Based on the player personnel on the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ current roster at the moment, one would be fairly confident in saying that the 2016 second base spot will be a platoon between Enrique Hernández and Chase Utley.
After all, the splits setup quite nicely. Last season, Hernández slashed .423/.471/.744 in 87 PA against lefties, while slashing only .234/.262/.331 in 131 plate appearances vs. right-handed pitching.
Utley isn’t really horrible when facing LHP, but his power numbers are far better against right-handers. Over his career, Utley has hit .260/.364/.448 with 68 home runs in 2130 PA vs. lefties, while batting .290/.365/.492 with 168 homers in 4628 PA against RHP.
Couple those numbers with the fact that Utley turned 37 two weeks ago, a platoon seems very logical. Despite the stats, some may still argue that the 24-year-old Hernández is ready to embrace an everyday role with the Dodgers, but careful reasoning suggests that he may be much more valuable off the bench in a utility role.
Because Hernández can cover many different positions, the number of looks he gets at the plate shouldn’t really be limited. And if injuries play any factor at shortstop, second or third base, we may see him on the field every day, anyway — despite the ugly splits.
We took a look at the roster depth just a few weeks ago, and although the backup options in the infield should be fine defensively, the offensive firepower would certainly stand to suffer.
Even with the signing of Elian Herrera, there’s really not a strong backup option for Justin Turner at third or Corey Seager at short, except for Hernández. And depending on how the Dodgers decide to configure their outfield come Opening Day, Hernández could be the best possible alternative to Joc Pederson in center field as well.
There’s still no guessing how the Alex Guerrero situation plays out, so the depth factor in the infield may be worse than it currently appears.
The 2016 season may see the super-utility role as being far more important for the Dodgers than anticipated, and nobody stands to fill that spot better than Enrique Hernández.
Considering the possibilities and the needs, by no means would providing depth at 4-5 different positions be considered a backseat role, nor dictate a player’s future.
Just ask Justin Turner.
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