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In the wake of tragedy: don’t forget about Nick Williams

The 25 year-old is struggling - to say the least - but where does his future lie with this current Phillies team?

Photo via Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports

Okay, I’ll say it straight up; Nick Williams is struggling, and he’s struggling heavily.

The 25 year-old is swinging with reckless abandon, striking out in around 33% of his 2019 plate apperances. Right now, it would be considered a blessing just to see him put his bat to a ball.

This has the entirety of the Philadelphia fanbase buzzing, and most are pleading for Williams to be shipped off to a non-contender in exchange for some much needed starting pitching.

Well, I’ve got news for you, folks; Nick Williams currently has almost zero value in a trade of any consequence.

So, why am I defending him? What’s so great about this kid that he deserves any more of a leash than that of his former teammate, Aaron Altherr?

His Circumstance:

Williams hasn’t exactly had a fair shot at proving himself in 2019. Of the 43 games he’s appeared in, he’s started in just 10 of them — meaning that, amidst his existing struggles to adjust this year, he’s being thrown into games in progress, and forced to see pitching he’s had no time to pick up. That is anything but an easy feat.

There’s also the matter that the Phillies have been plagued with some extremely poor luck in regards to outfield playability. They’ve had two members of their season-starting outfield go on to become indisposed permanently, including the recent gut-punch that was Andrew McCutchen’s season-ending injury.

At this point, the absolute worst thing this team could do is deal Major League ready outfield depth for menial pieces at the deadline — especially when you have multitudes of attractive pieces in your farm system, as the Phillies do, to get the necessary deals done.

His Age:

It’s oft overlooked how young Nicky Dubs was in his premiere season. The nubile lefty debuted at age 23, and put up some surprisingly impressive numbers. Throughout his 2017 campaign, Williams slashed .288/.338/.473 with 12 homers in 83 games — and he followed it up with a solid 2018.

Williams, unlike the aforementioned Altherr, is just 25 years of age, and has minor league options to spare. This being the case — instead of shipping Williams for next-to-no value, why not let him remain in Lehigh Valley? Let him figure himself out, and then, once he’s regained his composure with some consistent playing time, he can return to the primary squad, and serve, at worst, as an impressive fourth outfielder.

It is also important to note that baseball is increasing primary rosters to 26 men next year, so the Phillies will have an extra bench/bullpen slot to work with — and this team could always use another lefty power bat.

His Pedigree:

I’ve written about Williams and his background before, but it is still consistently overlooked that, for a time, the outfielder was a Top-50 prospect across all of baseball. His sweet swing, surprising pop, and overall well-rounded skillset were enough to warrant a decent amount of hype for the kid, and he didn’t disappoint.

Throughout his Minor League career, Williams slashed a solid .286/.331/.478 with an .809 OPS and 77 Home Runs. He raked at every level, and only hit a minor speed bump in his first time through Triple-A.

I know this won’t seem important to most — but it’s always worth noting when a player can produce at each level of ball.

His Clutch Hits:

Nick is no stranger to clutch situations, especially when pinch hitting.

Or even with runners in scoring position:

Dubs received major recognition in 2018 coming off the bench — and said recognition was rightfully earned.

Williams slashed a mighty .357/.419/.714 with 3 long balls in 31 pinch-hit scenarios in 2018, and was seen across all of baseball as one of the most fearsome bench bats in the league.

Yet, that same success has alluded him thus far in 2019, as Williams is slashing an abysmal .120/.185/.120 in 27 opportunities off the bench.

If he can re-find the success that he was able to conjure up in 2018, Williams will have no trouble at all slotting into the aforementioned 4th outfielder position, one that is of current vacancy on this 2019 Phillies team.

His Potential:

Ah yes, the dreaded word, “potential.”

It’s impossible to point to just one factor to blame for Williams’ utter implosion. The fact of the matter is, as previously mentioned, he needs regular playing time in order to get his head right, thus explaining his current residence in Lehigh Valley.

Those same raw tools from Williams’ scouting reports of old are what make him so enticing as an asset. A player does not simply wake up one day and lose any semblance of skill that they had the day before. The Nick Williams we once knew is still in there, and it’s important that we remain patient, and give him the chance to return to form.

Besides, you already know that, if we ship Nick, he’ll ascend to stratospheric heights with some other team like the Giants or Indians — who are particularly short on the outfield front.

He has the ability to slug 30 bombs a year, and put together an easy .270/.340/.450 slash — I for one would be thrilled to have a player of that caliber as my insurance policy.

I should mention, if any team is willing to properly value Nick Williams in a trade, then OF COURSE I would be open to shipping him. That said, I don’t think, given his recent struggles, that any club will be willing to pay the true price for the reputable outfielder.

Nick Williams is an endearing, hard-working, and overall talented athlete. Any team would be lucky to have a player, and person, of his caliber on their squad.

Why on earth would we simply toss him aside?