Phillies Lineup has Much More Depth in 2018
With pitchers and catchers reporting this week and the full squad beginning spring training next week for the Philadelphia Phillies, we will begin to take a look at what should be a fun Phillies team. With some young talent, around a few veterans, the Phillies offense could be fun to watch this season.
The Phillies’ offseason was a little more exciting then expected – at least compared to most teams in the NL East. General manager Matt Klentak made some moves to add some extra punch at the plate, and added some depth to the Phillies bullpen.
While not adding a starting pitcher at this point of the offseason is a disappointment, they still have time to add someone with the amount of free agent arms that are still available. But if you take a step back and look over the Philliess lineup, it’s hard to find an issue. The team made a big acquisition, and will have a full season from younger guys, making their offense more potent than at the beginning of last year.
Here’s a look at the Phillies’ 2018 offense by position.
Jorge Alfaro enters the season as the Phillies’ starting catcher. Coming off a year in which he played in just 29 games, hitting .318 with five homers and 14 RBI, there is plenty of confidence that the the 24-year-old will be able to build on his numbers from 2017. Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp will battle to be Alfaro’s backup.
The first notable move of the offseason for the Phillies was to add Carlos Santana, signing him to a three-year, $60 million contract with a $17.5 million club option for 2021, giving the team some legitimate protection in the lineup for Rhys Hoskins . Philadelphia saw some success with Tommy Joseph at the position in 2017, but the acquisition of Santana gives them a much more consistent hitter. While the right-handed-hitting Joseph has pop in his bat (22 home runs in 2017), he could stand to walk more (.289 on-base percentage). The good news is the Phillies won’t be relying on him to do too much, as Santana should get a bulk of the playing time.
If anything is for sure about the Phillies, it’s that Cesar Hernandez is their second baseman. The only question here is is for how long – Scott Kingery is waiting in the wings, and while he most likely won't start the season in Philly, the team will be keeping a close eye on him. The Phillies most likely will move Hernandez once they feel Kingery is ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Either Adam Rosales or Ryan Flaherty, who will compete to be the Phillies’ utility player, would be the next option behind Hernandez at second.
Much like Hernandez, the only question for the Phillies at third base is how much of a leash they will give Maikel Franco. The 25-year old, Franco has struggled at the plate, hitting just .230 last season. Perhaps some extra off-days would help him bounce back from his worst offensive season since his MLB debut – the Phillies brought in former Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks, who hit .221 in 22 games with the Rangers last season.
The Phillies traded away Freddy Galvis this offseason, in doing so, they cleared a path for their top prospect, J.P. Crawford. Crawford made his major league debut last season, playing 23 games, and will take over shortstop this season after spending most of 2017 at third base. The 23-year old is a flashy defender, but how will he handle big league pitching will be something to keep an eye on, the Phillies don't have a real veteran presence behind him, so they will allow Crawford to grow in this position.
One position where the Phillies appear to be set is in left field, with Rhys Hoskins. He is in line to hit in the middle of the Phillies offense for a long time. With the addition of Santana, it appears the Phillies are comfortable enough with Hoskins defense to leave him in left field. In 50 games, the 24-year-old mashed 18 homers, 48 RBI and scored 37 runs to go with a .259 batting average.
This is one of the first moves Matt Klentak made when he landed in Philadelphia, signing Odubel Herrera, a one-time second baseman, to a five-year, $30.5 million extension to be their center fielder.. He no doubt has the speed to run balls down, but still takes some odd routes to balls. Herrera should hit at the top of the Phillies lineup, that has some depth behind him.
This is the only position where the Phillies appear to have a platoon set up, with the left-handed hitting Nick Williams in line to get the the bulk of the at-bats over righty Aaron Altherr due to his ability to hit right-handed pitching. The duo gives the Phillies some pop on the corner, combining for 31 home runs in 2017.
Projected Phillies opening day lineup
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Odubel Herrera, CF
Rhys Hoskins, LF
Carlos Santana, 1B
Aaron Altherr/Nick Williams, RF
Maikel Franco, 3B
Jorge Alfaro, C
J.P. Crawford, SS