Imagine showing up to work having no idea what is in store for you every single day. Your boss assigns what may feel like a random task when you clock in; sometimes the same, other times it’s drastically different. Every once in awhile, boss man (or lady) will change your directive in the middle of your shift. Some of you may struggle and your performance will waver, but for others, you will adapt and thrive; just like Hernán Pérez.
The human utility knife known as Hernán Pérez is the tool that keeps the 1st Place Milwaukee Brewers together. If someone goes down, is struggling, or simply needs a day off (shoutout Brauny), Perez is readily available to assume whatever hole was left by his predecessor. He has the ability to play all four infield positions, serves as the emergency catcher, and has garnered praise as a reliable outfielder.
In the 91 games he has played, he has appeared in the outfield 62 times. This is significant because he entered the Brewers organization simply as a utility infielder. Until 2016, he never played an inning in the outfield; however, an underperforming Keon Broxton and Kirk Nieuwenhuis early last year provided a chance for him to adapt his game and become a true “super utility” player.
The constant shuffling of defensive positioning has not taken a toll on his statistics as it would some others. Through his 658 innings played, Pérez has only committed 5 errors. This has translated into him ranking 17th in the MLB and 9th in the NL in Defensive Wins Above Replacement (DWAR). Basically, this means that having Hernán’s glove in the field adds about one more win to the Brewers’ total over having a different player in the game. It is also important to note that his DWAR has risen 0.2 since July 19 which is impressive.
He’s no slouch with the bat either. As of July 23rd, he is hitting .263 with 11 home runs, 35 runs, and 36 runs batted in. What stands out are his 29 extra base hits. He hits the ball hard and it shows up in the stats as he stands with 3 triple baggers, 11 trips around the bases, and 15 doubles. The knock against Pérez, though, is his .296 on base percentage which is mainly due to his walks which only total 15 on the season. His redeeming qualities of run production, whether driving someone in or crossing the plate himself, make up for his struggles to get on base.
If his versatility, glove, and hitting ability aren’t enough to get you on board the Pérez bandwagon, look at his personality as well. There is no statistic that measures how good of a teammate someone is, but observational data says quite a bit. Hernán and his son can be seen fooling around with other Brewers during pregame activities, he is a focal point in dugout celebrations, and is willing to play anywhere to help the team succeed.
Hernán Pérez is the definition of a utility man. There are a handful of players who can legitimately play every position on the field and even fewer who can be successful while doing it. When Pérez shows up to work tonight, Craig Counsell will have a task set for him. His task may start on the bench or in left field but he may finish his duties at shortstop. No one knows what crazy events may unfold throughout the game, but we all know who will be prepared for it.