Winning has become an afterthought in the city of brotherly love lately, but the Philadelphia Phillies are trusting their process. The Phillies didn’t plan on being bad, but they haven’t prepared to be good since 2011. This year’s Philly squad filled with intriguing young players could make a run at the NL East crown.
To do that, they would have to improve upon their NL worst 610 scored runs. Their offense is not all bad, but they lack a balanced lineup that will give teams the impression that there are no easy outs.
From the 2nd base, left field, and right field positions, the Phillies projected opening day starters have combined for ten home runs and 68 RBIs in 2016. That kind of production is solid from your catcher position, but subpar if you want to field a formidable lineup.
Although far from elite, the Phillies can deploy a few players with elite potential.
Freddy Galvis showed some much-needed pop for the Phils with 20 homers to go along with 67 RBIs. However, as a shortstop in the National League, a .241 batting average puts manager Pete Mackanin in a tough position with the second worst on-base percentage in the NL.
Maikel Franco will be a name fans will start seeing more and more in their fantasy drafts and on national television. Franco plays with the kind of flair and ferocity the likes of Adrian Beltre. His 25 homers and 88 RBIs at age 24 shows his potential as a franchise player.
The name Odubel Herrera will most likely not become a household regular among baseball fans, not because of talent but because of linguistic features. In the meanwhile, Herrera showed the kind of flashes of consistency that makes Philly fans think he could fill the gap Jayson Werth left when he jumped ship to Washington in 2012.
Herrera’s blend of speed and average will bode well for the Phillies in 2017. As a top of the order bat, his growth at the plate will be key for a second to last team in batting average in the NL.
Joining him in the outfield will be offseason signing Michael Saunders, coming off his first All-Star appearance with the Blue Jays. Glancing at his season totals last season, 24 home runs and 57 RBIs looks like the production of someone who would benefit from hitting higher in the lineup. However, when Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson hit in front of you, pitchers will find that they can’t pitch around everyone.
The Phillies are hoping another offseason addition will help them in Clay Buchholz. Presumably, Philadelphia is Buchholz’s last chance at becoming an ace. Last season, the Sox had enough faith in Buchholz to pitch him in a must-win elimination game against the AL Champion Cleveland Indians. This season, the Phillies hope they can put that same faith in him to be their number two ace behind Jeremy Hellickson.
In 2017, the Ryan Howard contract will be more valuable than the Ryan Howard player. At age 39, his bad defense has become atrocious, and his career low .196 batting average is replacement level.
Fittingly enough his replacement, Tommy Joseph, has made Ryan Howard very expendable. An AL team with a void for a pinch hitting DH with power would hopefully bring the Phillies back a quality reliever to minimize their 5.05 ERA as a bullpen.
The Phillies have pieces and will look a lot different than the teams fielded on opening day over the past five years. With an influx of growing young players at skill positions, the Phillies will be peskier as a fringe playoff team in 2017.
- I'm a 19-year old sophomore dual major in Journalism and Sports Management at Eastern Nazarene College. Born in Boston, MA raised in Brockton, and just happy to be here at NGSC Sports.