As the Phillies have gone into 2020, most of the focus this winter has been on the pitching staff and rightly so. Thinking back to last season, what do you remember? Is it the endless parade of injuries that struck the relievers? Perhaps it was the image of various starters hanging their head as the exited the fifth inning, having thrown 100 pitches or more? I’m sure we all remember fondly the arguments that were had over who should be the fifth start....wait, I’m being told those arguments aren’t over yet.
What I’ll remember is the fact that in the era of the major league “rubber ball” in which everyone and their mother hit 20 home runs, the Phillies managed to only have 215 home runs as a team, 11th in the National League and 22nd in all of baseball. For all the talk that Gabe Kapler and the old regime spoke about hitting with purpose and driving the pitch rather than simply making contact, it was a dismal year for the offense. So the team, under new manager Joe Girardi and newly hired Joe Dillon, emphasized that improvement had to come from several key players in order to improve and for the team to have hopes to contend for a playoff spot.
As it is with any team once February starts, it was mighty important as spring training started in Clearwater that the players that would be expected to head north in late March get off to good starts in order to perhaps carry over that good hitting into the regular season. So what we’re going to look at as a kick off of our preview here at The Good Phight is a brief review of how the team has hit so far. In regards to the regulars, it’s a simple question: how have they done?*
2020 Phillies regulars
- Bryce Harper looks ready don’t he? The primary source of power among the regulars this spring, it’s possible that he is primed to approach his mythical 2015 in terms of production. If he does, this team makes the playoffs, easily.
- Rhys Hoskins has undertaken the biggest mechanical change of the offseason, rebuilding his swing almost from the ground up. The results look like they are starting to show, as the four extra base hits have been nice to see. A bounceback year from Hoskins, as has been stated often, would be a boon to the offense.
- Pay. Realmuto. His. Deserved. Money.
- Hoo boy that’s a lot of strikeouts. One of the remnants of the Kapler Era is that taking a strikeout isn’t the worst thing in the world and it seems that philosophy has carried over. This will have to be something that is cleaned up.
- For a guy that we just assume will hit with a near .800 OPS with 20-25 home runs from the shortstop position.....Didi Gregorius sure hasn’t looked good. I mean, a hit would be nice. Something. We’ll chalk this one up to “it’s only spring”, but this has been less than stellar.
Every spring, there are players that hope to be on the opening roster, but are mostly brought in by the organization to either be filler for camp, or so they can fill up the minor league depth that the team needed. The Phillies are no different, having signed a lot of names that are recognizable to casual baseball fans to deals to see what they still had left in the tank, combined with several others that they need to make decisions about. Here are those results.
- I guess several of these guys were minor league deals for a reason.
- The first thing that jumps out is just how bad Nick Williams has been this spring. For a guy that saw a window of opportunity with the big league club crack open with the news that Andrew McCutchen would not start the season healthy and that the team would have an open spot in the lineup, Williams has just not performed well enough to demand a spot on the bench, let alone one in the starting lineup. A change of scenery is the best case scenario for Williams at this point if he wants to make a big league team. Here’s hoping he finds it.
- Of all the players that have been vying for the backup infielder spot, it seems that Logan Forsythe has been the best with the bat. He’s come out hitting the ball all spring and hasn’t really slowed much at all. The other candidates (Neil Walker, Josh Harrison) haven’t been nearly as effective with the bat, but we also have to point to the small sample sizes that are spring appearances. However, if we’re scouting the stat line, Forsythe would look to have the edge.
- Let’s hear it for the young guys making an impression. It’s highly doubtful that on a team with playoff aspirations that they would give serious consideration to Nick Maton and Austin Listi, but hey. They’ve done well for themselves and have merited consideration for future callups should the injury need arise.
We got a rare chance to actually watch the team on Saturday and boy did they look good. There was power, speed and on-base ability that this team did not possess last year. There was a lot of the time where they just looked like they were going through the motions, but this spring, the starters seem to be having a little more purpose to their games. Through Saturday’s game, the offense has ranked as one of the better spring offenses in the game, thanks in no small part to Harper and Realmuto.
There are some decent options for depth that will make up the Lehigh Valley roster should the team choose to keep them around, something they didn’t have much of last year. Hopefully, a deeper roster will be able to weather any storms that come their way.
*All stats through Saturday