By AJ Janetzke
2018 Record: 80-82 (3rd NL East)
2018 Payroll: $104,297,471 (23rd)
(Lineup and Rotation from Rotochamp and Projected Stats from Steamer)
2019 Projected Lineup:
- LF Andrew McCutchen, .263 AVG/.362 OBP/.474 SLG, 2.8 WAR
- SS Jean Segura, .284 AVG/.330 OBP/.415 SLG, 2.5 WAR
- Bryce Harper, .260 AVG/.395 OBP/.530 SLG, 4.6 WAR
- C J.T. Realmuto, .269 AVG/.325 OBP/.457 SLG, 3.9 WAR
- 1B Rhys Hoskins, .249 AVG/.351 OBP/.500 SLG, 3.5 WAR
- 3B Maikel Franco, .263 AVG/.318 OBP/.473 SLG, 2.1 WAR
- CF Odubel Herrera, .267 AVG/.327 OBP/.426 SLG, 2.0 WAR
- 2B Cesar Hernadez, .256 AVG/.350 OBP/.365 SLG, 2.0 WAR
2019 Projected Rotation:
- Aaron Nola, 194 IP/3.56 ERA/1.19 WHIP, 4.1 WAR
- Jake Arrieta, 181 IP/4.24 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 2.3 WAR
- Vince Velasquez, 137 IP/4.40 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 1.4 WAR
- Nick Pivetta, 160 IP/4.00 ERA/1.26 WHIP, 2.0 WAR
- Zach Eflin, 145 IP/4.61 ERA/1.32 WHIP, 1.2 WAR
The Phillies made the moves they needed to do to become contenders. We all heard the recent news about the most expensive free agent deal in baseball history. We will be seeing Bryce Harper in a number 3 jersey for a long time. After the Harper signing, according to Vegas, the Phillies have the 5th best odds to win the World Series, tied with Cubs at 10/1 odds. From trades to free agent signings, the Phillies put in major work this offseason to revamp their lineup into a World Series contending team.
The Phillies are coming off a very average season, finishing two games under .500. They did make some significant moves over this offseason to hopefully set them up for an NL East title and maybe even World Series contention. On December 3rd, they finished a blockbuster deal with the Seattle Mariners. The Phillies gave away first baseman Carlos Santana and their young shortstop, J.P. Crawford. In return, they managed to obtain two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura, and two relievers, right-hander Juan Nicasio and left-hander James Pazos. The Phillies said goodbye to an overpaid and aging Santana and welcomed a 28-year-old Segura who almost won the All-Star Game MVP and finished the 2018 season hitting .304 with a solid 4.3 WAR. In 2016, the Mariners called him the team’s future, but here he is a Philly. This trade was very controversial about whether the Mariners got enough in return (Editor’s note: THEY DIDN’T), but they said that Segura’s value wasn’t as high as most people think he is worth. Nevertheless, Segura will be an excellent addition to a rebuilding Phillies team full of young talent. As for the pitchers, Nicasio is coming off a poor season with a 1-6 record, a 6.00 ERA, and -1.1 bWAR. One thing to point out is how low his FIP is compared to his ERA. His FIP totaled 2.99, a shocking 3.01 lower than his ERA, and actually led him to post a positive fWAR. This can show that maybe he got unlucky with a lot of the hits and runs he gave up. Pazos had a much better season, posting a 0.8 bWAR with a 2.88 ERA. To just put the FIP and ERA difference into perspective, Pazos posted a 3.60 FIP which is .072 higher than his ERA. This actually shows that Pazos was more on the lucky end with regards to hits dropping and runs scoring off them.
Another trade involved the acquisition of LHP Jose Alvarez for RHP Luis Garcia. Alvarez is coming off an impressive 1.4 WAR season, posting a 2.71 ERA in 63 IP. It is evident that the Phillies feel a need to strengthen their bullpen that overall struggled to put up quality numbers last season. Also, David Robertson was a later free agent signing to continue adding to the bullpen. Robertson was the setup man for the Yankees, getting 145 holds in 8.5 seasons, one of which where he replaced Mariano Rivera as closer and saved 39 games. He also tallied 84 saves in 2.5 seasons with the White Sox. Robertson will be a valuable asset late in games for the Phillies coming out of the bullpen.
Another big trade brought in the top catcher in the league, J.T. Realmuto, from the Miami Marlins. It cost them their starting catcher, Jorge Alfaro, RHP Sixto Sanchez, LHP Will Stewart, and future considerations. Realmuto finished 2018 as an All-Star and the NL Silver Slugger at catcher, posting a 4.3 WAR and an OPS+ of 131. There’s not too much to be said here. Realmuto will produce some monster numbers both offensively and defensively for the Phillies in 2019.
A great free agent signing was 5-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen (It seems to me that the Phillies like their All-Stars). A 3-year $50 million deal is great for the Phillies. The addition of McCutchen in the outfield greatly strengthens their already growing team. While McCutchen is a 5-time All-Star, those days are mostly passed him. Over the past couple of years, he has become a .250 average hitter with decent power, hitting 20 home runs with the Giants and Yankees last year. Regardless, he is a solid addition to the Phillies stellar outfield and will be a great hitter at the top of the lineup with his .368 OBP last season.
I’ll finally get to the largest contract in MLB history. Many people have different viewpoints over whether the Phillies overpaid Harper or not. In my personal opinion, this is worth it at the current moment. We will ultimately judge this deal by how many World Series the Phillies win with Harper, but I think this sets them up very well for the future. Like I said earlier, the Phillies are now 5th in odds to win the World Series, up from 11th before the offseason. 13 years is a long time, but Harper is 26. He probably won’t play through his age-40 season, but nonetheless, you have one of the best players in the league secured on your team for the remainder of his career. If $330 million for 13 years was what it was going to take to get Harper to choose Philly over San Fransisco, then I believe that it’s worth it. I think we saw the bottom level of Harper last season. He hit .249, yet he still had 34 HR and 100 RBI. Most impressively, he had a .393 OBP despite his mediocre batting average. He led the league with 130. His “bad” season still got him an All-Star Game appearance and a Home Run Derby trophy. Harper’s talent isn’t going anywhere for around the next 8 years. With contracts continuing to rise in value due to inflation, this deal won’t seem as extreme as it does now after those 8 years are up. By then, Harper will have lived up to his value when he’s playing in his prime. At the end of the day, this is a great player to build around and puts them in a great place moving forward.
Lastly, I feel the need as a Tigers fan to point out the best signing of the year done by the Phillies: Andrew Romine. That’s right, the player who played all nine positions in one game. Best utility player to ever play the game of baseball. Bring him up Phillies. Bring him up.
Record Prediction: 91-72
The Phillies won 80 games last season. They now have added not one, not two, not three, but four All-Stars to their lineup, one of them being Bryce Harper. It will be a good contest between them and the Braves this year for first place in the NL East, but I think the Phillies will come out on top. They are actual World Series contenders this year, and I think 91 wins is well within reach for them this year.
Player to Watch: Jean Segura
It would be easy to pick Bryce Harper as the star of the team, but I think Segura will be a stand out star this year. Segura is an excellent contact hitter with only a 10.9 K% which is the 4th lowest among qualified hitters. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues his streak of hitting above .300 and scores over 100 runs this season with Harper, Realmuto, and Hoskins batting behind him. While he doesn’t hit for power, if he manages to get on base in any way, his teammates behind him will no doubt be able to drive him in. His success at the plate will reflect the success of the Phillies as a whole.
Player to Watch: Adonis Medina
Medina started one game for the Phillies so far in Spring Training and threw for 2.2 innings. He did give up 2 runs, but this doesn’t tell his whole story. The Phillies currently have a 32-year-old Jake Arrieta as their number 2 in the rotation. That probably won’t cut it for long. They need some young talent at pitching to give them the boost they need to win a championship. Medina could be that player. He averages less than one home run against him per 9 and holds a career ERA at 3.21. Over the past 2 seasons, he has averaged 10 K/9. He has been in the organization for 5 years and is only 22 years old. He has plenty of time to break out and become a strong part of the rotation for the near future.
Player to Watch: Alec Bohm
Alec is currently the #2 prospect in the Phillies farm system and 66th in the MLB. The Phillies drafted him 3rd overall as a 3rd baseman in the 2018 MLB draft. Alec spent the 2018 season in rookie ball but was quickly called up to Williamsport. After getting hit by a pitch in the knee, he was sent to the DL because of a nerve issue. He spent most of the season on a rehab assignment in rookie ball. He hit .391 with the GCL Phillies West, .222 with the GCL Phillies East, and .224 at Williamsport (.252 cumulative). Like Medina, he is also 22 years old with great potential. As the number 3 pick, there is some pressure on him to live up to the standards of a top pick, but if he can stay healthy, his hitting will only get better. With more experience, his fielding will get better as well, and he could play a major role for the team, either as a replacement for Maikel Franco or as a potential trade target.