Follow the bouncing Odubel, and enjoy the journey

Odubel Herrera breaks his bat off a pitch from the Padres' Colin Rea. This swing notwithstanding, Herrera could break the team record for walks in a month.

That Odubel Herrera is a fascinating case goes without saying. He is a Phillies player you can’t help but watch. The bat flips are an obvious thing, but it isn’t just that. It is the way he touches excellence oftentimes, and the way he flirts with slapstick at other times. He is still a young player, and there are two things everybody should be reminded about when it comes to young players: They can develop and get better, and they can become more consistent. 

That said, trying to figure out exactly where he is going to end up as a player is as much fun as watching him. Because he can be so good. And because you just don’t know.

In an attempt to document the Odubel adventure, here are some simple charts measuring some simple stuff.

First up, batting average on balls in play, measured by month.


Should Ruben Amaro Jr. get some of the credit for the Phillies’ improvement?

Herrera had the highest BABIP in the majors from the start of 2015 all the way through late May of 2016. It was in the .380s, which is not a sustainable number. Now it is falling, as all math and logic suggested it would. So where does it settle in?

Next is walks per plate appearance.

A lot of the conversation at the start of this season was how, with those 23 walks in April, Herrera had demonstrated his growth as a player and somehow turned a significant corner in his development. But it was a crazy number, and it predictably fell off in a big way. So where does this settle in?

Herrera’s on-base average is plummeting, too. But his home runs are up. April and May were excellent this year, the first few weeks of June were rough, then there were a couple of good weeks, then a terrible few days heading into the All-Star break, when he will represent the Phillies in San Diego.

The unorthodox stance, the bat flips, the fact that he can look so bad at the plate, in the field and on the bases on occasion — and so spectacularly good on more occasions — all add up to one of the more interesting players this town has seen in a while. This really is one time when we all should enjoy the journey.