Sterling Awards: Anderson Hernandez

Is it possible that the two starting second basemen in New York next season could be named Anderson and Robinson? If Anderson Hernandez fulfills the promise he's shown in his first year in the Mets organization, the answer could realistically be 'yes.'

A 22-year-old switch-hitting infielder, Hernandez was selected as the Mets Sterling Award winner for Double-A Binghamton, signifying the club's top minor league player at that level.

Technically, the selection is a misnomer in two ways – one, Eastern League MVP Mike Jacobs was the top player at Double-A Binghamton, but he was already selected as the top overall player in the minor league system.

And second, Hernandez played just as many games – 66 – at Binghamton as he did at Triple-A Norfolk. But that matters little considering this prospect's bright future.

Acquired in January from the Detroit Tigers for backup catcher Vance Wilson, Hernandez said he took the trade personally and set out to punish pitchers in whatever league he played in.

Playing mostly shortstop, Hernandez hit .326 with Binghamton before forcing the organization's hand for a challenge on June 23. He'd finish out the year shuttling between second base and shortstop for Norfolk, hitting .303 and opening a door for a September callup to New York.

"I know I can play in the majors," Hernandez told Inside Pitch's Scott Lauber, "but I have to hit better. Like any young guy, I think I can hit any pitch. I have to get that out of me. I hit (.277) last year, and I think I can do better here.

"Before, all I knew was the Tigers. But I like it with the Mets. It's my second home."

Season Recap

APRIL: After quietly going through spring camp wearing No. 78, Hernandez joins the B-Mets and blends in for the most part. He strokes hits in seven of his first eight games, but doesn't collect his first RBI until April 19 at Portland, when he hits the first of seven homers he'll hit at Binghamton. Hernandez ends the month hitting .250.

MAY: Starting to warm up, Hernandez opens the month with a 10-game hitting streak that includes a 3-for-4 game on May 9 against Bowie and a 4-for-5 showing the next day, including three runs scored and a home run. He posts another 4-for-5 game with a home run on May 15 at Norwich, and drives in four in a May 20 contest against Altoona. Hernandez won't walk much – he's only got 11 bases on balls in 184 at-bats by month's end – but his numbers for May read .390 and 16 RBI.

JUNE: Five of Hernandez's first six games of June see him stroke two hits, including his seventh and final Double-A homer on June 7. A 1-for-4 showing as the DH on June 14 against New Hampshire kicks off a 10-game hitting streak in which Hernandez will hit .355 (16-for-45), carrying the run into his June 23 promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. Hernandez finishes the month hitting .326 at Double-A (matching his season average), then homers in his first Triple-A game at Columbus and keeps the hitting streak going through 10 games with the Tides, making for a split-level 20-game hit string. He's also more aggressive on the bases, stealing three bags on June 28, part of a five-game stretch in which Hernandez steals eight bases.

JULY: After finally not getting a hit for Norfolk on July 4, Hernandez keeps chipping away against International League pitchers. A three-hit game vs. Columbus on July 6 raises his Triple-A average to .404, and creeps up to .411 the next day before falling below the .400 mark for good. After back-to-back three-hit games at Syracuse on July 16-17, Hernandez ends July with a .290 average.

AUGUST: Hernandez lights up IL pitching to a .348 clip, with only two of his 39 hits for extra bases. But the singles come with consistency – Hernandez loses a 12-game hit streak on Aug. 14, then sparks up another eight-game string the next day. He also steals two bases in back-to-back games against Durham (Aug. 2) and Indianapolis (Aug. 4).

SEPTEMBER: With a .317 average in the books entering the Tides' final five September contests, Hernandez finishes the regular season weakly, going 2-for-18 to drop to .303 for the Triple-A season. He has hits in four of the Tides' five games against Toledo in the playoffs, then finds himself in the New York Mets lineup on Sept. 18.

Splits and minutia: Best overall month, May (.390, 3 HR, 16 RBI)… liked hitting better on the road (.343 at Double-A, .313 at Triple-A) than home (.308 at Double-A, .292 at Triple-A)… ran more at Norfolk (24 steals in 33 attempts) than Binghamton (11 steals in 20 attempts)… combined, hit .308 as a second baseman (55-for-178); .322 as a shortstop (112-for-347)… batted mostly leadoff at Binghamton (59-for-162, .364), and mostly second at Norfolk (53-for-191, .277).


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