Monday, October 12, 2009

Jeremy Hermida: A Steal Going Unnoticed?

He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia during a time when the Atlanta Braves dominated the National League East and made the playoffs year after year. Since becoming a major league player in 2005, Florida Marlins outfielder Jeremy Hermida has yet to make the playoffs with the Marlins. The closest he has come to making the playoffs was 2009 when they finished 87-75 and in second place in the National League East.

When Hermida entered the league in 2005 he was considered one of the most talented minor leaguers in all of baseball. Baseball America rated him as high as the #4 prospect in baseball in their 2006 pre-season edition. Three years in a row he was the Florida Marlins #1 prospect according to Baseball America.

In the minor leagues, Jeremy Hermida put up some staggering numbers at the plate. In 2005, Jeremy Hermida walked 111 times in 118 games in AA, an incredible amount for a minor league player that at the time was only 21 years old. Much more then power, Hermida flashed discipline (.398 career minor league OBP) and speed (67 steals in 77 attempts). Twice he stole 20 or more bases in a season. His raw tools all showed in the minors and early on in the major leagues.

In his first real taste of the major leagues in 2006, Jeremy Hermida hit .251 with only 25 extra base hits in 99 games. His .700 OPS wasn't what many expected him to be. Worse yet, Hermida's seemingly fantastic tool (discipline) had disappeared as he walked just 33 times in the 99 games. In 2007, though, Jeremy Hermida showed more power, hitting 18 homeruns in 123 games. He batted .296 in more or less his second season in the big leagues and had an .870 OPS (125 OPS+), displaying why he was rated so high by Baseball America.

The two seasons since what looked like a breakout year in 2007, however, have led to many questions over his future and whether he will live up to the hype that surrounded him when he first came up. People, especially Marlins fans, have questioned his desire to play the game.

Whether those are true or not, I am still a believer that Hermida could still be a quality hitter, and one big reason why is the ballpark he plays in.

The Florida Marlins are known to play in a park that routinely favors pitchers. Their park factor according to baseball-reference.com:

2009:
Batting- 97
Pitching- 97
Jeremy Hermida- .259/.348/.392/.740

2008:
Batting- 97
Pitching- 97
Jeremy Hermida- .249/.323/.406/.729

2007:
Batting- 100
Pitching- 101
Jeremy Hermida- .296/.369/.501/.870

2006:
Batting-94
Pitching- 94
Jeremy Hermida- .251/.332/.368/.700

In "Park Factor", anything over 100 favors hitters, while anything under 100 favors pitchers.

Notice how the years that Jeremy Hermida has put up sub-par OPS's, are the years that the park factor in Florida has been under 100, while the year it was pretty fair, Hermida put up an .870 OPS for the season.

Could it be a coincidence? Possibly, he could just be struggling since then. Or maybe Jeremy Hermida is a fairly above average hitter playing in a park that hurts him. So, let's take a look at the home/road splits, which make it even more obvious that he's been hurt by being in Florida.

2009:
Home- .267/.349/.364/.713
Road- .250/.347/.422/.769

2008:
Home- .203/.273/.312/.585
Road- .288/.364/.487/.851

2007:
Home- .267/.333/.452/.785
Road- .324/.401/.548/.949

2006:
Home- .259/.335/.380/.715
Road- .242/.329/.356/.685


So, seeing these, other then 2006, Jeremy Hermida has hit better on the road in three of his four seasons, while hitting much better on the road in 2007 and 2008 than at home. Jeremy Hermida hasn't helped himself all the time by being much less disciplined around the plate now than he was in the minors, and no I'm not going to say that getting out of Florida would all of the sudden make him a star. However, I will say that I believe if the Florida Marlins trade (give away) Jeremy Hermida or possibly even non-tender him like has been talked about, then a team that plays in more of a neutral or hitters park could very well get the steal of this offseason and a player who could put them over the top.

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