Hernandez ready to run atop Phillies' lineup

Second baseman played through foot fracture last season

February 18th, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Early in Jimmy Rollins' career he thought he could score 150 runs in a season hitting ahead of Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, and Pat Burrell. Rollins scored 139 in 2007, when he won the National League MVP Award.

It remains the second-highest single-season run total in baseball in the past 11 seasons.

scored 91 runs last season, the Phillies' highest mark since Rollins scored 102 in 2012. Now the luster is no longer there for players who score 100 runs or post 100 RBIs, but Hernandez should score at least 100 runs this season, if he stays healthy and if the Phillies' offense improves as expected. It should be much better with , , and hitting behind him, assuming Hernandez remains in the leadoff spot, and free agents or could join them in the coming days or weeks.

"Everyone knows that they're really, really good players," Hernandez said about Harper and Machado on Monday morning at Spectrum Field. "If it's one of them, it's one of them. If we can get both of them, I'll take both of them."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Hernandez, 28, showed up to camp this spring with about 10 pounds of extra muscle and bleached-blond hair.

He also showed up healthy.

Hernandez broke his right foot in early July, when he fouled a pitch off the foot in Pittsburgh. He played through the pain the rest of the way, receiving X-rays every week to make sure the bone was healing properly.

But his production suffered. He hit just .236 with a .329 on-base percentage and a .665 OPS the remainder of the season.

"It affected me in every single way," Hernandez said. "I couldn't really stand hard on that foot. If I was batting lefty, it was the foot that I had in front. If I was batting righty, that's where I put all my weight. I just wanted to keep playing because we're in first place. I wanted to help the team make a push for the playoffs."

Hernandez hit .268 with a .379 OBP and a .764 OPS before the injury. He posted a combined .294 batting average, .372 OBP and .778 OPS in 2016-17.

It is why he will open the season as the Phillies' leadoff hitter.

"He is an ideal leadoff hitter," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He sees a lot of pitches, he fouls balls off, has a great eye at the plate, spits on balls in the dirt, can drive the ball out of the ballpark. Those are all things that we value in the top spot of the lineup. I think we're going to give Cesar a long look, and from my perspective, he has all the characteristics and all of the talent to take down that leadoff spot."