Miami Marlins Season Preview: Best case scenario for Adeiny Hechavarria

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Yesterday, my co-editor Travis Honeycutt went over the worst case scenario for Miami Marlins short stop Adeiny Hechavarria for the upcoming 2015 season. Travis did not paint a great picture of chances of success for the Marlins short stop, as he has not been as good as the team has advertised him to be in his first two seasons.

"I have no idea, but I think we will see something right between his dreadful 2013 output and the “meh” numbers he put up last year. I can see his batting average being right around the .260 mark as projected by ZiPS, which is perfectly acceptable if you hit 25 home runs a season. But Hechavarria does not. He hit one last season. One. And he actually walked less in 2014 than he did in 2013, and owns a hilarious career-4.7 BB%, so he doesn’t even have a reasonable OBP in his favor."

The offense Hechavarria provides leaves a lot to be desired and while the team has raved about Hech being a top of the line short stop, the defensive metrics have not quite agreed on that. He’s rated as a poor defender at short, despite the flashy plays.

Hechavarria will be hoping that he can build on his 2014 success, one that saw him improve his overall line from .227/.267/.298 slash line to a .276/.308/.356 with a 84 OPS+ and 82 wRC+. The main reason for the bump in his line was his BABIP (.323), which came in at 60 points better than his 2013 season line (.270) and 24 points better than his career mark (.299).

In 2013, Hechavarria was among the worst major league regulars with his 53 wRC+, which ranked second to dead last among short stops. Last season was an improvement, but Hech had the 6th lowest wRC+, registering at 82.

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When looking at Hechavarria, we have to keep a realistic view on what he can do next season and for his career. He’s not going to turn into a Troy Tulowitzski level superstar. He’s not even going to be as good as former Marlin short stops Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez.

But the Marlins do have a guy that can become a league average player in the near future. While many Marlins fans hate defensive metrics because they paint Adeiny in a bad light, there is some merit to them. And while the Marlins proclaim Hech is the best fielding short stop in baseball, they are not completely wrong either.

Before anyone gets upset at me calling Hechavarria a potential league average player, let’s remember, this team already has its stars in the outfield and decent corner infielders. They don’t need Hech to be another star, if he can get to be a league average player, he’d be extremely useful for the ballclub trying to contend.

I’ve always believed Hechavarria is somewhere between the player the Marlins see and the one defensive metrics see.

As Travis pointed out in his post, ZiPS projects Hech to post these numbers next season.: .260/.296/.349, 78 wRC+, 0.7 zWAR

ZiPS projects him to walk in just 5% of his at bats next season, which is actually above his career mark of 4.7%. A slight improvement on that would raise his on base percentage to over .300 for 2015. ZiPS also projects a .308 BABIP for Hech in 2015, which is still lower than his .323 mark last season.

If Hechavarria can get his on base percentage near the .310 mark, hit a couple of more deep flies, and avoid the double plays in 2015, his offensive line will look a better. Hechavarria also needs to be more efficient on the basepaths, as he does have above average speed, but was caught 5 of the 12 times he tried to steal in 2015.

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Hechavarria is the Marlins short stop for the foreseeable future, like it or not. I highly doubt he’ll ever be as bad as he was during his 2013 season, but he also will never become the star the Marlins believe he will be.

Hopefully this can be the season where the metrics fall into line with what the Marlins see. If so, Hechavarria can become a key player in the Marlins quest to end their 12-year playoff drought.

Even if Hech struggles again on the field and at the plate again in 2015, it’s unlikely the Marlins would even bother consider replacing him, so hoping for him to succeed is the Marlins best chance.

Next: Who Gets Last Bench Spots?

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