The 2019 Phillies left fans longing. The second year under manager Gabe Kapler resulted in just a .500 record. It was a game better than the club finished in 2018, but it felt like the team had actually lost a whole lot more. They struggled to find their identity after Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL in early June and was deemed out for the remainder of the season. Bryce Harper labored as he adjusted to his new digs, Jean Segura never quite shined, it became fair to wonder if Rhys Hoskins had been figured out by opposing pitchers, injuries piled up, and their own starting staffed regressed more than almost any other club.
As we enter 2020, Kapler is out and so are other long-time starting players in third baseman Maikel Franco and second baseman César Hernández. The team still has holes but Steamer’s projections are bullish on their core bats.
- ADDITIONS: SS, Didi Gregorius, 2B/UTIL Josh Harrison.
- SUBTRACTIONS: 3B Maikel Franco, 2B César Hernández, OF Corey Dickerson, UTIL Brad Miller, UTIL Sean Rodriguez
J.T. Realmuto (C | Batting 2nd)
2019: 83 R, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 9 SB, .278/.328/.493 | C #1
2020 ADP: 79.0 (C #1)
While the Phillies disappointed last year, J.T. Realmuto most certainly did not. When acquired from Miami in the offseason he was viewed as a major upgrade who brought the Phillies backstop situation from near-bottom of the league to the top. Realmuto put up his best major league season to date and carried the team at the end of the year, helping keep alive what little playoff chances Philly had.
2020 will be his age-29 season. He went anywhere from 61st to 93rd overall in the Pitcher List staff-and-expert mocks. Catcher is sneaky deep, so it might make sense to skew to the latter end of that range. Regardless, Steamer sees another elite season on the horizon, though with less slugging (.477 instead of .493) and playing time (547 PA to last year’s 583). He’s easily the best backstop in the game by substance.
Strengths: R, RBI, BA, SLG
The team doesn’t see a reason to rest Realmuto more and the slugging sticks around, providing the biggest possible cup of cozy for your catcher situation.
He suddenly ages? He stops stealing token bags altogether? It’s hard to imagine a worst-case scenario for Realmuto that really hurts your team unless you draft him entirely too early.
2020 Projection: 70 R, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 9 SB, .269/.329/.477
Rhys Hoskins (1B | Batting 4th)
2019: 86 R, 29 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB, .226/.364/.454 | 1B #26
2020 ADP: 99.0 (1B #11)
Hoskins looked downright bad for long stretches last year. He’s been prone to wild stretches as a major leaguer, but it was never as extreme as it was in 2019. Despite the league isolated slugging going up by 20 points thanks to the rabbit ball, Hoskins saw his drop 23. His peripherals suggest he was largely the same player.
Some caveats: he popped up about four percentage points more while making less contact in the zone and more out of it. Those rates might be correlated, or possibly suggest he knew he was holding the bat a little too tight in his efforts to get right. Either way, the small differences had a sizable impact. He’s coming off the board as the 11th first baseman and things drop off quickly around that spot. Projections still show production in the heart of an above-average offense, making the upside more appealing.
Strengths: R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG
Weaknesses: AVG, SB
He beats the projections and posts career-best power numbers, helping to avoid or at least mitigate long slumps, and becomes a reliable anchor at first base.
Last season was the tip of the iceberg. The pop-ups keep supplanting the power and he’s on your bench or waiver wire for extended stretches, another righty-righty masher gone awry.
2020 Projection: 98 R, 36 HR, 92 RBI, 4 SB, .242/.365/.499
Jean Segura (2B | Batting 6th)
2019: 79 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 10 SB, .280/.323/.420 | SS #22
2020 ADP: 206.2 (SS #24)
Segura’s success last year was moderate at best. He battled a medley of injuries, including but probably not limited to reports on an ankle, shin, knee, heel, and hamstring of his on separate occasions. He still made it into 144 games but, maybe understandably, never quite seemed himself. It was his first season as a major leaguer in which he stole fewer than 20 bags.
2020 may bring something new, as Segura is reportedly open to a change in position to accommodate moves the team could make. Something will have to give now with the team having signed Didi Gregorius. A move to second base that sees him gain additional positional eligibility might bump Segura’s value in this golden age of shortstops. Projections see him bouncing back to being a strong contributor in stats you’d typically pile up at the top of the lineup. He might not hit there much and, at best, he’s still probably a depth play for your squad.
Strengths: R, AVG, SB
Segura stays healthy throughout the year and makes a home for himself at the top of the lineup, upping production in runs while maintaining a good average and contributing in other counting stats. The legs are healed up and he gets back to swiping 20 bags, something only 15 other hitters managed last year.
2020 is more of the same as 2019, even if healthy. His performance buries him at the bottom of the lineup.
2020 Projection: 90 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 14 SB, .288/.334/.433
Didi Gregorius (SS | Batting 5th )
2019: 47 R, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 2 SB, .238/.276/.441 | SS #46
2020 ADP: 296.2 (SS #29)
The Phillies signed Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million contract to join their infield. He’ll push Segura to second base, while natural second baseman Scott Kingery takes over at third base. Philadelphia’s infield is weird.
That said, it might work. As Jayson Stark noted, Gregorius was effectively playing catch-up all of last season after coming back less than eight months removed from Tommy John surgery. His 2019 debut came in June and he was hardly himself. He chased a ton more and made a lot less contact. Our own Alex Fast noted that the move to Citizens Bank Park could play well for Gregorius and his pull-happy fly-ball approach. He’ll probably slot into the middle of the order and provide a good balance between the likes of Hoskins and Segura. Projections have him pegged to be more valuable to the Phillies than to our fake teams, but a hot start in a new locale could turn heads quickly.
Strengths: RBI, AVG, SLG
Gregorius comes into 2020 fully healthy and doesn’t miss a beat. He’s closer to that five-win player who mashed and put up nearly 170 combined runs and RBI. You get a late-round steal.
Gregorius scuffles out of the gate, adjusting to his new environment but only after some rough patches. He’s the low end of serviceable and finds his way into your lineup when one of your starters has a day off.
2020 Projection: 71 R, 23 HR, 83 RBI, 6 SB, .265/.313/.451
Scott Kingery (3B | Batting 7th)
2019: 64 R, 19 HR, 55 RBI, 15 SB, .258/.315/.474 | 3B #26
2020 ADP: 202.7 (3B #23)
Kingery should be eligible for at least three or four positions in your league after filling the super-utility role for the Phillies since signing a major league contract after mashing in the minors in 2017. This year, he slots in as the primary third baseman, thanks to the wayward Franco. Having one spot and job provides players with steady expectations, so, despite the prospect sheen fading, there still might be reason to watch Kingery this year.
Statcast measured out Kingery as below average in nearly everything, save for sprint speed, where he graded out faster than 90% of the league. He started catching up to heat in the zone better but still didn’t barrel the ball with any great frequency. His first two seasons in the majors saw him learning multiple positions on the fly while adjusting to the best pitchers in the world. Being afforded consistency in approach makes him interesting, but only in the last third of the draft or later.
Weaknesses: R, HR
Kingery settles into third base and we see a hitter who approaches 20/20 and can fill nearly any hole in your lineup.
The team fails to develop him into the player it saw when signing him to a six-year, $24 million deal before he’d even seen the majors, just as Philadelphia did with Franco before him.
2020 Projection: 64 R, 19 HR, 71 RBI, 15 SB, .240/.294/.405
Andrew McCutchen (LF | Batting 1st)
2019: 45 R, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB, .258/.378/.457 | OF #129
2020 ADP: 224 (OF #57)
McCutchen set the tone for the Phillies in 2019…when he was healthy. He tore his ACL running the bases in June and was out the rest of the year. The team never quite recovered, as it flailed in an effort to fill a gaping hole in the leadoff spot.
Cutch embodied how the Phillies seemed determined to steal as many strikes as possible, posting the highest walk rate of his MLB career at 16.4%, which would have ranked top-10 in all of baseball with players who had at least 200 plate appearances. Coming back from a major injury at 33 is no small task, but if he does it with the same approach, it’s hard to imagine him finishing worse than projected, which is about 160 combined runs and RBI with slightly above average power and an excellent OBP. He’d be a great third outfielder for you.
Strengths: R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG
It’s as if he never tore the ACL and he comes back to play as good as he looked here.
His mobility limits how valuable his on-base skills are and he’s a bench bat or worse for your team.
2020 Projection: 82 R, 27 HR, 76 RBI, 7 SB, .258/.359/.476
Bryce Harper (RF | Batting 3rd)
2019: 98 R, 35 HR, 114 RBI, 13 SB, .260/.372/.510 | OF #11
2020 ADP: 26.7 (OF #9)
It’s odd to think that a guy who put up 35 homers and 114 RBI gave us pause, but at times that’s what Harper did in 2019. His season reached a nadir in July when he clubbed just three dingers and mustered only 13 RBI with 11 runs. Like Realmuto, Harper put the team on his back at times as the season waned, creating moments that matched his explosive talent.
You probably don’t care about those moments unless your league counts wonky categories like grand slams or walk-off hits, but they’re still at the heart of Harper’s game and capabilities. It’s what you’re paying for in the second or third round, and why Steamer actually sees more power in his bat despite being another year older. There’s evidence that suggests players press when they join new teams and he appeared to settle into Philadelphia at the end of last season. Buy accordingly.
Strengths: R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG
Harper puts it all together, all year, and composes something that looks like that elusive nine-win MVP season becoming more distant with each year.
Injuries shape his 2020 like they did Segura’s 2019, creating tension even when he’s in the lineup. The league goes ham on throwing him fastballs up and away and he doesn’t adjust, leaving you wanting for more from an early-round pick.
2020 Projection: 102 R, 40 HR, 103 RBI, 11 SB, .259/.383/.540
Adam Haseley (CF | Batting 8th)
2019: 30 R, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 4 SB, .266/.324/.396 | OF #144
2020 ADP: Undrafted
Adam Haseley is a former 1st-rounder who managed to play in 67 games for the Phillies last year. He’s slated to open the season as the strong side of a platoon in centerfield with oft-injured Roman Quinn; the two of them will supplant Odúbel Herrera, who’s now slated for the bench, if not a DFA.
Haseley brings an odd stance and swing to the plate, for which he’s made small adjustments since becoming a pro. In his debut last year it yielded an average launch angle of nearly 24 degrees on balls in the air, which is within a solid range. The big problem might be grounders, as more than 57% of his batted balls last in play last year were smashed into the ground. His minor league track record suggests something between the low to high 40s. If he can correct that, he might become a league-average bat for the Phillies and someone to possibly eye with matchups on the waiver wire if you find yourself in a pinch. A full-ish season might see him push 15 homers and 10 steals.
Weaknesses: OBP, SLG
He becomes a league-average bat and adds enough pop to go with his steals to make him interesting at the back end of a deep bench.
He’s overtaken by a teammate and hangs out on the waiver wire without much fanfare.
2020 Projection: 39 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 4 SB, .254/.313/.403
Playing Time Battles
Roman Quinn will split time with Adam Haseley but Quinn has always had a hard time staying healthy. If he stays on the field he could be havoc on the basepaths. He’s often pushed his steals total into the 20s or 30s through the minor leagues, and almost always in less than 90 games. Herrera will likely get a shot here or there if he stays with the team, though he was capped off last year after just 39 games by a suspension for alleged domestic abuse and his play has also gotten worse each year since his debut. Jay Bruce is still on the roster and might be a bench bat who gets pressed into regular action if an injury happens. He still has power. With the offseason still relatively young, we should wait to see if the Phillies add anyone else who might siphon at-bats from the starting eight.
The core bats for the Phillies offer a lot of upside, and it’s surprisingly easy to get excited about what could happen if this roster gets rolling on all cylinders. It’s also hard to consider because of how poorly last year went. The talent and upside are there and, with a couple of players, the floor is extremely high. Beyond that, they could be interesting to follow to see if they can muster a positive surprise or two. The team’s developmental track record isn’t strong in recent years, so having a player make unexpected gains could help their season as much as it might help yours.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)