Let’s preface all this by noting that Boston Red Sox second baseman Kiké Hernández is a good baseball player.
He’s not one of the greats or even the very goods, though maybe that depends on your definition of very good. Either way, he was a valuable utility man for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they made three World Series in four years. He can competently play nearly every position on the field and has some respectable power at the plate, especially in the postseason. He’s also a pretty fun personality on and off the field.
Kiké Hernández is a good baseball player. It was still a massive surprise when his name turned up here:
Apparently, Hernández sits between Francisco Lindor, the new star shortstop of a team in MLB's biggest market, and Mike Trout, the best player of his era, in jersey popularity. And well ahead of players like Juan Soto and Jacob deGrom.
With all respect to Hernández, that is stunning. It was apparently stunning to Hernández as well, as this is how the player responded to Chris Cotillo of MassLive:
“Not just the fact that it was in front of Mike [Trout], but the fact I was top 10 in the big leagues, to me, that was mind-blowing,” Hernández said Wednesday afternoon. “There are so many really, really good players in the big leagues and the fact that only eight of them sold more jerseys than me last year, I don’t know how that happened. I am truly humbled and honored. It truly is an honor to be on that list. I don’t have much to say because that was completely unexpected.”
How is Kiké Hernández in MLB's top-10-selling jerseys?
So here we are, with a player who has never received an All-Star nod or MVP vote having a more popular jersey than both reigning MVPs, both reigning Cy Young winners, the reigning World Series MVP and the best player of this generation. That warrants some extra digging.
In MLB's news release announcing the list, the league stated its rankings are based on "sales from MLBShop.com of Nike player jerseys since the conclusion of the 2020 Postseason." Assuming this all isn't the result of a clerical error, we can try to lay out a few reasons why Hernández would do well in that span.
For starters, he was a fan favorite on a World Series-winning team with one of the biggest fan bases in baseball. The Dodger bump not only boosted Hernández's sales, but also put three players — Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger Clayton Kershaw — and one more, Corey Seager, in the top 20. Of course, you have to wonder how Hernández outsold Seager, who went supernova in the postseason.
That might be explained by Hernández's change in team. After signing a two-year, $14 million deal with the Red Sox this offseason, Hernández is slated to be the team's starting second baseman in 2021. So he has moved between two of baseball's biggest fan bases, and represents Boston's biggest free agent signing of the offseason (which says a lot more about the modern Red Sox than Hernández).
As some have noted on Twitter, Hernández's jersey number could also be a factor. He wears No. 5, the same as Nomar Garciaparra, and the Red Sox do not put players' names on the backs of their home jerseys. Meanwhile, his jersey with the Dodgers may have sold at a steep discount this offseason due to his exit.
Even with all that context, it's still pretty wild to see Hernández's name on that list. And it may be a concern for MLB just how many of its supposedly rising stars got outsold by a utility man with a career .738 OPS.
More from Yahoo Sports: