Get ready for a lot of high-scoring games in 2022 because this Phillies team is designed to both score and give up a lot of runs.
As The Good Phight previews the upcoming Phillies season, it’s great to see that the team has made many positive upgrades, notably in the lineup. The additions of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to an offense that already boasted Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins, have given the Phillies one of the most fearsome lineups in the game right now. In 2021, those five players combined for 145 home runs and 399 RBI. The additions of Schwarber and Castellanos to the lineup are especially important because the Phillies are going to need to score as many runs as possible this season if they want to win games.
To say that the Phillies defense is “below average” would be putting it kindly. Last season, the Phillies put up an impressive -54 Defensive Runs Saved, last in all of Major League Baseball. And the players they added this offseason, while a major boost to the offense, do little to nothing to improve the other side of the game. As Scott Lauber pointed out last June, history shows that teams that play terrible defense don’t usually make the playoffs.
This is, without a doubt, the major concern for this Phillies team. It’s a pretty simple concept: Errors mean baserunners; Baserunners mean more potential for runs to be scored; More runs scored means the Phillies have a higher chance of losing the game; Losing too many games means no playoffs for the eleventh year in a row.
The best part about the addition of the DH in the NL this season is that the Phillies can keep all of their offensive talent in the lineup without having to make as many concessions in the field. Here’s how the expected field stacks up:
Catcher - J.T. Realmuto, Rafael Marchan, Garrett Stubbs
Realmuto, the 2019 Gold Glove winner, is one of the few concerns for this defensive lineup. The issue will be who takes over when Realmuto gets a day off. Marchan is known for his defensive prowess, though he’s certainly not Realmuto. Stubbs, however, has little MLB experience to go off of and isn’t to Marchan’s defensive level.
First Base - Rhys Hoskins
The Phillies have certainly had worse defensive first basemen in franchise history, but don’t expect Hoskins to be in the running for a Gold Glove any time soon. On a good note, his .995 fielding percentage in 103 games in 2021 was the second-highest of his career, which is promising.
Second Base - Jean Segura
When Segura is playing well, he can be one of the better defensive second basemen in MLB. However, his tendency to make a lot of errors in clusters leaves second base in a perpetual state of “what’s going to happen?”
Third Base - Alec Bohm
Bohm’s defense is definitely not what made him the Phillies’ former #1 prospect. As one of the league’s worst defensive players in 2021, the silver lining is that he can only improve from here... right?
Shortstop - Didi Gregorius
Gregorius was one of the worst shortstops in baseball in 2021 according to various metrics. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the silver lining is that he can only improve from here... right?
Left Field - Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber
Where Castellanos and Schwarber are both major improvements over their predecessor offensively, at best they’re on par with the defensive shoes they have to fill and that’s not a complement.
Center Field - Matt Vierling, Odubel Herrera, Mickey Moniak
Even with multiple options for the center field position, the best the Phillies can hope for here is a serviceable player or platoon that doesn’t make too many errors that cost them games.
Right Field - Bryce Harper
Harper was a Gold Glove finalist in 2019, and you don’t win an MVP award if you’re terrible in the field. Harper himself isn’t an issue, it’s when he’s given a day off from the field that will be a concern.
Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t seem too concerned with what most people would consider a glaring issue. In fact, he told Todd Zolecki the answer is simple: “Secure the baseball.” He’s right, the answer is simple. But can the Phillies simply secure the baseball more than they did last season? Only time will tell. The good news is that if they don’t, the Phillies have the offensive talent to come out on top of their share of games that end in a 16-15 score.