The good feelings are flowing about your 2023 Phillies, and they’re not only emanating from Clearwater. In Miami, where the scintillating World Baseball Classic is being played, three of your favorite Phils stars, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner, are sparkling for Team USA, who is now just one win away from their second straight title.
Watching Turner hit three bombs over the weekend, one of them a go-ahead, 8th inning grand slam that set the world on fire...
...and then two in one game on Sunday...
It’s pretty cool that Turner’s first huge moment as a Phillie came before he’s actually ever played a regular season game with his new team.
There’s no doubt expectations are higher after last season’s miraculous run to the World Series and a very busy off-season that saw the Phillies soar past the luxury tax and sign Turner, Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel and swing a trade for Gregory Soto. Up-and-coming youngsters Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott all appear on the ascension, with a bullpen that looks like one of baseball’s best and a rotation led by four legitimate starters and a potentially ace-like No. 5 (when he’s healthy).
Yessir, the vibes remain good with just a couple weeks left before the regular season. As such, this year’s 10 bold predictions are going to be ridiculously optimistic. And lest you think they’re outlandish, check out my 10 bold overly optimistic predictions for the 2022 Eagles season and just how many of those turned out to be prescient!
Trea Turner Joins the 30/50 Club
Only two players in the entire history of the sport have hit 30+ homers and stole 50+ bases in the same season: Eric Davis in 1987 (37 HRs, 50 SBs) and Barry Bonds in 1990 (33 HRs, 52 SBs).
Turner will become the third.
Turner has hit five home runs this spring, with four of them on the huge WBC stage. Moving to Citizens Bank Park and hitting at the top of a lineup loaded with sluggers is only going to give Turner more fastballs to crank over the left field fence. Turner has never hit 30 home runs in a season before (28 in 2021 is his career high), but I think the odds are good he crosses that threshold this season.
There’s little doubt that if Turner does smash 30 dingers, he’ll become the third Phillie to join the 30/30 Club (Bobby Abreu 2x, Jimmy Rollins). As for 30/50, that’s a much bolder prediction. The closest a Phillie ever came was Juan Samuel in 1987, when he stole 53 bags but only slugged 19 homers. With larger bags and limited pitcher disengagements from the rubber encouraging more stolen base attempts, Turner could surpass his previous career high of 46 swipes and reach 50.
Phillies play 15 games over .500 without Harper
Building off of last year’s surge with their MVP on the bench, this year’s squad is better equipped to handle the absence of Harper. Although not expected back until around the All Star break, I predict he’ll be back by June 15 and that the Phillies will have played 15 games over .500 without him.
Last season, they went 32-20 without Harper. This year, with the addition of another superstar in Turner, a deeper starting rotation and a bullpen that could be one of the best in the league, they’re an extremely good team even without their biggest offensive force. They’ll do even better.
Nick Castellanos Doubles His Home Run Total
I’d be lying if I told you I felt overly confident that Castellanos was going to be his old self in 2023. While he’s had a few nice moments in Clearwater thus far, and spring numbers are largely to be ignored when possible, his .176 batting average and .715 OPS and 13 Ks in 34 ABs are a bit alarming. That said, he’s shown some power this spring, with two home runs hit to the opposite field and also eight walks thrown in the mix.
And let’s be honest, we should all be expecting Castellanos to hit 26 homers this year, given he averaged 27.5 per season over his last four non-pandemic seasons.
Andrew Painter Makes 15 Starts
Andrew Painter will not require Tommy John surgery. I’m speaking this reality into existence. Not only that, he’ll be called up in early July and make 15 starts for the Phils in the second half of the season, totaling around 130 innings at the big league level, right around the same number as Atlanta rookie Spencer Strider last year. Let’s also give him an ERA of 3.20, which will be like adding a No. 2 starter in a trade at the deadline.
Ranger Suarez is an All Star
One of the most impressive players during the Phils’ playoff run last year was Suarez, who came into one big situation after another and absolutely shoved. He began slowly, posting a 4.33 ERA and 4.26 FIP in his first 15 starts through June, but once the calendar hit July, he was off and running, with a 2.95 ERA and 3.45 FIP in his final 14 starts of the season. Couple that run with the insane 1.36 ERA he compiled in 106.0 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen in 2021 and you’ve got a 27-year-old southpaw ready to break out in 2023.
He’s going to be an All Star.
Scott Kingery gets 270+ MLB Plate Appearances
I think I may have been the one leading the charge for Kingery here this spring. After all, here’s a kid who was once seen as the brightest second base prospect in all of baseball, so good that Matt Klentak gave him a six-year Major League contract before he ever played a single game in the big leagues.
Fast forward six years and we all know how that has gone. That said, a now-healthy Kingery is killing the ball in spring training, and with the team needing a right-handed option who can play center field, Kingery fits that bill better than Dalton Guthrie. Kingery can also play all over the diamond, and he’s the final year of that big league deal, although he’d need to be added to the team’s 40-man roster.
Kingery’s OPS is .974 through Sunday’s games this spring, while Guthrie’s is .593. I think Jetpax makes the team out of Clearwater and accumulates at least 270 plate appearances in the big leagues this year.
Alec Bohm hits 30 dingers
You’ve seen the bombs from Bohm this spring.
Bohm has talked about how he bulked up this off-season and, with more confidence at the plate and in the field than ever, this is shaping up to be the season in which the talented third baseman finally realizes his full offensive potential.
Aaron Nola inks extension
How much will he get? Carlos Rodon gove a six-year, $162 million deal, Joe Musgrove signed for five years and $100 million, while Seattle’s Luis Castillo got $108 million over five years. In terms of fWAR, which has always loved Nola strikeout-to-walk ratio and low FIPs, he’s been on par with Max Scherzer over the last five years.
While I don’t think he’ll get Max money, my guess is the Phils and Nola agree on something in the neighborhood of five years and $140 million, averaging $28 million a season.
Phillies bullpen finished top-five in ERA
Something is going to wrong in the ‘pen this year. Every team has their hiccups, injuries, and bouts of ineffectiveness. One of the new guys they brought in won’t pan out, and we’ll almost certainly see some minor league guys ascend to the big leagues with varying degrees of effectiveness.
That said, this could be the deepest bullpen the team has ever had. Between Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto, the team has four legitimate closers to handle the later innings. And with young upside guys like free agent Matthew Strahm, Connor Brogdon and Andrew Bellatti soaking up innings, I like this ‘pen’s outlook enough to think they’ll be one of the five best units in MLB this season.
Phillies win the World Series
Come on, did you really think I was going to say anything else?