The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to climb out of a “rebuild” stage and into a “win now” mentality. They added very good pieces both in regards to pitching and hitting for 2018. They won just 66 games last year, but that was to be expected with their prospects too far away and lack of talent. This year, they add a big middle of the lineup threat in Carlos Santana, a front if the rotation pitcher in Jake Arrieta and get a full year of JP Crawford, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams. Things are looking up in Philly, their farm is strong and they’re looking to make moves this season, surprise people and maybe be in contention late in the season for a WildCard spot.
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Carlos Santana, 1B
Tommy Hunter, RHP
Pat Neshek, RHP
Freddy Galvis, SS
Why they can win: They can win for a number of reasons. Rhys Hoskins was a monster last season and showed that in just 170 ABs, if he can continue that, they have a serious star on their hands. That paired with another good season out of Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez at the top of the lineup and they have formed a nice 1-4. After that, Maikel Franco could be a bounce back candidate and Nick Williams and JP Crawford are exciting young guys that will endure their first full big league season. On the pitching side, they get a proven winner/ace in Arrieta and have Nola entering what should be his prime. They may lack depth in their rotation but make up for it with Hunter, Neshek and closer Hector Neris who didn’t blow a save the last two months
Why they can lose: Rhys Hoskins comes back to earth, Williams and Crawford can’t deal with a full season, Franco has another negative WAR season and their pitching let’s them down and they’re looking at another 68-75 win season. The guys slotted into their 3-5 pitching spots all had over a 4.70 ERA and if they don’t progress that could be an ugly season. Realistically not everyone pans out, which could lead to them losing 80+.
Bottom Line: The bottom line is that they’re average. They have fun pieces, crowds will be good and baseball is back (kind of) for the first time in 6 years in the City of Brotherly Love. Arrieta was an absolutely huge signing not just for 2018 but for recruiting big names moving forward. Being from Philly, it will be a interesting year to see if they make the leap to a good team. Santana was a good post-rebuild sign but that won’t make them a contender. Love their prospects like Kingery, Sanchez and Moniak but they’re probably a year away from making a difference. Realistically, I have them around 75-80 wins
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Aaron Nola, SP
Okay, this could easily be Arrieta or Santana, and I really wanted it to be Hoskins, who I have a big man-crush on, but Nola is the the biggest stud on this squad. Fresh off a 4.3 WAR season, where he went 12-11 W/L, with a solid 26.6 K% in a career high 168 IP, Nola is expected to take the next step into ace territory. He is a high spinner, with an elite swing and miss curve and heavy sinker. His curve graded out as the third best in the majors with a 18.8 wCB ranking (Fangraphs), which he threw 30.8% of the time. He is only 24 and definitely on the upswing. Hot Take: he posts a 5 WAR and makes his first all-star appearance.
Sinkhole: Jorge Alfaro, C
He has been an eternal prospect who appears to have the inside track for the starting catchers position for the Phillies. He is still young and could figure it out at the dish, but his patience at the plate is just horrendous. He is allergic to walks, Alfaro has never posted above a 6 BB% at any level in the minors and was 3.1 in 131 PAs. That combined with his strikeout propensity (31.3% in the majors) means he may never be able to hone into his tremendous raw power, 70 grade. He has raw skills behind the plate, 70 arm strength, but has a combined -6 DRS in 274 innings. This team has a lot of bright spots and potential, but they would be better served finding a quality veteran catcher to run tandem with Alfaro.
Regression Candidate: Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Surprisingly, Hernandez has been one of the most productive 2B in baseball the last two seasons, posting 4.3 and 3.3 WAR seasons with above average 107 and 111 wRC+. He has posted identical .294 avg and similar K% and BB%. He is far from elite with the bat as he has a low hard hit rate (22.1%) and high soft contact rate (23.5%). He lives on ground balls, and respectable contact rates. It is just hard to imagine him continuing his production as he isn’t a burner on the basepaths. Having more support around him in the lineup should aid him, but he is more like a 1.5 WAR player and he’ll have a hard time repeating his stat line without elite contact rates.Impact Acquisition: Carlos Santana, 1B
Describing Santana in one word is pretty easy, consistent. In 7 seasons he has never posted a WAR below 2.1 or above 3.7. He isn’t glamorous, but he gets the job done. He nearly walks as much as he strikes out and is one of the most patient hitters in the game. This is reflected by his stellar 15% career BB% and 123 wRC+. He is coming off a 23 HR campaign with a contact profile that was identical to his career norms. He also posted a career high 10 DRS at 1B too, so that is certainly a positive area of his game. His 3/$60M contract should provide a net value as long as he continues to be one of the more consistent and productive hitters in the game.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Sixto Sanchez, RHP (26)
Scott Kingery, 2B (35)
Adonis Medina, RHP (86)
Mickey Moniak, OF (88)
Why We Love Them: When they were unreal while I was in high school it was so fun to watch the city because they were consistently nasty for 4-5 years. Now, they have really fun prospects and maybe a respectable team again. Love Arrieta, love the stadium, love Altherr and Hoskins, love it all. Very likable team and not even arguably the best mascot in all of sports. Things are looking up for the Phils