Phillies Playing Time Battles: Hitters

Guess what, we’re still evaluating playing time battles in preparation for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in this post. I already slogged through the Philadelphia Phillies pitchers, so let’s just hammer out the rest of their roster battles.

Outfield

There’s one thing we know (almost) for certain – Odubel Herrera will be the starting center fielder. Beyond that, we’re left with a lot of uncertainty. Phillies beat writers seem to think Peter Bourjos‘ name is penned into the lineup with ink. I’m not so sure.

Bourjos is an interesting rebound candidate. Entering his age 29 season, it’s not like he’s young. Health has torpedoed his last three seasons. His last seriously useful campaign was in 2012. If he’s back to 100 percent, he still has to prove two things to play regularly – can he hit, and is he still an elite defender?

On the subject of defense, he’ll be shifting to an outfield corner. If he’s not +20 runs as a left fielder, then it’s going to be hard to play his bat. For fantasy purposes, he doesn’t bring much to the table. In his prime, he had 10 home run power with 20 stolen base speed. Expect closer to five or 10 steals after three lost seasons. The power is probably still there, but without run production, swipes, or a plus average, it won’t really help fantasy owners.

For the moment, I’m alone on the Aaron Altherr bandwagon. I see a possible 20/20 threat who should hit somewhere in the middle of the Phillies lineup. That won’t translate to run production the same way it would in Chicago or Toronto, but he’ll do alright for himself. Don’t expect much of an average.

Like Bourjos, a starting job is Altherr’s to lose. There’s still plenty of risk that a bad Spring Training and/or a late free agency value signing could push him back to Triple-A.

As to the current competition for Bourjos and Altherr, his name is Tyler Goeddel. With respect to Darnell Sweeney and Cody Asche, I doubt they could win a regular role. For the second year in a row, the Phillies will give a Rule 5 pick a chance to win a starting job. It worked out well with Herrera.

Goeddel is coming off a strong platform year in Double-A. He has decent speed, but only one year of experience in the outfield. As such, expect the occasional misadventure as he continues to get used to reading the ball off the bat. At the plate, he has 10 home run, 30 stolen base upside in 2016. Obviously, expect a lot less. While his minor league plate discipline is solid, scouts keep talking about possible contact issues in the majors.

If he plays with regularity, I think he’ll be a better fantasy than real world player. I would look at him as a streaming option in all but the deepest leagues.

First Base

I think, ideally, the Phillies would bring in some kind of rebound candidate or young out-of-options player to muddy the waters at first base. At the moment, it’s a straightforward platoon between Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf.

Howard still can’t hit left-handed pitching. However, he remains decent against righties (.256/.304/.499, 115 wRC+). Ruf hasn’t really played enough to draw firm conclusions about his splits. They exist, and they appear to be large. Last year, he had a preposterous .371/.447/.660 line (201 wRC+) versus southpaws. Multiple sources have indicated that his work ethic is lacking – perhaps explaining why he’s never received a full time opportunity.

Middle Infield

Here’s another non-battle battle – at least initially. The season will start with Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez up the middle. Nothing short of a disaster (or injury) will change that. They’re both fine real world players with limited fantasy utility. Hernandez at least offers a strong stolen base total and may bat at the top of the lineup.

Phillies fans are already looking ahead to top prospect J.P. Crawford. He had a successful 405 plate appearance trial in Double-A, walking more than he struck out. There were some red flags – notably a lack of power, stolen bases, and a low-ish BABIP. If the club wants to, they can justify returning him to Double-A to start the year. If they do so, they’ll have an easy time of holding him in the minors until early 2017.

Fantasy analysts are getting ahead of themselves when they start looking forward to Crawford. Unless Philadelphia is a surprise contender this year, they have every incentive to keep Crawford in the minors until after the start of the 2017 season.

Catcher

Carlos Ruiz finally lost the starting job last season to Cameron Rupp. Sometimes, when old, former starting catchers shift into a part time role, they have a (short-lived) renaissance at the plate. Perhaps Ruiz can be a valuable Sunday catcher for those who stream.

Rupp does an important job for the Phillies, but he’s also just a placeholder. As a fantasy player, his best attribute is middling power. He could pop more than 10 home runs in a full season. He’ll bat down in the Phillies order and carries a high strikeout rate. In other words fantasy owners, he’s an emergency catcher only.

Waiting in the wings are two guys who could be fantasy relevant. Jorge Alfaro, if he sticks at the position, has 20 to 30 home run power. He needs to do a better job at staying on the field so he can improve defensively and at the plate. In particular, he may not make enough contact to regularly access his power.

The other name to watch is Andrew Knapp. He came out of nowhere to post a ridiculous second half in Double-A. Expect offensive regression this season. His bat is ahead of his glove. Neither Alfaro nor Knapp are likely to challenge for playing time this year. But they’re worth mentioning.





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CC AFCmember
6 years ago

Guess I’ll just make myself comfortable on the passenger seat of the Altherr bandwagon if there’s no one else here yet…

Luke
6 years ago
Reply to  CC AFC

I’ll hop in the backseat then before it gets too crowded.