Each year, we anxiously await the projections that different sites put out about the Phillies. With the rest of the fanbase locked in with the lockout, there is precious little to read about when it comes to baseball, so when we get a chance to dig in to any kind of projection, we DIG IN.
The first that we see so far is Fangraphs’ ZiPs projections. Dan Szymborski does a magnificent job each year compiling these numbers and this year is no exception. We’ll include the link to the entire article here along with all of the numbers that you can get into yourself, but there are some things to highlight and discuss a little more.
In left, Andrew McCutchen was never better than simply a temporary stopgap; now that he’s gone, the Phillies don’t have a better idea. There’s still more of the offseason to come, but as of now, fans should be apprehensive about these two positions.
Left field is the biggest need that the team has and as noted, nothing has been done to upgrade the spot. The good news is that the team knows this and still, even with the free agent frenzy that preceded the lockout, has options on the table that could seriously help.
We have all seen the rumors that surround Kyle Schwarber, but if something should happen where he goes elsewhere, the team could easily pivot to someone like Kris Bryant or Nick Castellanos. So while yes, the team’s left (and center) field situations look dire at the moment, the opportunity to improve is still there for them post-lockout. And if the groups somehow come together and create an agreement where it gives the Phillies more money to spend, it’ll be all the better.
On the plus side, the offensive projections are solid elsewhere, to the degree that the Phillies could have a lineup in the top third of the league if the value of their stars isn’t eroded by having to haul around the two current positional millstones.
I think one of the things national people are seriously underselling is the offensive potential this lineup actually does have. The fulcrum of the offense is already in place (Bryce Harper), complimentary pieces are there to make the engine run (Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura) and there is even a player that has shown flashes before, but suffered sophomore struggles that are nothing new in the game (Alec Bohm).
The pieces are already in place for this team to have a solid offensive foundation and that doesn’t even include the possibility that Didi Gregorius bounces back, that someone like Matt Vierling, whose batted ball stats are good, breaks out a bit and gives the team unexpected production. And as we mentioned earlier, the team is still looking to add players to the lineup.
Of course, we said this prior to 2021 and look what happened.
The bullpen is in better shape. Corey Knebel was one of the best relievers available, so bringing him into the fold represents a major upgrade. Ryan Sherriff is a great bounce-back candidate, basically acquired for free, and Bailey Falter projects as solidly above-average in the pen. Add in a healthy Seranthony Dominguez, and I think people will be surprised just how good this group is after a rather blecch 2021.
Another thing we are missing is that this bullpen could be pretty solid. It would have been nice to get a real closer and with someone like Aroldis Chapman still on the market, it’s possible that the team still might. Signing Knebel, though, does give them someone who has been a closer before and has been pretty good at it. He also cost a lot less than Chapman or Raisel Iglesias would have, so the team made a pretty good move there.
Sherriff being a bounceback candidate feels like a stretch, but stranger things have happened. Outside of the names mentioned here, the team still does have Sam Coonrod and Connor Brogdon in the bullpen, so the pieces are there to have something quite solid compared to the bullpens of Phillies past.
This is just the first projection we’ll see and we’ll get to more as they arrive.