You shouldn’t trust spring training statistics. Opposition quality is, to put it kindly, uneven. Non-roster invitees and overmatched minor leaguers get their turns in the spotlight. A home run off Johnny Washedup or Mike Minorleague isn’t the same as one off a fifth starter, let alone Gerrit Cole.
So of course, today I want to talk about an off-the-radar reliever putting up good numbers in spring training. “But Ben,” you might say. “Did you read the paragraph that you yourself just wrote?” Good point, conveniently voiced reader. But here’s a trick to writing about spring training performances that might stick. I want to talk about Jonathan Hernández. And while he’s looked sharp this year, I want to talk about him not because he’s been good for the last month but because I think he was already good.
An origin story is in order. Hernández signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013, when the Rangers were the unquestioned best team at finding international talent. He slowly but surely climbed the minor league ranks as a starter. His sinker/slider combination was good enough to tread water, but never dominant.
Early in his career, he’d…