Hernan Perez is one of my favorite Brewers. I know he doesn’t walk enough, but outside of Ryan Braun, Hernan is the guy I most wanted up with a runner at second in a clutch situation. It isn’t that he never strikes out, but I always felt that he would fight to get the ball in play, which always gave him a chance to find a hole and drive one home.
Hernan re-signed with the Brewers on a minor league deal during the 2015-2016 off season when he could have gone somewhere else. He knew that, if he produced, he would get his shot in the Brewers organization. He performed well in AAA Colorado Springs to start 2016. When Scooter Gennett went on the DL, Hernan came back up to the Brewers again on April 28. He ended up finding his way to the field enough for 430 plate appearances. That’s a lot for a utility guy. A shortstop as a youngster, Herman played every position for the Brewers except pitcher and catcher. He wasn’t a great outfielder, but his infield work was fine. He demonstrated a strong throwing arm from third base (and from the outfield) which allowed the Brewers to move him around at will.
Perez’ slash of .272/.302/.428 isn’t overpowering. His 1.83 WAR is good for a utility guy. But his value came from his versatility while providing a viable bat. Herman also ranked second on the team in steals, with 34 in 41 attempts.
Perez appeared in 123 games, but by the second half of the season he was essentially an every-day player. He generally played third base, but moved to right field for a majority his starts after Orlando Arcia arrived and Jonathan Villar moved to third. His defense, while never stellar, improved as he became acclimated to a new position.
The broken wrist that shelved Keon Broxton for the season in a September Wrigley Field game moved Perez to center for several starts at the end of the season. He played some first, spelling Chris Carter while Carter took a rare day off or served as the DH in AL cities.
Are Hernan’s offensive numbers sustainable? While his hitting statistics improved in almost every category to his career numbers, they didn’t improve drastically; he is a viable major league player. He has matured into a solid back-up player that the Brewers will be able to count on for several years. Perez is only 25, and is under team control for 2017, with three seasons of arbitration eligible after that. It would be surprising for the Brewers to need Hernan as much going forward as they did in 2016, but his plate production and versatility in the filed promise solid contributions if and when he is needed.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs