A pleasant surprise off the bench in 2016, Marco Hernandez was expected to do a lot of the same in 2017 – hit a little, play around the infield, and be a solid major leaguer who could really shore up the Red Sox’s infield depth. He could’ve probably overtaken Brock Holt as the first man off the bench, had his season not ended on May 12th.
The Red Sox were forced to go through a lot of infielders in 2017, and Hernandez going down was one of the reasons why.
What Went Right
Not a lot, really. It’s hard to have good times when your season ended 60 plate appearances in, and you weren’t even on the Opening Day roster to begin with. But he did have one cool moment, way back at the tail-end of April, which started with Hernandez beating old friend Koji Uehara to first base to get himself an infield single:
And that culminated with Hernandez scoring the go-ahead run later that inning:
See, that’s pretty neat. Silver linings and all that.
What Went Wrong
He wasn’t on the 25-man roster for Opening Day because the Red Sox thought they needed Steve Selsky more than him, despite a good Grapefruit League showing by Hernandez. Then he was finally added to the roster when Xander Bogaerts went on the bereavement list.
A month later, Hernandez would have to be taken out of a game after hurting himself:
Seems innocuous, right? Just a little pinch in the shoulder? It wasn’t. He was put on the disabled list the next day with a left shoulder subluxation, and eight days after that, it was announced that he would need season-ending surgery on said shoulder. Poor Marco.
What To Expect
It’s hard to analyze Hernandez’s hitting in the majors with just 116 plate appearances total, but he can hit a bit with a little power mixed in there. His last stint in the minors came with a .309/.343/.444 slash line, so it’ll be a waste to have him stay there for much longer. He’ll probably pan out and be a solid major league contributor when all is said and done, provided he recovers well from surgery and he doesn’t get bounced off the roster for a worse player.
However, with Dustin Pedroia needing several months to recover from knee surgery, Hernandez is, as of today, the leading candidate to start in his place. The Red Sox have soured a little on Brock Holt, as they might’ve (finally!) realized that he can’t be a day-to-day starter. The other options at second base are Deven Marrero – a player who I’ve said the phrase “if he could only hit” about far too much – and Tzu-Wei Lin, who did well during his time in the majors in 2017, but will probably need more plate appearances in Pawtucket more than anything. With Eduardo Nunez coming back not a sure thing, Hernandez currently tops the depth chart at the keystone.
Had Pedroia been healthy, Hernandez might’ve faced the same outcome as he did in 2017: as the 26th man for a 25-man roster. With some playing time opening up, we’ll see more of him than we have in the past two seasons combined, and he’ll hopefully come out of it looking like a player with a little upside that won’t hurt you when he plays. He’s got the skills. Now he just needs the time to show them off.
Photo by Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports