Was Odubel Herrera the Phillies’ Last Remaining Option in Centerfield?

MLB: MAY 14 Brewers at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 14: Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera (37) heads towards third during the MLB game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies on May 14, 2019 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

In a shocking turn of events, the Phillies announced that they have recalled Odubel Herrera on Monday. Herrera, 29, will be the starting centerfielder tonight, batting seventh as the Phillies face the Cardinals.

Herrera will make his first major league appearance in nearly two years following his domestic abuse case in May 2019. The outfielder was suspended 85 games by Major League Baseball and spent the entirety of the shortened 2020 season away from the game.

Spring Training Re-emergence

While Herrera was not expected to win the centerfield job at Spring Training, his invitation to camp caught many eyes. After a hot start to camp, however, Herrera began to fizzle. He hit for a .231 BA with a .726 OPS throughout Spring Training. While Scott Kingery had the worst Spring Training of the lot, Herrera was not much better. In fact, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, and Mickey Moniak had all had a better Spring than the former All-Star.

A Domino Effect of Attrocious Play

And then the regular season started. With Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley splitting time in centerfield out of the gate, the Phillies started to feel a gaping black hole of production out of centerfield.

After two weeks of terrible play, Adam Haseley stepped away from the team in a move that shocked everyone. He was batting .190 at the time he stepped away. While his time at the plate was horrendous from the Phillies’ vantage point, his departure is even more so as Haseley is another example of the growing issue of mental health in professional baseball.

When Haseley left the team, Mickey Moniak rejoined the team for another chance to prove the 22-year old’s worth. In his nine games since being called up, Moniak was unable to adjust, batting .120 in 25 at bats, racking up a dozen strikeouts.

Then there is Roman Quinn, who is batting 2-for-31 on the season. The worst-performing among the Phillies’ options remains on the team while Moniak was sent down to make room for Odubel Herrera.

Given the lack of production from a team that is supposed to be all-in this year, something had to be done. And now the Phillies find themselves calling up a player who owned a .222 BA and a 64 OPS+ in his most recent season two years ago.

To the Fans

Fans, I am now writing this directly to you. Since Herrera has been called up, I have seen a lot of division within the Phillies fandom regarding Herrera. One side does not want anything to do with Herrera being on the Phillies. These fans cannot look past the abuse Herrera displayed to his girlfriend. Many, likely, see that and are reminded of their own scars, or of someone they know who has been through a similar trauma. At the end of the day, these people cannot look past the human aspect of the game. They believe that to play the game is a privilege, one that should be taken away if you do not deserve it.

Then there is the other side that believes that Herrera should be on the team. Maybe they see him as the Phillies’ best option in centerfield. Maybe they see a man who has been suspended and served his time who should be given a second chance.

There are also those on each side whose opinions do not bear much credence. Those just looking for attention, for clicks, or to call out every mistake anyone has ever made (spoiler alert, we are all human).

Coming Together

But to those who I mentioned above, on both sides, I say this: look for the similarities over the difference. We are talking about the Phillies’ fandom here. We should be united as Phillies fans first. Yes, there will be people who cannot support Herrera becasue of what he has done. There will also be those that can forgive him. You can coexist with each other. You can respectfully disagree while still supporting the Phillies.

To be honest, I don’t fully know where I stand. Odubel Herrera has done some terrible things. I know people who have been hurt in cases similar to this one, that the pain is real. But I also know, as a Christian, that I am called to forgive a brother “seventy times seven” times. I believe in second chances and yet have gone on the record stating that Herrera will not truly get it here.

But I do know this. The Phillies play tonight, as they will most nights through at least September. I know that I will be rooting for the Phillies each night, as many of you will as well. And while the player in the seven-hole will spark division for days, weeks, even months to come, it does not change the common denominator between us all.

Now let’s root, root for the Phillies.

Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire