Martin's Reasons to be optimistic about the Phillies - January 2023 edition..

I think the common forecasting error being made with the Phillies is thus:

- take the 87 win team and add Trea Turner

- figure that all the chances that we're taking in the bullpen will work out similarly to all the chances we took last season, some will improve, some decline

- Castellanos may bounce back but Schwarber & Realmuto are bound to decline

- Wheeler & Nola are bound to decline some, Suarez might improve

- Walker & Falter/Painter washes with Gibson & Eflin .. if we're lucky

- Harper was out two months last year - he'll be out three months this year - that's not great

The result is pretty much 87 wins plus Trea Turner or low 90-something wins. The Phillies - not in the same class as the Mets and maybe not the Braves might get in on a wild card and then try to work some magic two years in a row to advance.

What this type of methadology is not appreciating is that the Phillies were not an 87 win team the whole season that slipped into the playoffs and had some miracle star alignment to get into the World Series.

The Phillies were a team that in spite of adding Castellanos & Schwarber tanked hard until May 31st (21-29).. and this happened BEFORE:

- Castellanos started sucking (was it that May 5th HBP?)

- They changed managers (June 3rd) (Joe Girardi: 22-29 to Rob Thomson: 65-46)

- Segura was injured and they had to work through Stott's issues (which paid off)

- Harper was injured and they played a rookie (who couldn't hit LHP) at DH for two months

- Eflin & Wheeler were injured

- they dumped some deadwood in Herrera & Gregorius and replaced them with young players

- they acquired not just band-aids Syndergaard & Robertson at the trade deadline, but strategic players Marsh & Sosa (and Marsh was out of the lineup and they had to come up with Zimmer)

- they had a simply more-than-usual challenging schedule - playing very tough opponents and many, many tough games on the road...

- Familia before June 1st: IP 19 WHIP 1.47 FIP 4.53 after June 1st IP 25.1 WHIP 2.05 FIP 5.24

And yet they rose through all of this playing 66-46 ball from June 1st forward in spite of all of these challenges. If they'd played that way and with the October team from the start of the season they would have finished 95-67 even with all of those challenges.

And then they hardly slipped through the playoffs, they clobbered teams, going 9-2 to get into the World Series against some very tough teams including taking the sports media fav Padres down 4-1.

The pundits should be adding Trea Turner to that team - the team that is bound to face fewer challenges, the team that rose through everything, the one that took down NL playoff teams 9-2.

That's a 100+ win team... And if they have even half of the challenges of 2022 (a normal level of misfortune for MLB teams) in 2021 they could win the division.

Although it's easy to say that Realmuto & Schwarber, or Nola & Wheeler are bound to decline from what seemed to be career (or at least great) years

- Schwarber is the 2nd hitter in the MLB most likely to benefit from the shift ban. Even if Schwarber's homers decline, he could hit more gap singles and doubles

- Realmuto's stolen base game could improve from the SB rule changes. Even if Realmuto's OPS declines he could terrorize opposing pitchers on the basepaths

- and though Nola had a great year - this is his contract/FA year. Wheeler's and Suarez' years as good as they were, were not as good as the prior year - they could bounce back some...

Many of the players that the Phillies acquired - didn't have big years last year, we didn't "buy high" in all cases:

- Trea Turner had his weakest year for OPS since 2017

- Gregory Soto's walk rate was done, but his WHIP & FIP were up from the prev. 2 years

- Kimbrel had a good year with LA & better than his bad year with the White Sox, but not like his great Cubs years

Some of these players could improve - it's not appropriate to say everyone who played above career will decline to the mean while everyone who played below career is probably in decline and done for,

that's just whining.

Also developmental things happened in 2022 that will benefit us this year

- Stott became an MLB player and is forecasted to replace Segura's stats entirely

Segura Career/10 PA 561 HR 11 OPS .724 wRC+ 98 WAR 2.52 (Segura has 10 seasons)

Segura 2022 PA 387 HR 10 OPS .723 wRC+ 107 WAR 2.8

Stott 2023 FG PA 504 HR 13 OPS .723 wRC+103 WAR 2.5 (nearly identical numbers)

and of course Stott is a lot cheaper and may actually be better defensively...

- Similarly Alvarado and Bellatti became major league relievers last year and that was a process and you could say this also applies to Falter & Brogdon (though less dramatically)

- Marsh & Sosa both performed much better as Phillies than they did before coming here

Marsh Career (bef PHI) PA 583 OPS .653 2022/LAA PA 323 OPS .637 PHI PA 138 .773

Sosa Career (bef PHI) PA 470 OPS .668 2022/Stl PA 131 OPS .515 PHI PA 59 .937

can they maintain this improvement? One or the other probably...

- Hoskins improved his defense.. going from the 2nd worst 1st base defender to the 11th & definitely mediocre. The Phillies will start this season with improved defense at 1st, 2nd, short, & center field compared to opening day last year.

As for the bullpen, it's easy to cast Kimbrel as Knebel and Soto as Familia, and Strahm as Hand and say that all of these chances will probably work out the same. And we could argue their merits compared to those "fixes" from last year that didn't stick. But this isn't recognizing that the bullpen's improvement (Alvarado, Bellatti, Brogdon) in 2022 over 2021 - there is a better base to build on. And Thomson seems to handle bullpens better than Girardi did.

The Phillies are a year closer to benefitting from what even non-fans consider a treasure trove of minor league pitching talent in Painter, Abels, & McGarry who will likely all be major league talents and one may be All-star level talent. At least one may be a factor this year, two next year, etc..

Maybe as important, the Phillies leadership has improved - it's not just Harper, Schwarber has become a team leader. It's not just the on field improvement from Girardi to Thomson - but Dombrowski & Feld have been around long enough now we are seeing their true value - and it's impressive. And the changes in player scouting & development may be starting to show too.

As for the baseball intelligensia and their opinion that you take the 87 win Phillies and add Trea Turner for a 92 win team? I'm okay with that.. let them misunderestimate us - that's just where dawg Philly teams want to be....