When Anderson Hernandez debuted in the Majors with the New York Mets on September 18, 2005, MLB.com writer Ben Couch started his article, "Notes: Mets bring up Hernandez", by writing:
"It took an injury to Kaz Matsui, but the Mets are finally ready to see if the future is now at second base.
"Matsui is day-to-day with a strained right hamstring, and the Mets purchased the contract of top infield prospect Anderson Hernandez from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday in response."
Hernandez was 1 for 18, (.067) in that first 6 game stint in the Majors with 4 K's, 1 CS and 1 error (in an appearance at short), and following the season the New York infielder was designated as the 8th best prospect in Mets' organization by Baseball America's Matt Myers in an article entitled, "Top Ten Prospects: New York Mets", after hitting .326 in 66 games with Double-A Binghampton and .303 in 66 with Triple-A Norfolk with 20 doubles, 5 triples, 9 HR's, 54 RBI's and 35 stoles bases combined at both levels before his debut.
Baseball America's Mr. Meyers also recognized Hernandez as the "Best Defensive Infielder" in the organization, (alongside the Mets' "Best Outfielder and Athlete" Lastings Milledge), but the '06 season didn't go so well for Hernandez, who hit .146 with 1 run scored and 7 K's in 12 games and 41 at bats in from April 3-17th before he was placed on the DL with a "bulging disc in his lower back," according to MLB.com writer Bryan Hoch in a 4/19/06 article entitled, "Notes: Hernandez placed on DL".
Hernandez hit .249 at Triple-A Norfolk with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 23 RBI's and 15 steals in 102 games of an extended rehab stint before the Mets called him up again on August 31, 2006 for 25 games in which he went 10 for 66, for a .152 AVG with 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR and 3 RBI's, even making his first postseason appearance with New York, striking out in 1 of 2 hitless at bats in the NLCS against St. Louis.
An impressive offseason in the Dominican Winter League followed, which saw Hernandez, according to MLB.com's Eric Justic's 2/2/07 article entitled, "Hernandez wins postseason batting title", enjoying considerable success against serious competition:
"The second baseman snagged the postseason batting crown after hitting .402 with one home run, 12 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 23 games with Tigres del Licey...In 25 regular-season games, the 24-year-old infielder batted .287 with nine RBIs."
But just six weeks later, on March 29th, Hernandez was among the last cuts from the Mets' roster before the start of the 2007 season, and he remained in Triple-A New Orleans for most of the '07 campaign, appearing in just 4 games with NY while hitting .301 in 128 games for the Triple-A Zephyrs where Hernandez hit 28 doubles, 5 triples and 5 HR's for 42 RBI's with 16 steals.
After hitting .264 in 28 '08 Spring Training games over which Anderson Hernandez collected 2 doubles and 8 RBI's, the Mets' infielder was again sent down to Triple-A New Orleans on 3/28/08, with MLB.com's Marty Noble writing, in an article entitled, "Mets announce three roster moves", that the Mets:
"...optioned second baseman shortstop Anderson Hernandez to Triple-A New Orleans. Chances are he won't be brought back, unless either Jose Reyes or Luis Castillo is assigned to the disabled list for an extended period."
Hernandez never made it back up to NY...Anderson Hernandez played 125 games with Triple-A New Orleans before his name surfaced again when the infielder was traded to the Washington Nationals as the player to be named later in the deal that saw New York acquire right-handed reliever Luis Ayala. Hernandez hit .333 with 4 doubles and 17 RBI's in 28 games and 81 AB's with DC after joining the Nationals, with Washington Manager Manny Acta, who was familiar with Hernandez from both of their time in NY, instantly inserting Hernandez in the starting lineup upon his arrival and telling MLB.com's Kevin Horan, in an article entitled, "Nats acquire shorstop Hernandez":
"'He (Hernandez) brings a lot to the table,' Acta said. 'He can run, too, which is another tool that he brings. He's a very useful guy for us.'"
Useful guy? Yes. Starting second baseman? I don't know...MLB.com's Bill Ladson pointed to Hernandez in the most recent, "Mailbag: Who will play second base", when asked, "Who do you think will be the starting second between Anderson Hernandez and Emilio Bonifacio?", with Mr. Ladson responding:
"Right now, I have to believe that Hernandez has the edge because he played extremely well the last two months of the season. I'm not sold on Bonifacio -- yet. He is an automatic out on the right side of the plate and just OK from the left side. There is talk of making Bonifacio strictly a left-handed hitter. Defensively they are equal."
Worried that I was underestimating Anderson Hernandez when I looked at his .232 career average, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 20 RBI's after 63 games and 148 AB's at the major league level, I turned to Eric Simon from the SB Nation's Mets blog "Amazin' Avenue" for a final comment/scouting report on the former Mets' prospect. Mr. Simon's response:
"Anderson Hernandez has generally performed well in the minors but never established himself has a big league hitter in limited playing time with the Mets. He has a plus-plus glove and good speed, but nothing I've seen makes me think he'll even be an adequate big league bat at any position, his 81 solid at-bats with the Nats this season notwithstanding."
Which is pretty much the same scouting report that accompanied Emilio Bonifacio when he arrived in DC from Arizona in return for The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History Jon Rauch. Are either Bonifacio or Hernandez capable of performing consistently in the Majors? Will Belliard end up back at second before Spring Training is even over? If it was up to you, who do you want to see starting at second next season? Trust me, if the Nationals are looking to acquire a big bat and some arms, barring a miraculous Spring by a prospect, one of the three, Bonifacio, Hernandez or Belliard is going to be starting at second in 2009, so who's it gonna be?