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Dodgers: Who Replaces the Versatile Kiké Hernandez in 2021?

Who can the Dodgers count on to replace the super utility man in 2021?



Dodgers’ fan favorite Kiké Hernandez is officially gone. Hernandez signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox worth $14M on Tuesday, ending his time in blue.

Kiké brought many valuable things to the Dodgers over his six years with the club, including right-handed power and the infamous banana suit. But nothing was more important to Los Angeles than his versatility.

With the utility man gone, who can the Dodgers rely on in 2021?

Gavin Lux

Count Lux amongst the sea of humanity who couldn’t wait for 2020 to end. He was late to spring training 2.0 and did not impress at the plate nor in the field. After being picked by many experts to win the 2020 NL ROY, Lux didn’t even make the Opening Day roster. Lux appeared in just 16 games in 2020 and produced a meager slash line (.175/.246/.349).

What Went Wrong for Gavin Lux in 2020 and Why He Could Break Out in 2021!

However, successful franchises don’t write off 23-year-old former number two overall prospects based on 16 games.

The Dodgers aren’t the Rockies.

No, Lux doesn’t have the positional versatility of Kiké, but he has far more upside as a complete hitter. Between AA and AAA in 2019, Lux posted an absurd .421 OBP and a 1.028 OPS. Kiké posted a below-league-average OBP in four of his six seasons with LA while hitting .240.

Kiké Hernandez OBP (League Average)

  • 2015: .346 (.317)
  • 2016: .283 (.322)
  • 2017: .308 (.324)
  • 2018: .336 (.318)
  • 2019: .304 (.323)
  • 2020: .270 (.322)

If Lux can reach or get damn near close to his potential, the Dodgers should have their replacement at second base for years to come.

But that’s just second base. What about more versatility?

Chris Taylor

CT3 is the Dodgers insurance policy if Lux can’t perform in 2021. Taylor and his glorious caterpillar eyebrows can play capable defense at five different positions. 2018 was Taylor’s worst as a hitter when he led the NL in strikeouts (178), but 2020 was encouraging (.842 OPS).

Taylor Walk Rate/K Rate

  • 2017: 8.8% / 25.0%
  • 2018: 9.1% / 29.5%
  • 2019: 8.9% / 27.8%
  • 2020: 12.2% / 25.7%

Taylor was already a tremendous fit on a team that values positional versatility in order to leverage matchups. Kiké’s departure means more playing time for the quietly productive player, and nobody should complain about that.

However, Taylor has already been a utility stalwart for the Dodgers over the last few seasons. So if, in theory, CT3 replaces Kiké, then someone would need to replace CT3.

The only question about Taylor is his impending free agency after this season.

Zach McKinstry

McKinstry is the dark horse pick to pick up time at second base for the Dodgers in 2021. Primarily playing second, third, and shortstop in his four seasons in the minors, the 25-year-old slashed .270/.357/.416 over 356 career games. He also collected 2 hits in 7 at-bats after making his big league debut in 2020.

According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper and Kyle Glaser, McKinstry “checks all the boxes of being the next guy” and “consistency hits everything…drives the ball on a line”. The player comparisons they threw out? The Padres’ Jake Cronenworth and the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman — both were everyday starters on 2020 playoff teams.

The biggest issue, (which, it’s not really an issue, per se) is that McKinstry is a left-handed batter on a team flush with south-paw swingers as where Kiké provided much-needed right-handed balance to the roster. Moreover, he carries traditional splits over his minor league career, posting a .247 lifetime batting average against lefty pitchers. But, he’s improved along the way and has more room to improve at the big league level, particularly if he can get the number to Austin Barnes’s personal hitting coach Mookie Betts.

Replacing Kiké’s entertaining live interview antics is impossible, but the Dodgers should not have a problem replacing his on-field production.

NEXT: Enrique Hernandez Thanks Fans in LA in Emotional Video

Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of The Series Sweep Podcast (@EEulau).

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  1. Lux having a good year would fortify the Dodgers line up. Second base was the Dodgers weakest position offensiively. Who plays 3rd? Is it Turner? Rios? Or do the Dodger trade a pitcher or two and get a right-handed bat? Players like Suarez or shoot for the moon Ramirez might be available for the right trade.
    Taylor is as this article states a very valuable player and bats from the right-side.
    There are young players like McKinstry that will compete for a spot like Amaya, Mann, Bosch, etc. Beaty is on the roster as well as Rios we shall see. If the Dodgers want they could platoon Rios and Will Smith allowing them to bring up Ruiz.

    • Tmax, whatever takes place those 2 RHB should be replaced with 2 others.JTand perhaps another to replace Kike. I’m ok with Lux, as he does have sock. But my only concern is really to prevent opponents from throwing LHP at random, especially in the later innings. I recall what Roberts pointed out about who actually makes out the lineups– the players do by showing productivity against all comers.

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