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Odubel Herrera has been a Gold Glove-caliber fielder in 2017

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Odubel Herrera's 2017 offensive season has been frustrating from many perspectives. But you can't question the contributions that the 25-year-old has made in the outfield. 

This past offseason, manager Pete Mackanin said that despite prior speculation that the Phillies may move Herrera to a corner outfield position, the team planned to keep him in center field, largely because of how well analytics spoke of his play.

That hasn't changed in 2017. 

Herrera, who actually saw a slight dip in some of his defensive metrics in 2016, is currently rated the best overall fielding center fielder by FanGraphs. According to FanGraphs, he's the league leader among center fielders in dWAR, UZR and UZR/150. He's among the league leaders in both RZR and defensive runs saved.

Additionally, SABR released their first-half defensive index rankings last week, with Herrera coming in as the National League's sixth highest graded overall fielder at any position: 

NL leaders

Player Team Position SDI
Nolan Arenado COL 3B 10.7
DJ LeMahieu COL 2B 9.1
Ender Inciarte ATL CF 8.4
Brandon Belt SFG 1B 7.9
Jason Heyward CHC RF 7.7
Odubel Herrera PHI CF 7.7
Yasmani Grandal LAD C 7.6
Tucker Barnhart CIN C 7.4
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 6.7
Addison Russell CHC SS 6.1
Jedd Gyorko STL 3B 6.0

In fact, dating back to 2015, which was Herrera's first season playing the position, FanGraphs says that Herrera has been the fifth best fielding center fielder in all of the sport. That's rather incredible when you consider that he's been learning how to play the position over the course of that period. 

Putting advanced statistics aside for a second, Herrera has passed the eye test better in 2017 than either of his previous two seasons playing center field. He's always covered ground well, and seems to be getting as good of reads on fly-balls as any outfielder in the league. 

Perhaps his down offensive season will hurt his chances to win his first Gold Glove Award. Of course, that's not how it should work, but in a world where many voters don't watch the sport at a national level regularly and are at best lukewarm with advanced metrics, that may end up being the case. Know this, though: if the season ended today, in a perfect world, Herrera would be battling former Phillie Ender Inciarte for the honor. 


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