Last year’s Phillies season started off with a bang, sweeping the past division champs, the Braves, in three games to start off the regular season had fans smelling October baseball in late March. After a solid start to the season things went South in a West Coast game against the Padres when Andrew McCutchen, who was on pace to be participating in the summer classic, tore his ACL while in a rundown. For the rest of the season Gabe Kapler had a hard time replacing Mccutchen in the lead off role and the entire Phillies offense never seemed to click. The starting pitching, excluding Nola, was very lackluster and the injured bullpen could not pick up the slack of the struggling starters. The 2019 Phillies were the definition of mediocre and it is fitting the team finished the regular season in 4th place with an 81-81 record. Though there were bright spots with the 2019 Phillies such as the development of Scott Kingery as a hitter and Adam Haseley getting some much needed major league experience, so it is safe to feel very optimistic about the 2020 Phillies who are now run by 2009 World Series Champion manager Joe Girardi. With Spring Training now under way lets take a look at an early lineup and 2020 season statistics projections.
Projected Starting Lineup
Andrew McCutchen, Left Field
When the Phillies decided to sign Andrew McCutchen to a three-year $50 million deal after the 2018 season fans were a little concerned at which direction this Phillies team was going. McCutchen was clearly not playing at his MVP 2013 season level and it was unclear if he would return to the star he once was. He answered the Phillies fans questions pretty quickly when he led off the bottom of the first on opening day with a no doubt homer to left center field. McCutchen day in and day out provided this team with energy and leadership on the field and off. In 59 games in 2019 he batted .256 while smacking 10 homeruns, knocking in 29 runs and posting an elite on base percentage at .378. After suffering a torn ACL, he might not be 100% by opening day but I fully expect McCutchen to be an x-factor for this Phillies offense.
Projections: BA. .260/19HR/64RBI/.355OBP
Jean Segura, 2B, 3B?
Jean Segura was the Phillies everyday shortstop in 2019. After trading prospect J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana in a 3 team trade the Phillies acquired Segura from the Seattle Mariners to be their everyday shortstop. Like many others in the Phillies lineup, Segura struggled after the injury to McCutchen. Kapler changed the lineup frequently and Jean could never get comfortable as he had his worst offensive season in 4 years. Jean will have a different position this year after the acquisition of Didi Gregorius, and all signs point to Jean being the everyday second baseman. Last season Segura batted .280, scored 79 runs, hit 12 homeruns and knocked in 60 runs. If Jean can get back to hitting over .300 he could provide much needed runners on base for Harper and Hoskins to knock in many runs for the Phillies
Bryce Harper, Right Field
After a slow start to his career in Philly, Harper showed us in the second half the superstar he truly is. Harper made a struggling Phillies team a must watch last summer with his titanic blasts and his overall gamer mindset. Although some Phillies fans believe Bryce underachieved year one, his stats were still pretty elite after a lackluster first half. Bryce ended the season batting .260, hitting 35 homeruns and knocking in 114 runs. He also scored 98 runs and stole 15 bases for the club in 2019. A big knock on Bryce entering the 2019 season was his lack of defensive ability, but he showed off his arm on a daily basis and was a rock in right field for this Phillies defense. I truly believe there is no reason why Bryce cant finish in the top 5 in MVP voting this season and hopefully carry the Phillies to October Baseball for the first time since the 2011 season.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B
Predicting the 2020 season for Rhys Hoskins is probably the most difficult task in this article. After a strong first half of the season, Rhys had a disastrous second half. A positive to take away from his stat line in 2019 was while only batting .226 he still posted an on base percentage of .364. Rhys has one of, if not the best, eye in the game as he led the league in walks with 116. With his discipline at the plate to go along with his raw power, I believe Rhys is bound to have a huge year batting cleanup for the Phillies. Rhys is also experimenting with dropping his hands to potentially create more backspin when driving the ball. He hit 29 homers and knocked in 85 runs in 2019. 2020 is Rhys Hoskins’ year, he will be an All-Star
J.T. Realmuto, Catcher
Realmuto was the Phillies lone All-Star in 2019 and was flashing offense and defense on a daily basis. Baseball fans learned last year that you do not try to steal on Realmuto, it will end very badly for you. J.T. stayed consistent throughout the season, he was a rock for the Phillies pitching staff and never seemed to enter a slump at the plate. The Phillies need to do everything they can to resign JT long-term. Last year he batted .275 while hitting 25 homeruns and knocking in 83 runs. He also scored 92 runs. I fully expect to see J.T. back in the All-Star game this summer and being day in and day out the best catcher in baseball.
Didi Gregorius, Shortstop
Joe Girardi went out and grabbed one of his guys when Gregorious was inked to a one-year $14 million contract to be the Phillies everyday shortstop in 2020. I loved this move by the Phillies front office for two reasons: He played for Girardi which should make him comfortable from day one and Didi was chasing championships with the Yankees the past few seasons, so he knows what it takes to play October baseball. In 82 games last season, Didi batted .238, hitting 16 homers and knocking in 61 in a stacked Yankees lineup. He plays elite defense and that’s exactly what you need from your everyday shortstop, he will also provide much needed power in the middle of our lineup.
Projections. .262BA/26HR/70RBI/65R/Gold Glove
Scott Kingery ,3B, 2B, CF
Right now the plan is for Scott Kingery to be the everyday third baseman in 2020. I think Kingery is better suited to play second as he struggled at times at third while replacing a struggling Maikel Franco. Kingery’s starting position will reflect whether Adam Haseley has success as the everyday center fielder, or if Segura struggles, he could find himself at either one of those positions. Also, we await top third base prospect Alec Bohm in the minors who should get his first major league action this season. Kingery moved all over the field last season, so I would not be surprised to see him have a similar role in 2019. Kingery spent some time on the injured list at the beginning of last season but ended up having a solid offensive season. Kingery batted .258 while pumping out 19 homeruns and knocking in 55 runs. It will be interesting to see if Scott can develop into a star player in this league, he has all the tools to do so.
Adam Haseley, Center Field
Haseley should start the season as the everyday center fielder. In 2019 when he got called up after the injury to McCutchen, he showed flashes of why he was a top-10 pick in his draft class. He seems to be an above average defender with web gem catching ability. The question marks remain at the plate; he is a strong swinger and has a decent approach at the plate. I think it is safe to say he might have some growing pains at the plate this season, but I believe he has the tools to be an everyday starter. If he struggles early on in the season, it’s possible McCutchen is moved to center to get the veteran bat of Jay Bruce into the lineup. If the speedy Roman Quinn can stay healthy, he could potential push Haseley for the starting job as well. Haseley batted .266 in 2019, hitting 5 homers and 26 RBIs in 222 at bats. I do think he will rotate at times to get Bruce in the lineup, expect him to get at least 400 at bats this season.
The Phillies offense is going to have to pick up the slack of the pitching staff even with the addition of Zach Wheeler and a healthy Jake Arrieta. The front office is banking on the young relievers we have to take the next step, as they did not address the bullpen at all other then league minimum deals to potential bounce back candidates. So if the Phillies want to be alive in October, they are going to need to slug their way there. This may also be the season we see top prospects Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard in the big leagues. If they come in and are the talents they should be, the Phillies will have a solid balance of seasoned veterans and young studs. 2020 could be a very fun watch in South Philly.
Projected record: 85-77 3rd NL East