Traded: Jeremy Hermida to Boston

Earlier this decade, OF Jeremy Hermida was pegged for stardom. But following yesterday’s trade to the Boston Red Sox for LHP’s Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez, Hermida may well have completed his descent from franchise building block to bench warmer.

Florida snagged the lefty hitter with the 11th overall selection in the 2002 amateur draft. Despite his youth, Hermida possessed exceptional polish for a high school bat. The Georgia prep product’s 2002 and 2003 seasons in the minors were modestly productive, as he displayed superb strike-zone control but little extra-base pop.

Hermida began to tap into his power in 2004, batting .297/.377/.441 in the pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League. But it was his thunderous 2005 campaign that made him perhaps the most coveted position prospect in the minors. As a 21 year-old in the AA Southern League, Hermida hammered pitchers for a .293/.457/.518 triple slash. He drew a walk in a jaw-dropping 21.9% of his PA, while popping 18 homers and posting a .225 ISO.

Getting his first extended look in the majors in 2006, Hermida didn’t hit the ground running. Limited by a hip flexor injury, he compiled a modest .310 wOBA in 348 PA. Hermida rarely found the gaps or lifted one over the fence (.117 ISO), but his trademark plate discipline was present. He walked 9.7% of the time, offering at just 19% of pitches tossed outside the strike zone (25% MLB avg).

Hermida appeared to arrive in 2007. In 484 PA for the Fish, he raked to the tune of a .372 wOBA. Hermida’s BABIP was very high at .356, but he walked 9.9% of the time, with a 22.2 O-Swing%. And, he made major strides in the power department. Hermida slugged 18 round-trippers, with a .205 ISO.

Considering Hermida’s age and minor league track record, he appeared poised to bust out in 2008. Instead, Hermida’s once-pristine plate approach eroded.

Jeremy chased nearly 28% of pitches thrown out of the zone. Compounding matters, he took a cut at fewer pitches within the strike zone (59.6%, compared to about 64% the previous two seasons; the MLB avg is 65-66%). Swinging at more pitches in the dirt and taking more offerings over the plate-that’s not exactly what one would have expected from a guy who resembled a Brian Giles clone as a prospect. Hermida’s wOBA dipped to .321.

In 2009, Hermida did a better job of working the count. His O-Swing% fell back down to 23.9%, though his Z-Swing% remained low at 61.7%. The 25 year-old’s walk rate climbed to 11.5%. Hermida experienced a power outage, however:

Hermida’s ISO, by year

7208_OF_season_blog_6_20091006

Since that high-water mark in 2007, Hermida’s ISO has plummeted: .157 in ’08, and a .133 figure in ’09. His HR/FB rate was 15.7% in 2007, 13% in 2008 and just 10.1% in 2009.

Hermida’s performance against left-handed pitching has taken a turn for the worse over the past few seasons:

Hermida’s wOBA vs. LHP, by year

7208_OF_season__lr_blog_8_20091006

Baseball-Reference keeps a stat called sOPS+, which compares a player’s performance in a given split to the league average. 100 is average, above 100 is above-average for batters, and below 100 is below-average for hitters. Here are Hermida’s sOPS+ figures vs. LHP since 2007:

2007: 128
2008: 108
2009: 72

I would caution against reading too much into platoon splits, as how a batter performs overall is more informative than just how he does against LHP or RHP.

Hermida’s BABIP against lefties was .359 in ’07, .293 in ’08 and just .233 in ’09. That sort of thing can happen when your sample size is about 120 PA per year. There’s not much to suggest that Hermida is good against lefties, but he probably won’t continue to look like Tony Pena Jr. against southpaws, either.

26 in January, Hermida has reached a career crossroads. Boston snagged the arbitration-eligible outfielder on the cheap, hoping that there’s still some vestige of that top prospect left.

From a fantasy standpoint, the swap does damage to whatever value Hermida had. It’s doubtful that he was draft-worthy in most leagues to begin with. But the Red Sox certainly do not figure to enter the 2010 season guaranteeing ample PA to a guy who has been just a smidge above replacement-level the past two seasons.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


8 Responses to “Traded: Jeremy Hermida to Boston”

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  1. Southsider says:

    I had the first three picks in a DMB based sim league for players gaining “rookie” status the year before, my top 3 picks were King Felix, Liriano and Hermida. I think I jinxed the last two! But that is how highly touted Hermida was, I thought he was can’t miss top OF slugger. The same draft I could have had Prince Fielder among a few other top names.

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  2. Sean Fairchild says:

    These charts are so funny, he hasnt even yet played ONE FULL SEASON. HE WAS ONY 25 THIS YEAR. I guarantee he hits at least 25 hr next year.

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  3. Sean Fairchild says:

    Why even bother with the over-analysis when the guy averaged 3 PA per 128 games.

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  4. KY says:

    Tomorrow, when you talk about the JJ Hardy trade, can you try to do the entire article without mentioning the name …. …. grrrruuuuuphf “Carlso Gomez” whewww, please? Its too painful for Brewers fans right now and if we are starting to get over it by morning you will just reset the process. And be sure to mention that Doug Melvin could have had the exact same situation if not better by simply keeping Tony Gwynn Jr. mid season if that was his goal. Thanks.

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  5. Sean Fairchild says:

    KY, yeah, man! What the heck happened to TG Jr. He should platoon with Gomez, where is that kid? Gomez is a 9 hitter, maybe he can get on base and steal second with that 298. OBP. Some twins fans said he is not even that great of a CF, maybe they were referring to his all around offense and defense.

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