Much of the talk of the spring has dealt with concerns about from where the Phillies were going to generate some power this season.
After all, when you look at the projected everyday lineup, it's hard to see where the dingers are going to come from. The outfield of Peter Bourjos, Odubel Herrera and Tyler Goeddel hit a combined 12 Major League homers last season. Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez combined for just eight, and the catcher position between Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp hit 11.
The only two positions at which the Phils could reasonably count on a little bit of power are first base and third base. Darin Ruf, Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco all have the ability to hit the ball over the fence with some regularity.
Outside of that, the projections are ugly. So yeah, everyone figured the Phillies would lead all National League teams in homers this spring. Sure we did.
|Chicago White Sox
The Tigers and White Sox are the only two teams in baseball this spring that has gone yard more than the Phils. So how is this happening? What is going on here?
Well, for starters, the Phillies brought a home run machine named Maikel Franco down to Clearwater with them this year.
Franco has been on a baseball-killing rampage this spring, leading everyone in the sport with six longballs in 11 games. No one else has more than four. Last week I wrote about Franco's red-hot start to the spring and, hard as it is to believe, he's gotten even hotter.
But he's not the only one off to a powerful start in these fun fake games. Darin Ruf has a multi-homer game to his credit and has hit three so far this spring. Two of those homers are off right-handers, by the way, although one of those right-handers was Kyle Kendrick, so take that for what it's worth.
Sorry, Kyle. Too easy.
J.P. Arencibia and Cameron Rupp both have two, with Rupp's coming in the same game. Nine other players all have a single dinger, although many of them are players who are either out for the year because of injury (still weeping about Aaron Altherr, guys), or will start the year in the minors (Nick Williams, Andrew Knapp, and Roman Quinn).
And while it's still true that the Phils will likely struggle to hit the ball out of the yard with any regularity once the team heads north to Cincinnati for the season opener, there is a possibility that at least two positions will provide them with a little bit of power.
It's entirely possible the first base platoon of Ruf and Howard produces 40 homers. Last year, Howard hit 23 long balls in 503 plate appearances, and Ruf added another 12 in 297 PAs (some of those were in the outfield, though). That's 35 home runs, and it's reasonable to think that Ruf, given enough PAs against lefties, could hit 15-17 homers. If Howard can stay in the 23-25 homer range, you're looking at a powerful platoon at first.
The other revelation is the incredible power stroke displayed by Franco so far this spring. He was already well on his way to being one of the more impressive young power hitters in baseball last year, and now, everyone is seeing the true potential in his bat.
Yes, spring training statistics are largely irrelevant. But Franco's homer splurge doesn't seem inconsequential, and it's hard to envision a scenario where he doesn't hit at least 30 homers this year if he stays healthy. Is 35 out of the question? It certainly doesn't seem so right now.
And it was nice to see Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel go yard to lead off the game on Monday, but that will probably be more the exception than the rule this year. It's hard to imagine the starting outfield trio of Goeddel, Herrera and Bourjos combining for more than 20 in 2016.
But reinforcements could be on the way sooner rather than later. Nick Williams could be an impact bat in the outfield by the latter part of the year. Andrew Knapp could be too. And with Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford also possibilities for later in the season, a presumed-to-be punchless offense could suddenly be a bit more interesting.
The homer barrage during spring training has been surprising and fun. And while it's likely Franco and Ruf will continue to go yard once the regular season rolls around, it's hard to see the Phils as a team near the top of the leaderboard in homers by season's end.
Enjoy it while is lasts.