Cheap Speed with Odubel Herrera
My general rule towards the end of a dynasty roster is that talent rules all, but as I talked about last week having a job can be just as important. So once again we return to the bottom of the barrel and the Phillies. This offseason the Phillies took a middle infielder from the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, and then threw him in the outfield. That player, Odubel Herrera, now appears to have a full time job all locked up.
Herrera is unlikely to be a long term asset, but his value is all in the here and now. This spring he is hitting .357/.400/.381, coming off a winter in which he led the Venezuela Winter League with a .372/.432/.556 line and a 2014 where he lead the Texas league with a .321/.373/.402 line. He can really hit, and it is a skill that looks like it should translate well to the majors. The power does not appear to be there, and while he had 23 extra base hits in 58 games this winter, his past two year in the minors have seen him with 25 and 26 extra base hits in 130 and 125 games respectively. At best you are only going to get 2 or maybe 3 home runs out of him, and he is unlikely to be driving in a ton of runners either.
The draw here is speed. Last year he stole 21 bases, but was caught 10 times, this spring he has 5 stolen bases in 13 games, and has not been caught stealing (though he has been picked off a couple of times). He has the green light and is going to run early and often, and while he may not have a success rate that will give him a ton of real life value, it is good enough for our purposes. If he continues to work counts enough to draw enough walks for a respectable on base percentage you could see 20+ stolen bases this year fairly easily in a normal environment.
The Phillies are really bad. The outfield situation for the Phillies right now is Herrera, Ben Revere, a one legged Domonic Brown (who might not be good), the corpse of Grady Sizemore, and a first baseman. There is a good case that outside of factors like his Rule 5 status and the team’s push to get younger, that Herrera is actually one of the three best outfielders on the team. His job is about as secure as any non-established player, and because of the current state of the Phillies farm system, there is not an outfield prospect who should take his playing time in 2015.
Outside of job security, the Phillies offer a big opportunity for Herrera to bad his stolen base stats. Last year the Phillies were 6th in baseball in total stolen bases, with 109. Like many teams on the list, the bulk of that number comes from a couple of players, in this case Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins combined for 77 stolen bases out of the top two spot in the lineup. Rollins is now in Los Angeles, and it appears that Herrera could see time in both the lead off and #2 spot in the lineup where the Phillies like to run. To top that off, the Phillies have said they will be playing small ball this year because their offense is so putrid. This means that Herrera will be allowed and expected to run constantly, allowing him to add on some extra stolen bases that he wouldn’t for another team.
Putting all together:
Last year 26 outfielders stole at least 20 bases. Of those 15 hit at least .270, so Herrera won’t be in rarefied company in the outfield. However, while Herrera will be playing most of his games in the outfield this year, as a second baseman up until this year, he should have second base eligibility all year (and possibly into the future depending on the health of Chase Utley). At second base, 6 players stole at least 20 bases last year (Gordon, Altuve, Bonifacio, Kipnis, Dozier, Wong). Of those players, only Gordon and Altuve hit at least .259. Looking at second base gives us some interesting comps for what a Herrera season could look like:
What we have is the high and low of what to expect from Herrera this year (except Gordon’s SB numbers are likely unattainable, even by him). Add in that last year at the top of the Phillies lineup Ben Revere had 71 runs and 28 RBI. What you have is a player that might give you .270-.280 with 25-35 stolen bases and an empty 3 categories. He is also more likely to be available in your dynasty league than your redraft league because he was outside of the Ranger’s Top 30 prospects a year ago.