The Red Sox believed Kike Hernandez had untapped potential
In 2020, the Red Sox received the worst production from second basemen offensively in all of the majors. To rectify this they brought in Hernandez to give them a dependable option at second base while also occasionally filling in at center field.
Some questioned this move at the time, noting that for most of his time with the Dodgers Hernandez had served as a platoon option against left-handed pitching as he had struggled against righties throughout his career. The Red Sox argued that Hernandez’s best season with the Dodgers came in 2019 when he had the most at bats of any season in his career. The Sox believed that all Hernandez needed was the opportunity to play everyday and he would tap into that potential he had shown in 2019.
While Hernandez would not hold down the second base position, as he would move to center field early on in the season, he would have a year to remember at the plate. Like Renfroe, Hernandez got off to a slow start hitting only for a .683 OPS through June 1st, but from there he would kick it into another gear, hitting for a .825 OPS and 15 home runs the rest of the way. According to baseball reference Hernandez was tied with Xander Bogaerts for being the most valuable player on the 2021 Red Sox with 4.9 WAR.
Hernandez has one year remaining with the Red Sox, giving Duran another year to develop in Worcester.