a single great play and give more value to it than another play.

So where does Hech fall on the spectrum? I believe he is an average fielder. He is capable of making the incredible play at times, but he is also more than capable of an errant throw, or booted ball. I don’t believe that he is good enough at this point to warrant gold glove consideration (we should just etch Andrelton Simmons name on that trophy for the next decade right now and get it over with) but he has shown improvement, and that is a big part of what we ask our players to do, constantly improve.

When looking at the total package, I believe neither extreme is correct in judging Adeiny. He ranked 18th in shortstops according to WAR on Fangraphs, and middle of the pack seems about right. That has earned him this grade.

Jul 18, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Ed Lucas (59) miss plays a hit during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Lucas – D-

Lucas may not have played much shortstop this year, but he played more games there than any other place, so we are going to use this space to provide a recap of Lucas as well. Part of Lucas’ value was in his ability to play multiple positions, which he did. He played 19 games at SS, 18 games at 2B, 4 at 3B, 4 at LF, 3 at 1B, and 3 in RF. Lucas isn’t just a warm body on defense either. He plays every position well, and is the quintessential utility guy.

Unfortunately, for all of his value defensively, offensively he is basically a AAAA player, someone better than the minor leagues, but not quite at the MLB level. He slashed .251/.283/.296…that’s not good. Those numbers were aided by a robust strikeout rate of more than 25%. Often times we will see a high strikeout rate accompanying a high walk rate as players are working pitch counts and seeing more 3rd strikes, but also more walks. (Think Christian Yelich, 20% K, 10% walk) That is not Lucas. He walked on only 4.2% of his plate appearances.

Some other telling stats include 1 home run, 19 runs, and only 9 RBI’s. Lucas managed 1 stolen base on the year. Another alarming statistic was Lucas’ BABIP. A .338, higher than his career average, indicates that somehow, Lucas actually got lucky with his abysmal slash rate mentioned before. That is pretty bad.

Many of you are likely already aware of the news that broke 2 days ago surrounding Ed Lucas’ future. The Texas Rangers claimed Lucas off waivers ending Ed’s brief, but productive, tenure with the Fish. Of course we wish him the best, but likely won’t miss him too much.

What do you think about the grades? Give us your grades on the Marlins shortstops in 2014 in the comment section below!