clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Who will lead the Phillies in hitting next season?

New, comments

Bryce Harper and Jean Segura are the most likely candidates, but there are some other intriguing options to consider, from Nick Castellanos to Alec Bohm.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
Bryce Harper and Jean Segura fight over who will have a higher batting average in 2022.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As a team, the Phillies hit .240 in 2021, good for ninth place in the National League.

That’s not particularly inspiring. However, the Phillies did have two qualifying hitters finish in the top 15 in the league in batting average: Bryce Harper (.309) and Jean Segura (.290). It was the first time the Phillies have done that since Placido Polanco (.298) and Jayson Werth (.296) finished twelfth and fourteenth in 2010.

The Phillies were also one of only two NL teams to have two qualifying players hit .290 or better (the Braves were the other team, thanks to the bats of Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley).

Of the eight NL batters who hit over .300 last year, one was obviously Bryce Harper, and two more were linked to the Phillies before the lockout – Nick Castellanos (.309) and Bryan Reynolds (.302).

In the grand scheme of things, these aren’t particularly important stats. “Top 15” is an arbitrary cut-off point, as is hitting .290 or .300. Batting average itself is considered less important these days, as more and more people prefer to look at on-base percentage instead.

Nevertheless, I got to thinking about who might be the Phillies leading hitter in 2022. I put out a Twitter poll asking this exact question, and the response was quite divided.

I was a little surprised that Jean Segura didn’t get more support, but I was most interested in the fact that almost 30% of people chose someone other than Harper or Segura. The Phillies don’t have many other high-average hitters on the roster (J.T. Realmuto has hit .269 in his Phillies career, while Rhys Hoskins has hit just .241), and most of the outside players the Phillies have been linked to aren’t strong average hitters either (Kyle Schwarber is a career .237 hitter, while Kevin Kiermaier is a career .249 hitter).

So, I decided to take a quick look at the players who have a chance to lead the team in hitting next season. Three of them are already on the roster (Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and dark horse Alec Bohm) and three of them are players the Phillies could look to add when the lockout ends (Kris Bryant, Bryan Reynolds, and Nick Castellanos).

I chose to look at six stats that can, collectively, give us a pretty good sense of what to expect from each player in 2022: actual 2021 batting average, 2021 Statcast expected batting average, career batting average, batting average over the past three seasons, and projected 2022 batting average from the Steamer and ZiPS projection systems. The table is color-coded such that red means the player is first in that category among these six players, orange indicates that he is second, and yellow indicates that he is third.

Bryce Harper

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.309 0.301 0.279 0.281 0.269 0.272

The case for Bryce Harper is built on recency and track record, and the case against him is all about consistency. He had the highest BA of this group in 2021 (beating Castellanos by a hair) and the highest expected batting average. His expected batting average in 2020 was also above .300.

Harper has hit above .300 in three different seasons (2015, 2017, 2021), and so he certainly has the ability to do so again. However, from 2018 to 2020, he hit just .257. He’s hit below .270 four times in his career. So while Harper has the highest ceiling amongst this group, he hasn’t proven that he can reach that ceiling on a consistent basis, which is why the projection systems estimate that he’ll hit around .270 in 2022.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jean Segura

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.290 0.265 0.285 0.282 0.280 0.282

Jean Segura hasn’t hit below .280 in a full season since 2015. He hit over .300 in three straight seasons from 2016 to 2018. His career .285 batting average ranks second among the above sixsome, behind only Bryan Reynolds (who has played about 900 fewer games than Segura).

The Statcast expected statistics aren’t so kind to Jean, but it’s worth noting that Segura has outperformed his xBA in every single season since Statcast data first became available in 2015. In that time span, his actual batting average is .291, while his xBA is just .262.

Steamer and ZiPS both project him to hit about .280, similar to what he has done over the last three seasons with the Phils. In my estimation, Segura has a lower ceiling than Harper, but also a higher floor (when it comes to batting average, that is).

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Bohm

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.247 0.264 0.274 0.274 0.263 0.262

Alec Bohm is a bit of a long shot here, but he’s the only other player currently on the Phillies roster who has a serious chance to lead the team in batting average. Didi Gregorius led the team in 2020 with a .284 average, but he’s a career .259 hitter and he hit just .209 last season. Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto aren’t high average hitters, and Bryson Stott is too much of an unknown. Matt Vierling probably won’t get enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, nor will Rafael Marchan, Nick Maton, or Mickey Moniak.

Thus, we’re left with Alec Bohm.

Bohm hit .344 with a .292 xBA in 2020. He struggled in 2021, hitting just .247 with a .264 xBA. However, he did turn things around after a rough start, hitting .293 in 208 PA from June 1 through the end of the season.

Bohm is still young and inexperienced and he has yet to prove that he can be a reliable offensive contributor. That being said, he has certainly shown that he has the potential to be the best contact hitter on the team.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Bryant

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.265 0.260 0.278 0.266 0.251 0.261

Kris Bryant’s name came up a few times in response to my Twitter poll, so I decided to include him in this exercise, but truthfully, he’s not a particularly strong candidate. From 2016 to 2017 he hit .293. Since then, however, he’s hit .268.

I also don’t think it’s very likely that he joins the Phillies. Based on the size of contract that Bryant is projected to sign, I see Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, and Michael Conforto as more likely options.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Reynolds

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.302 0.293 0.290 0.290 0.278 0.280

Bryan Reynolds would be a great fit for the Phillies, and I wrote about why last week. One reason he make so much sense is that he can hit at the top of the order and get on base in front of Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins.

Reynolds has hit at least .300 with an xBA of at least .290 in both of his full seasons (2019 and 2021). He struggled mightily in 2020, but based on his 2019 and 2021 seasons, those 208 PA in the pandemic-shortened season seem like a fluke.

If Bryan Reynolds joins the Phillies, he would immediately become my top bet to lead the team in batting average. Unfortunately, that’s a huge “if”. It won’t be easy to trade for Reynolds, and if the Pirates don’t get an offer that blows them out of the water, they’d be smart to just hang on to their All-Star center fielder.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Castellanos

2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
2021 BA 2021 xBA Career BA 2019-2021 BA 2022 Steamer BA 2022 ZiPS BA
0.309 0.293 0.278 0.287 0.269 0.287

It’s quite possible that Nick Castellanos will join the Philadelphia Phillies in 2022, and if he does, it’s quite possible that he leads the team in batting average.

He wasn’t always a high batting average type of player. From 2013 to 2017, he hit just .267 in 2304 PA. Then, in 2018 he hit .298 and from 2018 to 2021 he hit .290.

Castellanos has a bigger difference between his Steamer projection and his ZiPS projection than anyone else on this list. Seemingly, ZiPS is placing more emphasis on his recent performance, while Steamer is placing more emphasis on his career numbers.

Since 2018, Castellanos has been one of the better contact hitters in the game, so I’m inclined to trust ZiPS more than Steamer on this one.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Jean Segura to lead the Phillies in hitting next season. He’s actually on the team — unlike Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, and Bryan Reynolds — and he’s proven himself to be a much more consistent hitter than either Bryce Harper or Alec Bohm. That being said, if either Reynolds or Castellanos does join the Phillies, my bet would change to one of them.

You can place your own bet in the poll, and, of course, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Who will lead the Phillies in batting average in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Alec Bohm
    (26 votes)
  • 29%
    Jean Segura
    (55 votes)
  • 30%
    Bryce Harper
    (57 votes)
  • 4%
    Someone else currently on the roster
    (8 votes)
  • 20%
    A new acquisition
    (38 votes)
184 votes total Vote Now