2013 Projections: Starting Lineup

The Phillies projected 2013 lineup as constituted:

1. SS Jimmy Rollins

2. CF Ben Revere

3. 2B Chase Utley

4. 1B Ryan Howard

5. LF Darin Ruf

6. RF Domonic Brown

7. 3B Michael Young

8. C Eric Kratz

9. Pitcher’s Spot

Barring the signing of a big ticket free agent OF, such as Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher, I think Ruben rolls the dice with this lineup, not exactly awe-inspiring, but if Brown and Ruf can reach their potential, or even show flashes of what they’re capable of, this can go from an average lineup to an above-average lineup, and with our pitching, makes this a pretty dangerous team.

Jimmy Rollins, SS – Much was made about Rollins’ 3 year, 33 million dollar contract, from the talking heads saying it was a gross overpay, to the more sabr-minded crowd, a solid signing for a guy that will surely outperform his salary according to WAR, at the beginning of his contract at the least. Rollins responded with a solid year, especially surprising to me at least, was his 23 HR’s, other than that, it was a pretty typical year from Rollins, low-ish OBP, surprising pop, and solid defense at shortstop, I expect more of the same this year, and just for the record, I’m damn glad Rollins is still in red pinstripes.

2012 Statistics: .250/.316/.427 .743 OPS, 30 SB – 4.9 WAR (If you believe in WAR, that’s a deserving $20,000,000+ player, only making $11,000,000, but yeah, horrible contract right?)

MY Projected 2013: .252/.320/.410 .730 OPS, 27 SB

Ben Revere, CF- Ruben made a pretty slick move IMO with this pickup, we gave up a pretty decent prospect in RHP Trevor May, but as with all prospects, he could have a very high ceiling, possibly #3 starter potential, or he could never find his command as evidenced by his very high walk rate and at best be a back-end reliever, it depends on how you view Trevor May as to how you would react to this trade. Losing Worley doesn’t really hurt me that much because I believe that most of Worley’s success was smoke and mirrors, including a ridiculous backwards K rate which is very unsustainable. I believe Worley will find some success pitching for the Twins in that big ballpark, but even so, getting rid of Worley doesn’t really hurt me all that much, especially considering the pretty solid starting pitching prospects the Phils have all of a sudden amassed including Martin, Morgan, Biddle, etc. Anyway, on to Ben Revere, I’ve been hearing comps of Juan Pierre 2.0, alluding to his near no-power and blazing speed. But what Revere lacks in power he more than makes up with in his stellar defense in CF, stolen base ability (40 out of 49 attempts), and high contact style (only 9.8 K%). He may not walk much, but had a career .383 OBP in the minors, now I know that doesn’t translate over to the majors, but it gives me a slight reason to believe he may improve on his .OBP, and at only 24 years old, he still has a lot of upside, may even add a little muscle to his frame. The main thing I like about this trade, which I think most people are over-looking is the fact that Revere is going to be making next to nothing this year and next. Rube basically traded a #4 starter with fringy stuff and a wonky elbow, along with a prospect with a high ceiling/high risk element about him for a speedy, cost-controlled CF that’s under team control until 2017. Revere may never hit for a lot of power, but he was a 3.4 WAR player last year which equates to over $15,000,000 this guy would technically be earning! On a team that is on the older side of 30 for the most part, Revere, I believe, fits in perfectly as a cost controlled option for a high demand defensive position, Rube, for as much as I criticize him (Pence trade) really nailed it on this one IMO.

2012 Statistics: .294/.333/.342/ .675 OPS, 40 SB, 3.4 WAR

MY Projected 2013: .301/.343/.360, .703 OPS, 42 SB

Chase Utley, 2B- A lot of how this season will go depends on the health of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, I feel like Utley in particular will be relied on even more so, something tells me Utley still has a lot of good baseball left in him, knees be damned! I expect another high OBP year from Utley which is pretty much the norm, or at least what we’ve come to expect. I’m not sure how much power Utley has left, but you can always expect the guy to take a walk (career .376 OBP), run the bases extremely well (career 43.0 BsR), and play a pretty solid second base (career 98.0 Fld). I think Utley will go down as one of the most UNDERrated players of our time when his career is over and we can look back and truly appreciate his body of work.

2012 Statistics: .256/.365/.429, .794 OPS, 11 SB 3.2 WAR (in only 362 PA mind you.)

MY Projected 2013: .266./.371/.450, .821 OPS,

Ryan Howard, 1B- The maddening Ryan Howard, long, long ball extraordinaire, and the main victim of LOOGY’s everywhere, Howard can either carry a team on his back or flail helplessly at breaking ball after breaking ball. Coming off a pretty serious Achilles injury, Howard had a pretty down year, with that injury pretty much sapping his power and making him virtually a statue at first base and a liability on the basepaths. I expect with the whole winter to heal and get himself back into solid shape, Howard will have a pretty good year in 2013, mashing mammoth HR’s like the Howard of old. I don’t think we’ll ever see him duplicate his ’06 numbers, but a return to a 30+ HR total doesn’t seem out of the question. People like to ride Howard, but he had a pretty serious injury, and I think he tried to overcompensate, which caused his walk rate to be the lowest of his career (8.6%) along with his .287 BABIP, which was also a career low. Again, a healthy Howard should be a boost to a lineup that was fairly power-deficient last year, even if his defense isn’t quite up to par. If he can return to modest Howard-like numbers, that contract won’t look QUITE so bad after seeing what Mark Teixeira and an aging Albert Pujols received in an inflated market.

2012 Statistics: .219/.295/.423, .718 OPS, 14 HR in 292 PA

MY Projected 2013: .245/.342/.501, .843 OPS, 34 HR

Darin Ruf, LF- I wish I could tell you what Rube’s going to do about at least one of the corner OF spots..will he sign a Nick Swisher or Josh Hamilton? Will he go on the cheap and sign a Scott Hairston, or Cody Ross? (God help us all.) The only way I give up my 16th pick is for Hamilton and to a lesser extent Swisher if the money and years fit. And then you have Darin Ruf, who mashed his way through AA all the way to the Majors in a years time hitting 38 HR’s in the minor leagues and adding 3 more in the big leagues. Most people seem to think that Ruf can’t cut it, his swing has too much of an uppercut in it, he can’t catch up to Major League fastballs, he’s too old to be a prospect, and was never highly regarded, etc , etc. I OTOH, and you can call me crazy, believe in Ruf’s bat, I’m no scout, nor do I claim to be, but I’ve seen a bunch of Ruf’s minor league clips, and I’ve seen him a decent amount in the big leagues, watched a couple of his HR clips, one of his bases-clearing doubles, and for some reason, he just seems legit to me, the bat speed is there, he’s got crazy power, and he’s willing to use the whole field. Now I agree with most of the commenters here that playing him in LF may be a bit of a stretch, but now that we’ve acquired Revere, I don’t think it’s as much of an issue, besides, he may be a little below average, but I think he’ll be adequate enough to hold down LF without losing too much. After all, the Phillies have a history of playing slow-footed left fielder’s just to get their bat into the lineup, think Luzinski, Burrell, Ibanez, and besides, you can always replace him late in the game with Mayberry and not lose much with the bat in the process, it also keeps Mayberry fresh, and as a 4th OF which I feel he’s best suited for. A lot hinges on Amaro and the front office’s faith in Ruf, will Amaro feel like he HAS to sign an OF with some pop for fear of Ruf tanking? Or does he feel like Ruf can put up the numbers that a Swisher could put up for the league minimum? If it was up to me, I’d be willing to roll the dice on Ruf and allocate the cash saved elsewhere, either on another starting pitcher, or some bullpen help, maybe Mike Adams and take a flyer on Francisco Liriano? At worst he can mash lefties in a platoon with Nix, not the optimal solution I know, but is investing in either OF that’s already over 30 a good way to spend money either? Only time will tell, but put me in the “Give Ruf a chance” camp.

2012 Statistics: 1.028 OPS in Minors w/ 38 HR’s.

.333/.351/.727 1.078 OPS with the Phillies with 3 HR’s in 37 PA.

MY Projected 2013: .280, .355, .578, 31 HR’s

Domonic Brown, RF- It’s make or break year for Dom, time to see if he can put the tools that scouts used to rave about to good use. Coincidentally, this will be the first time Dom goes into the season pretty much knowing he has a position, and will get to play every day in the big leagues, which is what he truly deserves. I for one, am still a huge Dom fan, I love his plate discipline, his ability to take close pitches, his cannon arm, and smooth swing. He’ll still misplay a few fly balls on you, but I think he’s become a much better fielder than he used to be. People need to remember that this guy was extremely raw when he was drafted, so it takes the guy a little time to develop, probably a little longer than anyone wanted or expected, but I really think this is the year he puts it all together and the time and patience spent grooming Dom comes to fruition. He should get every opportunity to play every day, and if he doesn’t, then that will be the biggest travesty RAJ and company can make in his tenure in my opinion, and that’s saying something, I mean, do I really need to remind you of the Pence trade….? Didn’t think so. Let Dom play every day and see what you have, I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2012 Statistics: .758 OPS in AAA

.235/.316/.396 .712 OPS with the Phillies with 5 HR’s in 212 PA.

MY Projected 2013: .277/.359/.435 .794 OPS 18 HR’s

Michael Young, 3B- The newly acquired Michael Young, ahh, where to start? Well at least, we didn’t give up much is all I can say, I loved Bonilla just as much as the next guy, and while he had a sick 12.4 K/9, I feel like we dealt from a position of strength, as we’re pretty flush with RH relievers in our system, and Lindblom, I had a fear of his HR/FB tendencies when he came over from the Dodgers, and I think that will only get worse when he starts pitching in Arlington, because flyballs tend to turn into home runs at that park, so no big loss with Lindblom really. Young’s just one season removed from a tremendous .338/.380/.474 slash line. While it’s pretty much a universal fact that Young was one of worst players in baseball last year, his 2011 line gives me a little hope that he can return somewhat to form in 2013, because even though his 2011 line was BABIP driven (.367) his career is somewhat high at .334 so it’s not THAT much of an increase, if he can even return to his career BABIP next year, he should have a pretty decent year. His defense is really where he’ll hurt the Phillies though, the guy is not much of a 3B at all anymore, hopefully Rollins can kind of shade his way and take some plays away that would otherwise get through the hole. Hopefully his offense will make up for his shortcomings on defense, because after all, it’s only a one year stopgap until hopefully Asche will be ready. Even if Young is a 1-2 WAR player then he’ll come close to matching or even exceeding the 6mm that the Phils are paying him this year, and that’s not THAT bad. Hell, just getting rid of Lindblom and his -1.1 WAR and replacing him with DeFratus’ 0.1 is a net gain lol. So let’s just hope and pray that Young’s ready to prove everyone wrong, including his former team, and lights it up next year! Wishful thinking!

2012 Statistics: .277/.312/.370, .682 OPS, 8 HR’s

MY Projected 2013: .285/.322/.409, .731 OPS, 12 HR’s

Erik Kratz/Carlos Ruiz, C- Chooch, you cut me deep, man, so very deep…and just when I thought 2012 couldn’t get any worse! The horror, I can’t wait for yesterday to get here so the whole world will end! Oh….wait. I believe it was Professor Cohen that told us all to get down off the ledge, and he couldn’t have been more correct. I don’t really need to reiterate everything he stated, go read it if you’re still mortified by the suspension of Chooch, good read, and just to condense it, Chooch has never played a full 162 game schedule, because let’s face it, most catchers don’t, it’s a demanding position, and to expect that is a bit unrealistic. Not to mention that Chooch isn’t exactly injury free, he’s had several stints on the DL since he’s been in the majors. Yes, Ruiz did have an incredible season last year, and maybe it was partially attributed to the adderall (though I don’t think so), it was still a career outlier and I wouldn’t expect it to indicate his future performance, so essentially when Chooch comes down to earth (which he will, .339 BABIP, career .295) we’ll be missing more like his career norms, and if you go by the Bill James model, he has Chooch at a .280/.365/.436 .801 OPS line for 2013. Chooch will always take a walk, keep his strikeout rate down, and play fantastic defense, and I expect more of the same. Now onto the enigma that is Erik Kratz, coming out of nowhere as a minor league journeyman at age 32, Kratz burst onto the Philly scene, with a small cameo in 2011, to an extended look in 2012 posting an .809 OPS and 1.4 WAR in only 157 PA! Now I personally think Kratz will come down to earth a bit, but he still has an excellent arm and pop (.506 SLUG) and that’s really all you can ask for in a backup catcher, Kratz will more than hold it down while Chooch is out.

Ruiz 2012: .325/.394/.540 5.5 WAR

MY Projected 2013: .289/373/.504 15 HR

Kratz 2012: .240/.306./504 1.4 WAR

MY Projected 2013: .238/.299/.490 10 HR

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