Red Sox

The numbers behind Kiké Hernández’s career-best hot streak for the Red Sox

Hernández is enjoying perhaps the best month of his eight-year MLB career for the Red Sox.

Red Sox Kike Hernandez
Kike Hernandez celebrates a home run with teammates. Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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The best player on the Boston Red Sox right now isn’t one of the usual suspects like J.D. Martinez (though he’s been tearing the cover off the ball), Xander Bogaerts, or Rafael Devers.

Not that any of those guys have been bad, of course. Kiké Hernández has just been better.

No, really.

Since the start of July, Hernández owns the highest WAR (1.0) of any Red Sox player, edging out Martinez’s 0.8 WAR mark for the month. In fact, that 1.0 WAR number makes the second baseman/centerfielder the ninth-best player in baseball over the last 22 days according to FanGraphs.

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How in the world did we get here?

Quite simply, the Red Sox’ multi-purpose energizer bunny is probably playing the best stretch of baseball he’s ever played.

Hernández’s slash line of .263/.400/.1.067, to go with six home runs and 11 RBIs, have him on pace for his best-ever month during his eight-year MLB career. The closest he’s gotten to these numbers might be his month of June from 2018 (.266/.348/.918, seven homers, 13 RBIs), and he still has time to pass those home run and RBI totals.

The Red Sox leadoff hitter is also tied for 20th in the league in weighted runs created-plus (wRC+) this July with a mark of 181. That would be a career-best wRC+ mark for any month in which he played more than one game.

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More remarkably, he’s putting up these career numbers despite only having a batting average of .209 on balls he puts in play.

One big reason for Hernández’s success: he’s working more counts and getting more walks out of them. His 15.7 percent walk rate this month is well above his career average of 9.1 percent. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate (11.4 percent) is lower than it’s been at any point this year.

Then, when he has made contact, it’s gone for extra bases at an astounding rate when you consider his track record.

The generally light-hitting Hernández has posted a .430 career slugging percentage and has never slugged higher than .600 in any month before. Until this month, that is — he’s currently at .667 for July 2021.

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Throw in the fact that he’s also the sixth-best defensive player in all of baseball in terms of defensive WAR, and you’re getting one of the league’s most impressive values from a guy the Red Sox are only paying $7 million a year for.

The law of averages obviously suggests he’ll come back to earth at some point and let the likes of Martinez, Bogaerts and Devers go back to carrying the team.

But it seems as if Red Sox fans needn’t worry about the offense requiring a jolt at the top of the lineup every day. The spark plug was apparently there all along, and it’s running hot in the form of Hernández.

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