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2023 season preview: outfielder to watch

With no MV3 for the foreseeable future, the big bats in the outfield will step up

2022 World Series Game 1: Philadelphia Phillies v. Houston Astros Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

While it’s easy to glance at the Phillies outfield and eyeball Kyle Schwarber as THE guy to watch for 2023, there’s another slugger who may just shoulder the load in the front half of the season.

Nick Castellanos’s first season in Philadelphia was underwhelming to say the least. For months, fans waited for the former Red to break through from a sustained slump and surge back to his All Star caliber play. It never happened, even in the playoffs.

Casty did make a plethora of defensive plays and elevated his glove during the 2022 Postseason. However, the bat just never came around.

2021 stats w CIN: .309/.362/.576, 34 HR, 100 RBI, 20.7 K%, 7.0 BB%, .267 ISO, 139 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR

2022 stats w PHI: .263/.305/.389, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 23.3 K%, 5.2 BB%, .126 ISO, 94 wRC+, -0.7 fWAR

Clearly a big drop off and not what the Phils were expecting when they inked him to a five-year, $100 million contract. The steep decline in his power production is the most concerning attribute, as the minor uptick in strikeouts, and decrease in walk rate isn’t overly worrying.

His hard hit percentage also dropped from 46.9% in 2021, to 35.1% in 2022. Another significant decline. Barreling up the baseball was as difficult as ever for Castellanos as he displayed a career low 6.6 barrel percentage.

So entering 2023, why is he the guy to watch?

Kyle Schwarber established himself as a top 10 left fielder last season, certainly someone to keep an eye on. His 46 HRs led the National League and helped carry the offense to the playoffs. With no Harper, Schwarber may still have a similar season and help the team remain competitive, but if Castellanos can return to 2021 form, this team will be dangerous,

He’s talked in detail about the struggles of the 2022 season, and mentioned to the media that he needs to “simplify” his approach for 2023. We saw a flash of this change with an opposite field home run a couple weeks back, something he did just twice in 2022.

His defensive may improve too as Castellanos himself said it was better in the playoffs as he was more locked in on every pitch, With the new pitch clock, he’ll have to be locked in more during the regular season as well.

As he works through Spring Training, he’ll be the guy to keep your eye on, as he is the X factor for the 2023 Phillies.