It hasn’t been exactly a season to remember for the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, many of us would be perfectly fine if Will Smith activated a neuralizer and “flashy thinged” this entire season. (Of course, that would probably wipe out my joy in the Philadelphia 76ers drafting Markelle Fultz back in June.)
If you ever wonder why I don’t write too much about baseball, there’s one simple reason — which my friend, Rachel (@ThePhilliesGirl), hates, by the way. I’m of the opinion that baseball is meaningless until after the All-Star Break. Baseball is boring to me except for the pennant races in late August/early September.
Sometimes, there will be something really fun and polarizing to dive into, but they’re pretty few and far between. This is one of those moments because Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been crushing it in the second half to this point.
Herrera has impressive splits since the All-Star Break (.404 BA, .477 SLG%, .789 OBP%, 1.26 OPS) with five home runs and 12 RBIs. His hot streak started back in June (.321/.351/.519/.870), and he’s continued it with a pretty damn good July as well (.360/.415/.651/1.066).
In a vacuum, that’s pretty impressive, right? How is he compared to the rest of the league? I’m glad you asked. BaseballReference.com has a stat called “sOPS+”. That stat reflects how a player’s OPS is in relation to the rest of the league. The league average is considered 100. Herrera’s is 229 since the All-Star Break (124 in June and 179 in July).
That’s a pretty damn good tear.
It’s also worth noting that while I don’t believe this stat is officially kept, Herrera likely leads the league in bat flips with 62 (according to @OdubelsBatFlips on Twitter). Number 62 came yesterday in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves when he unleashed a BOMB to the second deck.
(Seriously, guys. I can’t explain in words how much I love Odubel Herrera bat flips.)
Herrera had a very slow start to the season. From March until May, Herrera had a batting average of .223 with a .268 OBP%, .337 SLG%, and a .605 OPS%. Many fans and columnists were quick to run him out of town — which is not hard to understand given the “knee-jerk” reactionism of today’s sports writing.
Thankfully, Herrera is still with the team now that the trade deadline is over. (I really was worried for a second.) He’s dealt with just about everything this season. Herrera had the slow start to the season, then had to comment on words made by Phillies legend Mike Schmidt who said that Herrera couldn’t be a team leader because of the “language barrier” that exists.
Then, there’s the opposition to my favorite part about Herrera’s game: his personality. Say what you want about him, but Herrera plays the game with a certain level of fun I can get behind. The bat flipping and the exuberance he displays is simply infectious. Sure, bat flipping on a ground out is silly, but if Herrera (or anyone else for that matter) wants to flip a bat after sending a small round ball going 90 miles per hour or faster breaking 6-12” 400 feet into the stands, that person can bat flip all he wants.
I won’t get too much into the corny double standard that exists in baseball where pitchers are allowed to exude emotion and pump their chests all they want, but a hitter that does something amazing can’t flex a little bit. It’s stupid, and good luck trying to rationalize it to me. When pitchers unilaterally stop doing it, then fine, I’ll call for an end to bat flipping. Until then, flip yo bat, gentlemen.
Herrera, for the last two months especially, makes watching the Phillies fun. When he’s on the on-deck circle, he’s one of my “I’m not walking away from the television” guys. I’m not walking away from my TV. If I’m at the ballpark, I’m not risking the wait time in a beer line. I want to see him take an at bat.
There should be much more time to enjoy Herrera in a Phillies uniform. He’s signed through 2021 with two club options in 2022 and 2023. He’s only 25, so he’s in that “not young, but not old” portion of his career. Nick Williams was called up, and he has been playing well in 25 games. The next part of the youth movement could be next year if J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, and Rhys Hoskins all come up. (All three of them wouldn’t come up, ideally, but Crawford seems the most likely.)
Herrera is fun to watch in a Phillies uniform, now, and he should be part of the team’s long-term future plans. The core of this team isn’t like the old Yankees “core four” of the 90s or the previous core of Phillies (Rollins, Utley, Howard), but there’s talent in the majors and in the minors.
Saying the Phillies will make the playoffs next year might be a stretch, but continued progress with some smart free agent acquisitions could make something a reality that I honestly can’t wait for:
Odubel Herrera PLAYOFF bat flips.