Former Tri-City ValleyCat Joins Rare Group of Red Sox Legends
Last week, I put together a list of former Tri-City ValleyCats players who would be suiting up for the 2021 American League Championship Series. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox both have roots to the Capital Region that run deep, and it was great to be able to show how important Albany was in the development of these future Major League stars.
What me and every other Red Sox and ValleyCats fan didn't realize, was that Enrique (Kike) Hernandez would be joining a rare group of Boston legends with his performance against his former team.
Check out this nugget of information from Channel 7 News in Boston:
"His 5 [playoff] homers are also tied for most in team history with Ortiz in 2004 and 2013 and Todd Walker in 2003." - WHDH Boston
Let's do a bit of investigating, shall we? David Ortiz is one of the most clutch hitters in Major League Baseball history, and his performance in the 2004 playoffs helped break the 86-year "curse" that plagued the team since Harry Frazee needed money to finance a play.
While he only spent one year in Boston, Todd Walker exploded in the playoffs for the Red Sox. He was 5-16 (.313) in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, and kicked it up a notch (10-27, .370 BA) in the ALCS against the Yankees.
Hernandez, meanwhile, is also in his first year and Boston, and had a similarly pedestrian regular season to what fans saw from Walker back in 2003. Known primarily for his defensive play, and ability to play multiple positions, Hernandez toiled around the .250 mark for batting average, and never really showed any penchant for hitting for power.
It's almost impossible to predict, however, how a player will respond when put on the game's biggest stage, with the lights shining at their brightest. Hernandez came into the 2021 postseason with a good deal of prior playoff experience, having played for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2015. In his postseason debut in Boston, Hernandez has shown an impressive amount of calm in high-pressure situations, and has embraced a kind of swagger that appears to be spreading amongst the other players on the team.
A .280 hitter while with the ValleyCats, Hernandez has always shown ability on the offensive and defensive sides of the baseball. This kind of success in the playoffs, however, was something that very few could've expected.
That said, if you're a Sox fan, you're just happy it's happening.