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Dodgers: Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez’s Second Base Timeshare Comparison

Both players have comparable numbers, but one player is better all around.



With Gavin Lux being optioned, the starting second base job for the Dodgers will officially be filled by committee. The three players associated with this job are Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor, and occasionally Max Muncy. With Muncy’s position being primarily at first base, Taylor and Hernandez are primed to share most of the time at this position.

That said, I decided to compare and contrast the two righties… the deep dive into their numbers surprised me — Kiké’s big opening night notwithstanding.

Overall Career Splits

Chris
Taylor
Enrique
Hernandez
RHP .265 .330 .436 .766 RHP .221 .288 .384 .762
LHP .258 .334 .449 .783 LHP .266 .350 .478 .829

At first glance, it's easy to see that Taylor is the more well-rounded hitter versus any arm on the mound. However, Kiké in his career has mashed lefties better than Taylor. While Kiké's numbers versus righties are fairly ugly, a look at his numbers over the last few years shows he has slowly improved against them.

2019 splits are heavily in favor of Chris Taylor. I won't post the numbers, but CT3's OPS was 100 points higher than Kiké's at both sides of the plate. By OPS+, wRC+, and most other offensive metrics, Chris Taylor's more recent sample sizes are vastly better than Kiké Hernandez.

Advantage: Chris Taylor by a good amount.

In The Clutch

Kiké Hernandez is surprisingly clutch compared to his overall numbers. With 2 outs and RISP, his slash line was .302/.362/.604 for the 2019 season. This is impressive. Removing the 2-out qualifier, he hit .277 with runners in scoring position overall. The problem for Kiké is when you're competing for the 2nd base job, you don't want to compare clutch numbers with Chris Taylor.

Chris Taylor's slash line with 2 outs and RISP from 2019 was a robust .302/.450/.500. He may not have had the same amount of power as Kiké in the clutch, but a .450 OBP in the clutch is the very definition of passing the baton. In 2019 overall he hit .341 with runners in scoring position. That is a fantastic number.

  • Kiké Hernandez High Leverage Batting Average: .220
  • Chris Taylor High Leverage Batting Average: .389

That's not a small difference.

Advantage: Chris Taylor by a lot.

Defense

Before most of you groan and your eyes glaze over some FanGraphs stats, I assure you the numbers will be brief. Mostly, Taylor and Hernandez are fairly similar at second base. Kiké played almost five times the amount of innings at second base, so his sample size for error is higher. That said, their UZR rating (Ultimate Zone Rating) in runs above average at second base for 2019 is only .2 points apart.

Overall defensive WAR (per FanGraphs) heavily favor Kiké.

  • Chris Taylor Defensive WAR: -1.8
  • Kiké Hernandez Defensive WAR: 3.1

Advantage: Kiké Hernandez by a little.

Conclusion

In my opinion, this answer is easy. Chris Taylor should get the lion's share of the second base playing time. If there is a right-handed pitcher starting against the Dodgers, CT3 should always start. Kiké Hernandez should get the start against left-handed pitchers -- especially the more elite ones, where his numbers are even better. Chris Taylor has had a hot 'summer camp' leading up to this bizarre 60 game season, so that really cements that he should get the starting job.

The good news for both Kiké and CT3 is that they can play anywhere. When one is not playing second base, we're likely to see the other plugged in elsewhere or playing as the designated hitter in this strange 2020. The Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches, and they should use them accordingly.

NEXT: Over/Under Predictions for the 2020 Season

Written by AJ Gonzalez

AJ is a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in California. His whole family are also lifelong Dodgers fans. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, daughter, beagle, and strat.

Comments

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  1. Go Kike. Nothing against Taylor. Like got a shot at second base last year and didn’t do that well. But he’s off and running out the gate. I thought Lux should have been traded during the offseason while his stock was still high. Now he’s not even on the roster. Great move to lock up Mookie. The Dodgers have the best outfield in baseball regardless of who’s in left field. Mookie was in the two spot in the batting order with Muncy leading off. Those positions should be flipped. Mookie should lead off all the time. He proved in the opener that he can create runs where other people would freeze at third base. Great start for May. Great start for the Dodgers.

    • Mookie batted first, second, third, and fourth for the Red Sox. The Dodgers have led the NL in runs scored two straight seasons. They scored eight runs last night. Leave the lineup card to the professionals and just enjoy the games. Btw, Lux’s value is still sky-high and he isn’t being traded. His time will come. Mickey Mantle got sent down after a slow start in his rookie year. Willie Mays started out 1-25 that same year. George Brett went 5-40. Mike Trout 8-51. Max Muncy batted .184 his first month as a Dodger. Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and many other HOF-caliber pitchers were hammered when they arrived. Koufax struggled for six years. Would you have traded them too? Look at what happened after Lasorda pushed for Pedro Martinez and Paul Konerko to be traded. Look at the Mets and Nolan Ryan.

  2. Good work but hopefully, this is a moot point and Lux just takes the job by the end of the year.

    • Funny how Roberts did exactly what I said he should do and had Betts in the leadoff spot and Muncy in the two spot for game two. Guess I don’t have to leave these things to the professionals. As for Lux. Good luck with that crystal ball where you are so sure he’s a future hall of famer. I don’t have a crystal ball, I’ll just have to keep using brains instead. By the way when Betts won the MVP the vast majority of his at bats were from the leadoff spot. He has clearly stated a preference to leadoff, and the Dodgers haven’t had a real leadoff hitter for a very long time. You don’t have to be a “professional” to figure this one out. You just have to have a brain.

  3. Not so sure about your stats on Taylor. He must have led the league in SO with a runner on third with less than 2 outs last season.

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