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The Phillies need more from their “Big 5” if they want to win the wild card

No trade deadline acquisition will do as much as the stars playing like stars.

Philadelphia Phillies v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Thank goodness the Phillies pulled out that 8-5 win over the Guardians on Sunday.

The streaky Phils broke bad in their last two series against Milwaukee and Cleveland over the last week, two eminently beatable teams in weak divisions that took four out of six from the Phillies, mostly due to the offense’s continued inability to hit consistently. And while that Sunday win prevented their weekend in Ohio from being a complete disaster, the team’s offensive faults have been on full display over the last week.

Sometimes, a Corbin Burnes is going to come along and own you. No shame in that. There is shame in getting shut down by the likes of Colin Rea, Gavin Williams and a Cleveland bullpen game on Sunday that, for much of the day, made Philly bats look inept.

With the trade deadline just over a week away, team president Dave Dombrowski is no doubt texting like his fingers are on fire, trying to add a right-handed hitting corner outfielder to an offense that has been very good about 30% of the time and maddening about 70%. Cody Bellinger, Tommy Pham, Brent Rooker, Hunter Renfroe and others are viable options that would give the Phils more than they’re getting from Jake Cave at the moment, but none of them, not even Bellinger, will be as impactful as the Phillies’ “Big 5” figuring out how to fix what is ailing them.

The Phillies are simply not getting enough out of Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto at the moment. Castellanos’ slump can be excused a bit, given he was so consistent for the season’s first three months, and Harper’s overall numbers are decent, especially when one considers he’s starting a brand new defensive position for the first time in his career and returned two months early from Tommy John surgery.

Unfortunately, the Phils cannot afford for Castellanos’ slump to continue much longer, and they cannot have Harper’s power drought go on, given the lack of production from the other members of the “Big 5.” Manager Rob Thomson admitted as much after the team’s 1-0 loss to the Guardians on Saturday.

Coming into Monday’s series against Baltimore, the July numbers have been lackluster-to-awful.

  • Schwarber: .190/.253/.418, wRC+ 76, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs, 29.9% K-rate
  • Turner: .247/.293/.416, wRC+ 89, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 26.8% K-rate
  • Castellanos: .173/.195/.260, wRC+ 43, 4 HRs, 9 RBIs, 32.5% K-rate
  • Harper: .311/.391/.459, wRC+ 134, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 21.7% K-rate
  • Realmuto: 246/.302/.491, wRC+ 109, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs, 26.6% K-rate

Since May 19, Realmuto is hitting .198, with a .281 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage. Castellanos is striking out in 32.5% of his plate appearances this month and walking in just 1.3% of them. Pitchers are throwing sliders his way more often in July, 41.6% of the time, up from 37.7% in June, 36.7% in May and 35.9% in April. While Harper did break his homerless drought last week, he has just four in 66 games this season. He’s their cleanup hitter. Schwarber’s overall OPS+ of 102 makes him just barely above league average offensively, and his .311 OBP is not good enough for a leadoff hitter.

Perhaps the scariest numbers of all come from Turner, who has not been the offensive upgrade from Jean Segura the team thought they’d be getting. Last year, Segura played 98 games for the Phillies, missing a big chunk of the season due to injury. Turner has played 98 games this season.

  • Turner (2023): .249/.301/.390, .692 OPS, OPS+ 89, 1.3 WAR
  • Segura (2022): .277/.336/.387, .723 OPS, OPS+ 106, 1.8 WAR

Now, this is not to argue that the Phillies should have kept Segura over Turner, because as disappointing as Turner has been in his inaugural year in red and white pinstripes, Segura has been one of baseball’s worst players, with a -1.4 WAR for Miami. But it does paint a picture. The Phillies got more production from Jean Segura last year in 98 games than they’ve gotten from Turner in 98 games this season.

That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Most of the “Big 5” have also struggled to hit with runners in scoring position all season long.

  • Schwarber: .838 OPS, 25.7% K-rate
  • Castellanos: 756 OPS, 30.6% K-rate
  • Turner: .671 OPS, 27.4% K-rate
  • Harper: .627 OPS, 24.0% K-rate
  • Realmuto: .573 OPS, 20.6% K-rate

The Day Care has more than held up their end of things, by the way. Brandon Marsh... BRANDON MARSH... leads the team in OPS, the only player on the team over .800, and Stott is third.

  • Marsh (.814)
  • Harper (.789)
  • Castellanos (.787)
  • Stott (.783)
  • Realmuto (.760)
  • Schwarber (.743)
  • Bohm (.734)
  • Turner (.692)

By comparison, the Phils’ opponents this week, the Orioles, have five of their everyday starters with an OPS over .800, and a sixth, super stud catcher Adley Rutschman, is at .797.

And while Bohm is 6th out of the 7 players listed above, he is the team’s best hitter (.340 AVG, .860 OPS) with RISP, and leads the team in RBIs. Marsh’s .800 OPS with RISP is 3rd. Stott isn’t hitting for power, but has a team-best .304 average and a .348 OBP, with a wRC+ 111 and a team-high 2.5 fWAR. Marsh’s 2.1 is 2nd-best.

The Phillies signed their “Big 5” free agent stars to be the heartbeat of the offense, but that heartbeat has often been irregular. Getting another bat for the lineup will help, but nothing’s going to change until the “Big 5” get their act together.