Gorkys had zero home runs in 2017. In a year Giants fans want to forget, Hernandez had a fairly forgettable 2017 as well. His production was better in the second half, but overall, he finished with disappointing numbers.
Longoria and McCutchen were brought in to be middle of the order hitters. Hernandez was doubtful to even make the team.
It truly is remarkable to see what Hernandez has been able to do when he has never really been given an everyday job. Much like Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco before him, Hernandez joined the Giants as a non roster invitee and had to earn his way onto the major league roster the hard way.
His numbers can be deceiving. Last year, Hernandez slashed .255/.377/.326 for an OPS of .652. This year, he has only slightly improved to .240/.290/.402 for an OPS of .692. While his OPS is still below .700, his WAR jumped from -0.6 last year to 0.6 this year.
By most metrics, Hernandez has not improved that much from last season to this year. However, his home runs and his defense have been a big reason why fans are much more excited to see Gorkys name in the lineup card each day.
What makes all of this more impressive is he has never really been named a starter.
Despite never really having an every day job, Hernandez and his added power was something special in 2018. It was also something special historically. It had been more than 30 years since a player had hit 15 home runs after hitting none the year before.