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2019 Phillies in review: Nick Williams

The enigmatic outfielder knew his playing time would be cut with the free agent signings. He just didn’t know how much

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Philadelphia Phillies v Detroit Tigers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Final line:

.151/.196/.245, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3.6 BB%, 38.4 K%, 12 wRC+, -0.9 fWAR

The good:

Um, he didn’t pout when he was demoted?

In the purely objective sense, there isn’t much that we can say was good about Williams’ season. He didn’t have a starting job after the team signed two former MVPs in the offseason and without regular work, he never could get in a rhythm at the plate. However, as Matt Gelb talked about in his profile for the Athletic, the fact that Williams could even make it back to the field after losing the brother he was so close to is the biggest win of his season. From Gelb’s article:

Since he rejoined the Phillies, he hasn’t talked about what happened much with his teammates. He wants to separate family and baseball — and it is uncommon to experience the kind of personal and professional challenges that Williams has faced in 2019.

“I never want to be the guy who is depressed or sad,” Williams said. “Everyone goes through stuff in their life. You can’t put a level on something. That’s why I go through every day and try to see the good in everyone and life. There’s no time for anything else. You grieve. But I don’t want to be someone who mopes. I don’t know what the guy to the left or right of me is going through.”

While most of the time, we as fans try and judge a player’s season based solely on the field, we must also consider how their off the field lives are playing a part in their performance. It has to be crushing to play the game your brother taught you to love every day, and then suddenly lose that inspiration. So, even though there wasn’t a whole lot going well for Williams on the diamond, the fact he was even able to get himself motivated every day has to count for something.

The bad:

Pretty much everything else. 2019 is more or less a lost season for Williams. He knew that once McCutchen and Harper signed, he wouldn’t start. Even the platoon happy manager wasn’t taking out Cutch when a right handed was on the mound, so the only at bats available would be of the pinch hitting or designated hitter variety. Once those dried up, he was demoted to Lehigh Valley.

And never recovered.

Sure, his numbers there were good (.316/.381/.574), but it’s been apparent that he’s too good for minor league pitching for some time. He fell out of the good graces of the organization and didn’t get back in. Between July 26 and the end of the season, Williams had nine plate appearances. It’s not possible for anyone to succeed when they go that long between major league appearances.

So now what?

The future:

We all know the answer. If Williams is going to succeed, it’ll be in another major league organization. He’s finished here. Not that he isn’t talented; he clearly is. But he’s the type of hitter that needs reps against major league pitching to reach a ceiling that once made him a top 40 prospect. His trade value is at an all time low, but a rebuilding team would be wise to part with something of value in order to obtain his services. Here’s hoping he gets that chance.