From Opening Day to July 22 last season, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez slashed .271/.378/.382 with 100 hits spanning 98 games and 434 plate appearances.
Over his next 63 games to conclude his sixth season in red pinstripes, Hernandez slashed just .225/.322/.331 with nearly half as many hits (53) spanning 274 plate appearances.
Most noticed Hernandez's sharp statistical drop off in 2018, considering he produced a .294 batting average in each of the previous two seasons, along with a MLB-best 11 triples in 2016.
As it turns out, Hernandez's downturn was likely due to injury. Hernandez played 63 games with a a broken foot in the latter half of the season, after fouling a pitch off his foot on July 22, away against the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to The Athletic's Meghan Montemurro.
Montemurro tweeted before Hernandez's first game with the undisclosed injury (a late-inning appearance) that he was not in the starting lineup because the Phillies were "managing his sore right foot, stemming from the foul ball he hit off it in Pittsburgh."
Manager Gabe Kapler said at the time that he thought Hernandez would return to the lineup the following day, and that he did. In fact, Hernandez played the entirety of a 16-inning game against the Los Angeles Dodgers that took five hours and 55 minutes. He went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts.
The signs were all there that Hernandez was hurting. And yet, he finished the season with a broken foot.
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According to Matt Klentak, Hernandez did not need surgery after the season, and that his foot "healed properly on its own." The Phillies chose to enter the arbitration process with Hernandez, who was reported to be on the trade block amid the Phillies' infield overhaul that brought Rhys Hoskins to first base, and Jean Segura to shortstop.
While Manny Machado could be the next addition, Hernandez is expected to stay. The Phillies are "not inclined" to trade him, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who says the club believes, now that his foot has healed, "[Hernandez] will return to 2016-17 production."
Scott Kingery, Zolecki adds, likely will return to the super-utility role that assumed to begin his rookie season in 2018.