It's hard to say how many times exuberant fist pumps have occurred while watching Philies baseball in the last three or four years. Yet there I was last night, shortly past 7:00 PM, when Andres Blanco forced me to throw a, will you say, Danny Briere style fist pump (sorry, non Broad Street Hockey readers) across the living room.
Blanco's two-run first inning homer off of Max Scherzer put the Phillies up early, and though there were some mistakes along the way that caused the Phillies to cough up that early lead, the tone was set in part early due to Blanco's homerun.
Andres Blanco. He's 32 years old. He has spent his fair share of time bouncing around to various teams performing various tasks with various levels of playing time. It is the life of a bench guy after all. There's no real rhyme or reason as to why he's becoming better at baseball as the time passes (Alright, there probably is one that can be found on Fangraphs) but he could be the best utility player the Phillies have had in years. He may be one of the best utility players in all of baseball at this point. And he's all ours.
He even has a nickname, "Whitey." Gotta love it. And while nobody is going to confuse Blanco with Richie Ashburn, it at least adds to the legend a little bit, right?
After his homer last night, even Larry Bowa apparently had his hardened, old-school heart melted by Blanco, asking Pete Mackanin in the dugout if the utility infielder would get another crack in the starting lineup Wednesday night. Pete's not going to budge, according to Matt Gelb:
"He is who he is," Mackanin said. "If he played every day, he might not be the same type of player. It's hard to find a player who can do what he does."
Alright, skip, if you're going to have to rain on everyone's parade, at least you're doing it in your congenial, aw-shucks friendly manner. We're cool, Pete. We're cool. But a few more at-bats would be alright, okay?
Best of all, Blanco's not going to stand for the shenanigans that part-time players have to deal with.
I love this Andres Blanco quote on calling time out vs. Scherzer. Such a career bench player quote. pic.twitter.com/cjbj2lsi2d— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) April 27, 2016
You tell 'em, Andres. You tell 'em.
Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez will continue to get at-bats. That much is certain. Blanco hasn't played left field in his career. He has notched five innings in right field. It's hard to imagine him seeing any time out there. Peter Bourjos is safe for another day.
So Blanco will just continue to be "the extra guy", doing the work that not many Major Leaguers seem to succeed at. At the very least he has removed the 25th man on the roster moniker, and has turned himself into a pretty damn dependable bat when the Phillies have needed it.
But if he is going to keep posting a slash-line of .346/.433/.577, maybe he is closer to the old "Whitey" after all.