Each year, we make predictions. Rarely do they come true in the form that we see at the beginning of the year. Instead, we’re forced to make adjustments to what we see on the field as the season progresses. That doesn’t stop our fearless writers here at The Good Phight, for today we unveil our one bold prediction for this season, going out on a limb and risking our professional writing careers on this one claim that we know to be true!
Don’t click back here in September.
It would be easy to make the simple predictions. “The Phillies will win the division”, “Bryce Harper will be the MVP”, etc. These are the ones that have an air of plausibility about them, something that really might happen if you squint hard enough and adjust the rose tint on your glasses. Me, I’m favoring the bold. I’m going with a big one: Alec Bohm will finish top 5 in MVP voting. He couldn’t have started off his Phillies career in a better way. Breaking him in in a shorter burst where teams couldn’t really expose his weaknesses was a stroke of luck for the team and this year they’ll reap the rewards. Bohm this spring has looked great, showing power to all parts of the field. It’s a small sample, but he also has been pretty good while in the field. Hitting behind some decent table setters at the top of the lineup, Bohm will have a chance to put up the kinds of numbers writers like to base their MVP votes on. He has two other options on the team to siphon votes from him, but it won’t matter. Bohm is primed to take the leap this year.
Mickey Moniak impressed all of us with his limited play in spring training. The 2016 first round pick finally seems to be on the cusp of becoming a Major Leaguer, so I’m sure you’re thinking the prediction coming is “Moniak will be the starting center fielder by season’s end.” That is fairly bold, but as they say, go big or go home. To stick with Ethan’s theme, Mickey Moniak will finish top 5 in ROY voting. It would be pretty outrageous for him to win it, since Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pirates appears to be a lock barring a surprising disappointing season, but Moniak seems to have the confidence to succeed this year. He showed progress at Reading in 2019 before unfortunately having the minor league season cancelled last year. I think Moniak gets off to a hot start in Lehigh Valley, gets called up maybe around mid-May, and doesn’t look back. #WhyNotMick
I think the Phillies will have four different players make the All-Star team for the first time in ten years. J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Aaron Nola are all projected to be some of the top players at their positions. If they live up to those projections, they all have a very good chance of making the team. After those three, no one else has great odds to be an All-Star, but there are enough guys within striking distance that I think at least one of them will squeak through. Zack Wheeler and Alec Bohm could both be All-Stars if they put up first-half numbers similar to their stats from 2020. Rhys Hoskins is as good a first baseman as anyone in the NL not named Freddie Freeman or Paul Goldschmidt. With a first-half hot streak, he could easily be an All-Star. Jean Segura has a shot too, if for no other reason than the fact that second base isn’t a particular strong position in the NL this year. Didi Gregorius, on the other hand, has steep competition at shortstop, but he’s a good enough player that he deserves to be on this list.
Oh, and if four All-Stars isn’t a bold enough prediction, I’ll take it one step further. I think it’s more likely the Phillies will have five All-Stars than it is that they only have one.
The Phillies will acquire Lorenzo Cain at the deadline. The Phillies and Brewers enter the season with similar season projections. But as the actual season plays out, the Brewers will fall behind the Cardinals and Cubs in the Central race and be even further out for the final wild card spot. Meanwhile, fortune smiles on the Phillies: they find themselves only a couple games back of the Mets for the East lead and a couple games up on the Braves for the chance at a winner-take-all game in October against the Padres. The Brewers are looking for a way to retool for next season, and the Phillies are looking for someone, anyone to push them over the edge and into the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Given their on-going struggles in centerfield they identify Cain as that someone (rightly or wrongly) on the back of a BABIP-fueled rejuvenation. In light of Cain’s salary and age, the Brewers receive Roman Quinn and Adonis Medina in return. The Phillies think they have the veteran CF to slot between Moniak and Harper for the next few years of their competitive window.
Rhys Hoskins will lead the Phillies to their first playoff appearance in a decade. Now, don’t get me wrong. Rhys Hoskins will not be the team’s MVP - I have that listed as Bryce Harper. But it will be his new-found consistency in 2021 that will give the Phillies the boost they need to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Statistically, Hoskins’ 2020 campaign was the best so far of his career, excluding his electric rookie season. Unfortunately, it ended prematurely. But before his elbow injury, he was on track to have the first season of his career where he actually put up better numbers in the second half than he did in the first. Maybe it’s the change in managers, or maybe there’s something else going on, but either way in 2021 Rhys Hoskins will continue the success he started to find last year and finally put together a complete season. That complete season will be what gives the Phillies the spark they need to break their playoff drought.
If that’s not enough, here’s another related prediction: Rhys Hoskins will finish in the top-ten in the National League in OBP.
The Smarty Jones
Rhys Hoskins will lead the National League in home runs. Thus far in his career, Hoskins has endured multiple lengthy slumps that have at times made us question whether or not he was permanently broken. I have a feeling that for one season at least, Hoskins will be able to avoid such a dry spell, and the result will be a league-leading total of dingers.
Maybe this is overly optimistic considering he started off the abbreviated 2020 in one of those horrific slumps. (After 17 games, he was batting .208 with zero home runs.) But he finished the season strong (before his injury ended it prematurely), and now that he’s another season removed from Gabe Kapler’s coaching staff, and presumably in the prime of his career, Hoskins seems primed to finally give the team a solid performance from start to finish.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, don’t be shocked when the bullpen leads the Phillies to a playoff berth. There’s no way around how abysmal the 2020 relief corps were, as their historically bad pitching single-handedly sank any postseason hopes in Philadelphia. But this is a different bullpen, constructed by different leadership, that displayed strong peripherals and a feisty attitude in Spring Training. Out with the Hembrees and Workmans, in with the Bradleys and Alvarados. We can expect these late-inning pitchers to be at least league average, which means that if the rest of the team has a season resembling 2020, the relievers can elevate the team to the postseason just by showing up and not turning every batter they face into Willie Mays. Besides, there’s no way that things can be as bad as last year, right?