Area for Improvement? Marlins Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria


Aug 23, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (3) tags out Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Darnell Sweeney (24) at second base during the eighth inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Adeiny Hechavarria (“Hech” for the sake of my autocorrect) has been the Marlins starting shortstop since coming over as part of the Marlins-Blue Jays Blockbuster of 2012 that saw: Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle (but not his dogs), John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio sent to Toronto in exchange for Henderson Alvarez (gone), Anthony DeSclafani (gone), Yunel Escobar (gone), Jake Marisnick (gone), Jeff Mathis (recently re-signed!), Justin Nicolino (still here!), and Hech – which was easily the biggest swap between the US and Canada since the Ashburton Treaty. In retrospect, that particularly… efficient… fire sale netted the Fish a serious haul of future major leaguers that have, for the most part, gone on to play important important roles for other clubs.

As Marlins shortstops go, Hech is more the heir to Alex Gonzalez than say Hanley Ramirez, a glove first shut-down shortstop that doesn’t make you long for Walt Weiss at the plate. Hech rebounded in 2014 from a nightmare 2013, and made small, meaningful improvements in 2015 (.281/.315/.374 in 499 PAs – 90 OPS+), a good enough seventh or eighth hitter providing 1.1 oWAR in each of the last two years. He doesn’t steal too much, which may be just as well given his lifetime 60 SB%, just under good enough. Though his – small sample alert – 2015 uptick augurs well as he learns to pick his spots.

His underlying numbers are gratifyingly consistent, the last two years are almost identical (BABIP, LD%, SO%, BB%, XBH%) – those numbers generally tell you more relative to the player’s own baseline, highlighting outliers that help project a positive or negative regression to their career norm. Accordingly, I feel pretty confident saying that what we saw from Hech offensively in 2015, is what we can expect to see in 2016 – in full disclosure, STEAMER projects a small downtick. Either way, as a shortstop, he’d still be providing perfectly adequate offensive production.

The defensive metrics have not always been kind to Hech, a statistically befuddling less-than-stellar 2014 (I wasn’t the only one), giving way to a 2015 met with universal praise (scouts and statheads). Marlins brass likes to compare Hech to Andrelton “Ozzie” Simmons, I don’t see it. But even if the truth is something along the lines of “Simmons-lite”, that still has quite a bit of value – and to be fair, in 2015 Hech’s UZR of 15.8 was second in the league only to Simmons’s 17.3, and way ahead of everyone else. Hopefully, he’ll clean up some of the seemingly routine errors he’s been prone to, while adding to his impressive highlight reel.

Hech will be entering his age 27 season, and is arbitration eligible for the first time. Previous attempts to extend him a la Yelich have failed, but with three (albeit increasingly expensive) years of team control remaining, the Marlins will have Hech under contract through his peak years. I think that’s enough, extending Hech into his 30s is potentially dangerous without any hint of an absolute stud upside (elite offensive AND defensive contribution – Tulo, Reyes, Correa). Which is not meant as knock on Hech, getting six years out of one guy at short is an excellent run, just let someone else pay for the next six.

Hech looks to have the job locked down through 2018, if during that time the Fish are able to extend him a bit (1-2 years), I’d be fine with that – but I’m not a fan of shortstops’ aging curves, especially shortstops like Hech who earn their keep with the glove. Hyech!