Sports

Kiké Hernández: Boston’s Mr. October

Ben Lepper ‘25
Staff Writer

In February of this year, the Red Sox were in a rough spot. They had just come off one of their most pitiful seasons since Bobby Valentine’s horrid tenure, going 24-36 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Numerous pieces of the core were injured, such as Chris Sale, and more were being traded away, such as Andrew Benintendi. Jackie Bradley Jr., a stalwart of their outfield, had elected free agency. Nobody expected anything from them in the 2021 season; it was, by all means, meant to be a rebuild year. However, while everyone else was playing checkers, general manager Chaim Bloom was playing 5-dimensional chess. Instead of panicking, Bloom made a few small low-risk, high-reward offseason moves. He signed outfielder Hunter Renfroe to a one year deal. He selected Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. And then, on Feb. 2, 2021, he pulled off his magnum opus: Enrique “Kiké” Hernández, a utility player who had just won the World Series with the Dodgers, was signed to a two-year, 14 million dollar contract.

Hernández signed with Boston for a few major reasons: his relationship with manager Alex Cora, his love for Fenway Park, and, most importantly, for more playing time. While a talented player, Kiké never really got the playing time he wanted in LA. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Kiké only saw 139 at bats. That seems like a lot, but when you compare it to the amount of at bats teammate Cody Bellinger got that season, you’ll notice that it’s not—Bellinger had 213. If Hernández was looking for playing time in Boston, he got it; he appeared in 134 games and had a .250 batting average with 20 home runs as their usual center fielder. If we’re still talking at bats, he had over 500. His regular season stats were solid, but nothing incredible. 

But then, against all odds, the Red Sox made it to October. A team that, on paper, should have finished fourth in the AL East somehow snuck into the Wild Card game—and won it. And, at press time, the Red Sox are currently leading 2-1 in the ALCS against the Houston Astros, following a 3-1 ALDS victory over the number one seeded Tampa Bay Rays. This unprecedented run has a lot of factors going for it, but the largest is none other than the man who used to sit in the Dodgers’ dugout wearing a banana suit. Kiké Hernández has become unstoppable. The man currently leads the Red Sox (and every MLB player still playing right now—I’m aware Giancarlo Stanton has a higher batting average, but the Yankees lost, so…) in all aspects of postseason play, with an unreal batting average of .500, five home runs, nine RBIs, and some absolutely spectacular catches in center field. He hit the series-clinching sacrifice fly against Tampa, sending the Sox on to Houston. Through a four game span (10/8 to 10/15), he had 13 hits, which is the highest number of hits in any four-game span by a single player in the postseason. He now holds the record for most postseason games with 10-plus bases, with three. He is the first player in Red Sox history to hit five home runs in a five game span in the postseason. Through those four games where he had 13 hits, he had 29 bases. The only other player to do that? None other than Reggie Jackson, AKA Mr. October.

Yes, I said that last line for a reason. Kiké Hernández is Boston’s Mr. October, at least for this season. Every time he steps up to the plate he does something incredible. I don’t think this team would have made it past the Rays without him finding a new gear in his game. He is currently putting together a postseason performance for the record books, and if he keeps it up, there is no reason why this team shouldn’t win their fifth World Series championship of the 21st century. 

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