2017: 66-96 (fifth place in NL East)
Last Postseason Appearance: 2011
Last World Series Title: 2008
From 2007-2011, the Phillies made the postseason five times, won the 2008 World Series, and were two wins away from going back-to-back in 2009. From 2013-2017, Philadelphia has zero playoff berths, and is averaging around 69 wins a season. 3,777,322 was the number of home-game tickets sold in 2010. In 2017, according to BaseballReference.com, Philadelphia sold 1,905,354 tickets.
To put it simple, the Phillies were terrible last year. As an offense, they finished 25th in steals, 26th in home runs, total bases, and OPS, and 27th in runs. Their pitching staff allowed the eighth most home runs, blew 24 saves, and finished 18th in ERA, 21st in quality stats, and 24th in BAA.
The team’s leader in WAR among position players was Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez was one of three second basemen, joining Jose Ramirez and Jose Altuve, as the only guys to hit at least .290, with 9 home runs, 15 steals, and an on-base percentage of .370.
On the mound, Aaron Nola had a good season and finished ninth in FIP. In his age-24 season, the former first round pick, in 168 innings, won 12 games, struck out 184 batters, and posted a 3.54 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP.
Luckily for Philly, things could be turning around. On August 10th, Philadelphia called up Rhys Hoskins, a fifth round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. In just 50 games, Hoskins proceeded to hit 18 home runs with a .396 OBP. This kid is a future star, with a ton of power, who has incredible patience at the plate. The graph below exemplifies how Hoskins has been tearing it up at all levels over the last few years.
RHYS HOSKINS (2015-2017 STATS)
2018: Around the Diamond
In his 50 games, Hoskins played 29 games in left field, and the other 21 at first base. This year, he will be the primary left fielder. To play first, Philadelphia signed Carlos Santana as a free agent. Santana is a great talent, with a career OBP of .365. He hit 23 home runs, along with 37 doubles, in 2017.
Joining Santana around the infield will be Hernandez at second, JP Crawford at short, and Maikel Franco at third. Crawford, the former first round pick in 2013, struggled in 23 games at the MLB level in 2017, but still had an OBP of .356. He draws a good amount of walks, but his average has dipped as he has moved up levels. Franco is the biggest wild card in this lineup. Last season, he hit just .230 with a .291 OBP. However, Franco did hit 25 home runs in 2016, and 24 last year, so the power is there. This is a guy with a ton of talent, and will hopefully put it all together in 2018.
Jorge Alfaro appears to be the top catcher on the depth chart, while Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp will battle for the backup position. In 2017, Alfaro hit .318 with 5 home runs in 29 games for the Phillies. Tommy Joseph will serve as the primary DH when Philadelphia travels to play the American League teams.
Philadelphia has the potential to get a lot of production out of their outfield in 2018. Not only do they have Hoskins, but don’t forget that center fielder Odubel Herrera was an All-Star in 2016. His OBP dropped to .325 and he only stole eight bases in 2017, but Herrera is still developing. Nick Williams will start in right, with Aaron Altherr battling him for some playing time. Williams played well in his 83 games last season. After being called-up, the 24-year-old, who was traded from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal, hit .288 with 12 home runs.
On the Bump
Aaron Nola is the clear ace, and has already been announced the Opening Day starter. He will be followed by Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velazquez, and Nick Pivetta. Eickhoff wasn’t great last season, but in 2016, he won 11 games and posted a 3.65 ERA. Velazquez had his season cut short because of injury, and really struggled when he was on the mound. However, in 2016, this is a guy who posted a 3.32 ERA in the first half. Velazquez has shown signs of brilliance, but must be more consistent in 2018. Pivetta had a tough 2017, but has pitched well in the minors and has plenty of potential.
The fifth spot in the Phillies rotation is up for grabs. Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Mark Leiter, and Tom Eshelman will all be competing for the number five starter role. At this point, Lively looks like the favorite to secure the spot, after posting a 4.26 ERA in 15 starts to begin his MLB career. If Jake Thompson could stop walking everyone, he would be the frontrunner, but unfortunately, in 2017, he posted a 4.27 BB/9, which was the fourth worst among qualified starters.
Hector Neris, who appeared in 74 games last season, will start out as the closer. The Phillies also brought in Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to beef up their bullpen.
Philadephia has six players who were named to MLB.com’s “Top 100 Prospects” list. Their highest ranked player, coming in at No. 26, is Sixto Sanchez. Sanchez, 19, is a right-handed pitcher, who, in 2016, won the ERA crown in the Gulf Coast League. His fastball can reach triple digits, and scouts see this guy with the potential of turning into a top of the rotation player.
Scott Kingery, a second round pick in 2015, is a second basemen with some pop. He is the top ranked second basemen, and the 35th overall ranked prospect, who has an incredible bat and plus speed. Between AA/AAA, in 132 games, Kingery hit 26 home runs, stole 29 bases and batted .304. One day, he will be starting at second base in an All-Star game. Don’t be surprised to see him playing alongside JP Crawford (No. 37), at some point this season.
The Phillies second ranked pitching prospect, Adonis Medina (No. 86), pitched well in A-ball in 2017. The 21-year-old threw 119.2 innings, while striking out 133 batters, and posting a 3.01 ERA. He will hopefully work his way up the levels in 2018.
The prospect with the most pressure on him is Mickey Moniak, the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft. Moniak hit just .236 in A-Ball, but he has plenty of time to grow. Down the road, Moniak could be the next Christian Yelich.
The last Phillies prospect on the list is outfielder Adam Haseley (No. 95). Haseley was the eighth overall pick in 2017 draft, and was a two-way star at the University of Virginia. He can spray the ball around the field, and has good speed on the base paths. As far as MLB comparisons go, Haseley will be like Adam Eaton.
One player that didn’t crack this list is Dylan Cozens. Cozens, 23, has incredible power from the left side. Standing tall at 6”6, Cozens hit 27 home runs in AAA. In 2016, he smacked 40 home runs with a 125 RBIs in AA. If given a chance, Cozens could very well be the Matt Olson of the Phillies.
2018 Prediction: 70-92
Gabe Kapler looks like he will be a fantastic manager, and the team got older, so the win-total should increase from last season. However, this squad is years away from competing. Rhys Hoskins for a full-season will draw more fans in, and, hopefully, make Phillies games great again.
Featured image by MLB.com
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