Phillies CF Odubel Herrera May Be Best Rule 5 Pick in Team History

Most of the time the Rule 5 draft turns up nothing, but the Phillies found an excellent player in Odubel Herrera in the 2014 draft.

In case you haven’t been watching the Phillies the past two years, they selected this guy named Odubel Herrera from the Rangers two years ago in the Rule 5 draft. Since then, Herrera has been pretty darn good.

In 2015 at age 23, Herrera led the Phillies in Baseball Reference’s WAR with 3.8 wins above replacement. He finished the year with a .297/.344/.418 line along with eight home runs, 41 RBI, and 16 stolen bases. Even then, some were not sure he was a long-term fit in center field due to his errant fielding at times along with the acquisition of Nick Williams.

Herrera’s 2016 season should put all worries about his future at ease. He once again led the team in rWAR, this time with 4.2. His on-base percentage rose to .361 as he nearly doubled his walk rate from 5.2% in 2015 to 9.6% in 2016. Herrera also nearly doubled his home run total from eight to 15 and swiped 25 bases.

In 2016, Herrera started racking up what could be a long line of honors. He was the team’s lone representative in the All-Star Game in San Diego this season. Herrera was also a finalist for the Gold Glove Award, quieting all critics of his defense.

Through just two seasons, Herrera has been more valuable than most Rule 5 picks are in their entire career. Just one name stands out as a competitor for the club’s top Rule 5 selection of all time: Shane Victorino.

For those who don’t remember, the Phils selected Victorino in the Rule 5 Draft in 2004. This was not the first time some selected him; the Padres selected him in the 2002 draft, but they returned him back to the Dodgers later that year.

They actually tried returning Victorino to the Dodgers before the 2005 season began, but they declined, so he instead went to Triple-A. He appeared in 21 games that year after a September call-up, hitting his first major-league home run off of Atlanta’s Tim Hudson.

Through their first two major-league seasons, Herrera easily bests the Flyin’ Hawaiian. In 2006 and 2007, Victorino accumulated 2.7 and 2.8 Fangraphs wins above replacement. Meanwhile, Herrera had 4.0 and 3.8 fWAR in his first two seasons.

If we compare the two in terms of their best seasons, Victorino has the advantage. This method is biased towards Victorino due to the fact that he played in parts of 14 major-league seasons. Herrera only has the two to work with, but we can at least see the bar he would have to reach.

Victorino’s best season in Philadelphia uniform came in 2011 when he finished the year 13th in NL MVP voting along with attaining All-Star honors. Playing in 132 games, Victorino posted a .279/.355/.491 line along with a 132 wRC+. He built up a rWAR of 5.4 that year.

Victorino’s best season overall came in 2013 when he played for the Red Sox. Despite not going to the All-Star Game, Victorino posted his highest career rWAR total for a single season with 6.1. That season he earned his third career Gold Glove.

Odubel Herrera certainly has the potential to be the top Rule 5 pick in Phillies history. Compared to his predecessor in Shane Victorino, Herrera is certainly off to a better start in his major-league career. He still has to get better in time, but he certainly has the ability to.

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