When Don Mattingly agreed to manage the Marlins, he knew some things for certain.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton would routinely hit home runs. Starter Jose Fernandez would regularly dominate opposing lineups.
With the right pieces put together, the bullpen would have success, as would the lineup.
But since Mattingly joined the Marlins, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria has stood out most to the veteran manager, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
Who has Don Mattingly most gained an extra appreciation for since taking over as Marlins manager?Adeiny Hechavarria offensively, he said. “He has a really good swing; didn’t realize how good a hitter he is.”
That, of course, is a common response from those not familiar with the Marlins organization. When Miami acquired Hechavarria from the Blue Jays in 2012, they did so with the expectation that he would be a productive starting shortstop.
Over time, Hechavarria has proven to be just that. However, he is also known for his defense, which takes away from his offensive numbers.
Over 49 games this season, Hechavarria is batting .258/.288/.346 to complement three home runs and 15 RBIs. His last two seasons with the Marlins have not been dominant offensively, but he has had a fair amount of success wherever the club decided to place him in the lineup.
Last season, Hechavarria batted .281 with 45 RBIs, a step above his .276 average in 2014.
In his first full season with the Marlins, Hechavarria didn't have much success at the plate. He batted a mere .227 but still drove in 42 runs.
It's relatively easy to understand Mattingly's surprised outlook with regard to his starting shortstop. Despite his defensive success, Hechavarria is not routinely discussed in the context of the best shortstops in the National League.
Perhaps in the future that will change, and if the Marlins are competitive for the remainder of the season, it almost certainly will.
Hechavarria has likely been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins the last few seasons. And at 27, he still has time to improve in Miami.