You know Jonathan Herrera‘s game by now. He plays steady defense, makes a lot of solid contact at the plate, smacks his gum with unbridled consistency, draws lines in the dirt, and he is one the poster boys for guys who “play hard” and “play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
He’s a utility guy, and his versatility is valuable. While he might not overwhelm you at any point during the season, it is comforting to know that he can step in just about anywhere and not be a disaster. Example: he did most of his work for the Rockies in 2013 at shortstop (42 games) to cover for injuries to Troy Tulowitzki. Oh, and he played seven innings of left field too. So there’s that.
Average is the word you’re looking for if you want to describe Herrera’s game. That is not meant to be an insult. Over the years he has been reliable, ready to play whenever the Rockies need him. That included a stint as a regular in the starting lineup, which in turn led to the realization that he is just not cut out to be in the starting lineup. With that, Herrera is left as a versatile bench player who fields well enough and hits for contact.
For the 2013 season, Herrera batted a solid .292/.336/.364 in 215 plate appearances. He played middle-of-the-road defense in the infield which, once again, is not meant to be as insulting as it sounds. Here is the question the Rockies must consider though: can they afford to keep a guy like Herrera around?
The versatility of Herrera as a utility man would be a valuable asset to a team with more proven talent on its roster. He is kind of a luxury to a playoff-level team. In the meantime you have the Rockies, who are mediocre and who likely need to thrive on a deep roster with impact players up and down it. They need a really good 4th outfielder or a really good back-up infielder with pop.
As they deal with injuries and the development of prospects, you could at least argue that they need to hoard more players with higher ceilings. If that is the case, then Herrera is occupying a valuable spot on the roster with his known-to-be-lower ceiling.
In the end, these are all just musings that won’t matter. The Rockies are ridiculously loyal, and boy do they love them some Jonathan Herrera. Don’t get me wrong, because I love cheering for Johnny…I’m just not sure he fits. But come next season, that opinion won’t matter, because you better believe Herrera will be there.
As for a season grade, let’s make it an “S.” We knew what we were getting from Herrera, and so in that pass/fail context, he did just fine.