Odubel Herrera is going to the MLB All-Star Game, a much-deserved recognition of what he has done for the Phillies this season.
The 2016 MLB All-Star rosters were announced on Tuesday and as expected, the lone representative for the Philadelphia Phillies, as chosen by NL manager, Terry Collins, is El Torito himself, Odubel Herrera.
A Rule 5 draft pick from 2014, Herrera came to the Phillies as an infielder out of the Texas Rangers farm system. A second baseman by trade, Herrera had only played two games at centerfield and only 13 total in the outfield during his minors career. However, the Phillies had a second baseman at the time by the name of Chase Utley, so it was clear that if Herrera was going to stick on the roster, he’d have to pick up a new position.
Having also played a good deal of games at shortstop, that seemed like the logical next move but again, the Phillies had a shortstop in Jimmy Rollins and a utility infielder in Freddy Galvis to play both short and second when the veterans needed rest.
What the Phillies didn’t have however was depth in the outfield. So despite having played just 13 games there over the course of a six-year minor league career, Herrera was used in the outfield in his first year in the majors, specifically as a platoon center fielder.
Quickly adapting to the position and outlasting a slew of other potential outfield candidates with his bat, Herrera was named the team’s starting center fielder for the 2016 season. And in the middle of a year of lows, he has simply been one of few highs.
Batting .305 and carrying a career .299 average, Herrera has delivered with the bat the way his minor league stats and two batting titles always suggested he would. And as for the All-Star selection, it is more than justified, even if he was only chosen as a result of the “every team must have at least one representative” rule created in 2010.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 5, 2016
The 24-year-old native of Venezuela ranks among the top at his position in runs scored (48; 3rd in NL), hits (96; 2nd in NL), home runs (10; 6th in NL), RBI (33; 4th in NL), walks (43; 1st in NL), stolen bases (12; 3rd in NL), average (.305; 3rd in NL), OBP (.390; 2nd in NL), slugging (.444; 5th in NL) and OPS (.834; 5th in NL). All numbers have him on pace for career highs.
He’ll join Marcell Ozuna (MIA), Dexter Fowler (CHC), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Carlos Gonzalez (COL) and Bryce Harper (WAS) as the outfielders on the roster.
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It is hard to say if Herrera still would have made the team if not for the rule. On one hand, Collins did select him and not one of the Phillies random bullpen arms like Jeanmar Gomez or Hector Neris, as is often the case with these mandatory selections. On the other, his stats while good, aren’t exactly what you’d expect to see from an All-Star.
Regardless of the reasons why he was named to the team, all that matters is that he’ll be there as a first time All-Star. And in a year where the Phillies haven’t had much to celebrate, Herrera in the All-Star Game certainly fits the bill.