The Miami Marlins entered the 2013 season with a prospect of interest in Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop. After being promised stability at the shortstop position for years to come with Jose Reyes signed for seven years, the Marlins sent Reyes among others away to the Toronto Blue Jays and acquired his replacement in Hechavarria. Heading into the season, there was a question of whether Hechavarria could manage an adequate or even mediocre batting line in the majors, but there were no questions about his defensive capabilities.
But, as with many things that happened to the Marlins this season, things worked out worst than expected. A lot worse.
In short, nothing baseball-related worked out for Hechavarria in 2013. He entered the year with major questions at the plate, as he was a free-swinging prospect with marginal (but potential) power and some issues with contact. All of those problems came to light in 2013. Among the Marlins with more than 200 plate appearances, Hechavarria was among the most free-swinging as expected, as he swung at 50 percent of all pitches, including 33 percent of them out of the zone. Hechavarria had the fourth-lowest walk rate among those Marlins at just 5.2 percent. He complemented that lack of patience with a 16.6 percent strikeout rate that would have been acceptable with either more walks or more power.
Hechavarria's power was nonexistent as well. He hit a grounded in 52 percent of balls in play, a mark that was second only behind Christian Yelich among the most played Marlins this past season. In one game, Hechavarria drove in seven runs by hitting a grand slam and narrowly missing a second one against the Philadelphia Phillies. That home run represents a third of all the shots he sent out this year, as he rarely saw the fence on his swings. His ISO was tied with Greg Dobbs's and only rivaled in lack of pop by the series of other slap hitters the Marlins employed this year.
Hechavarria could not even avoid problems on the basepaths. He stole 11 bases this season, but he was caught ten times as well. Depending on what system you use, he cost the Marlins between two and five runs on the bases as well with mistimed steal attempts. Hechavarria was never known for basestealing, but the Marlins could have used those bases and especially those outs back given the team's offense. Hechavarria could not get out of his own way even after he reached base, and with a pathetic .267 OBP, he was not there often.
It would have been nice had the Marlins received elite defensive play, as that was basically the only saving grace for employing Hechavarria this season. But the Marlins did not get that, and it is possible, at least according to the metrics, that the Marlins got below-average play on the defensive side from Hechavarria. He only committed 15 errors and did a good job getting the outs he was supposed to get, but Hechavarria was rated poorly by most metrics in terms of range. Overall, the defensive metrics say he cost the Marlins between two and nine runs on defense.
It is possible that these defensive metrics have missed Hechavarria's performance. By the eyes, it certainly did not appear as though Hechavarria was failing to range on balls or make proper throws. But he would have had to have been among the elite shortstops in baseball this season to make up for his putrid batting line. If he indeed was 1.9 wins below replacement, then he would have had to be 10 runs above average on defense to even be a replacement player. In other words, Hechavarria was such a bad hitter that he had to be a Gold Glove defender just to have been better than a Triple-A scrub!
And therein lies Hechavarria's problem. Even if his defense is as good as advertised, he needs to make significant strides at the plate in order to even approach a playable Major League level. Right now, that does not appear to be in the cards in 2014.