In June 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers claimed Hernán Pérez off of waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Slightly more than two years later, Pérez is quite possibly the Brewers MVP this season. Talk about unearthing a gem.
Pérez has never had an everyday defensive position while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. However, this season, he has earned a regular spot in the batting order. He has been the definition of a super utility player.
After tossing one scoreless inning as a pitcher against the Washington Nationals, Pérez has now appeared at all but one position on the diamond in his career. He serves as the Brewers emergency catcher, so he can cross that one off in a pinch.
Plenty of players, coming off of the season Hernan Pérez had in 2016, would fight back against a utility role. While some may feel underappreciated, he has embraced it and exceeded expectations. He can play all over the field. He is the Milwaukee Brewers Swiss army knife. A jack of all trades. Our hero… sorry that got away from me a little bit there.
Often, his breakout performance in 2016 was lost in the Jonathan Villar shuffle. The first number that really jumps out were his 34 stolen bases. He also had 56 runs batted in, with 13 home runs, and batted .272 in 430 plate appearances. He did this while playing well at seven different positions. Not bad for a young player getting his first real opportunity at the Major League level.
This season, he has also played seven different positions for the Milwaukee Brewers. After having 41 stolen base attempts in 2016, he has only 14 this season. Otherwise, his numbers are right about where they have been for the past two seasons. Although, he should eclipse his career best in home runs and plate appearances. There’s still a lot of baseball to play and he has shown great consistency day in and day out.
His versatility has allowed him to play in 103 out of the first 115 games this season. Having the ability to play everywhere also allows the team to rest players whenever the need may arise. Ryan Braun tweaked his back mid-game? No problem, Pérez can play left field for him. Orlando Arcia needs a day off? Slot Pérez in at shortstop and you still have a starting caliber player.
What Makes Perez So Useful?
Every successful Major League team needs a utility player. With the versatility Pérez has displayed this season, his offense is often not talked about. The numbers he posts don’t make your jaw drop. If they did he wouldn’t be a utility player. However, he is a well rounded player. He may not do things at the highest level, but he does everything at a Major League level.
A utility player used to be a player who found his niche by making himself versatile. They were usually players who didn’t hit enough to warrant every-day play. Hat’s off to players like Ben Zobrist for changing that perception. Now, a player like Hernán Pérez can shine in that role. Unquestionably, he has been one the best utility players in baseball this season.