Monday Morning Roundtable: Midseason Awards

The first (or really the pre-All Star break) half of the season is in the books and the Phillies are bad. This week I asked the writers to give away some positive awards, because we all really don’t want to dwell on Michael Saunders’ Phillies tenure.

First Half MVP:

Adam: My MVP is Aaron Altherr. I’m sure I’m not the only one on board that rocket, and for good reason. We have ample evidence now that this is the player Altherr truly is, and not the withered husk still recovering from injury in 2016. In 2015 and 2017, Altherr has posted very fine wRC+ of 125 and 124. 

Tim: Aaron Altherr. I wanted to pick Galvis. But Altherr is their best everyday player. For all the disappointments this season, he is the only one in the lineup to provide any long-term promise.

Brad:  I’d suspect anyone in the Phils clubhouse would say the team would be literally stabbing each other with broken maple bat shards covered in tears if not for Freddy Galvis. Still: Aaron Altherr has to be the MVP, just based on offensive output alone. The lineup can’t survive without a couple consistent guys, as we have seen for long stretches this year, and Altherr has been the most consistently productive.

Matt: It is Aaron Altherr, and I am not sure it is particularly close. The advanced metrics hate his glove, which doesn’t entirely match the eye test. What does match the eye test is a .284/.356/.530 batting line that has withstood some pretty hard slumps to still be the best thing the Phillies have consistently had in their lineup.

First Half Cy Young:

Adam: Cy Young is another slam dunk for me, and it’s Aaron Nola. Since returning from injury, he’s been fantastic, albeit with a few clunkers here and there. If Nola can continue pitching this way, he’ll be the #2 pitcher we all dreamed on.

Tim: Aaron Nola. The pick was Neshek a few weeks ago. Neshek has been stellar. But Nola is once again throwing like a top-of-rotation arm.

Brad: Pat Neshek may be the all-star, but Aaron Nola’s finally back on track. With Eickhoff unable to buy a win, Velazquez down for a long stretch now, and starts on and off from at least two guys who many consider “depth”, Nola has  been the anchor for most of the year.

Matt: We entered the year worried about Nola’s durability, and an early stint on DL for back problems sure didn’t help allay those concerns. While Pat Neshek is the Phillies’ All-Star, Nola has put up a 2.61 ERA in June and July, while averaging nearly 7 innings a start, which has stabilized the Phillies’ rotation. His velocity is up and he has become a more complete pitcher.

Rookie of the Year:

Adam: My Rookie award goes to Andrew Knapp and Nick Pivetta (I know it’s a copout, but I’m allowed). Knapp has been a serviceable backup with good on-base skills. Pivetta has shown the ability to get through the order two times, and recently has picked it up to the point where he’s reaching the 7th and striking out close to a batter per inning.

Tim: Ben Lively. The strikeouts still aren’t there. But he’s kept the ball in the park at a time when they’re flying out at a historic rate. By results, no Phillies rookie has been better.

Brad: I think Andrew Knapp is the guy. I guess Ben Lively could manage to work his way around the league the rest of the year without imploding, and maybe that would put him ahead. For now, though, Knapp is both decent and useful, as Cameron Rupp has generally been, for lack of a better term, “a giant bite of shite” thus far.

Matt: I want to give it to Nick Pivetta because he has had the most dominant flashes, but his season numbers aren’t great. Ben Lively has a solid ERA, but a 3.6 K/9 in 42.2 innings. I have to go with Andrew Knapp then. He is striking out a ton, but walking a decent rate this has given him a .250/.355/.383 stat, despite a .346 BABIP. Cameron Rupp has been a disaster and Knapp has allowed the Phillies to get something from the catcher position.

Prospect of the Year:

Adam: Prospect of the year is Rhys Hoskins on performance alone, but I’m still bullish on J.P. Crawford from a skills standpoint and am confident he will be the player we think he can be. As much as I appreciate what Tommy Joseph has done, I hope he’s traded so we can see Hoskins sooner rather than later.

Tim: Rhys Hoskins. Sixto Sanchez has the sky-high ceiling. Scott Kingery took a big leap forward. But Hoskins just keeps hitting, and now he’s forcing the Phillies’ hand. When was the last time that happened?

Brad: Whoever had Scott Kingery as “guy everyone would be most clamoring for” over power hitters Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens and highly regarded prospects JP Crawford and Jorge Alfaro, claim your prize. Kingery has broken out this year, as he’s raised his ceiling with in-game power not previously suspected. Still not likely a 25-30 HR guy in the bigs, he’s probably not the 6-8 HR guy most thought he might be, either. That boost, plus his continued capable defense, OBP around .370 with a decent walk rate, and big speed (23/26 stealing against AA and AAA catchers is alright by me), make his season the star of the Phillies Minor League System thus far.

Matt: Rhys Hoskins has been the best prospect, and his drop in strikeout rate while moving to AAA has been impressive. Scott Kingery’s power surge has been equally impressive. However, I have to go with Sixto Sanchez, because even if his stats aren’t amazing and he is still eons away, he has made that leap into the elite prospect tier and given the Phillies the elite pitching prospect they didn’t have.

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  1. Mike Fassano

    July 10, 2017 09:19 AM

    MVP – Altherr wins by default. Surprisingly, if Kendrick hadn’t made a second trip to the DL, he would have been my choice.
    Cy Young – Nola. Honorable mention – Neshek.
    Rookie of the Year – Knapp. Even though his stats are almost identical to Rupp, Knapp looks more like a complete ballplayer (Plus he’s 3 years younger than Rupp). Honorable mention – Pivetta.
    Prospect of the Year – Hoskins. He reminds me of a young Tony Perez, and could very well become an RBI machine in the future. Honorable mention – Williams, Kingery, Eshelman, and Sanchez. Oddly enough Crawford, Cozens, Quinn, Therrien, and Leibrandt are omitted, but could well be part of the next core group.

  2. Eddie

    July 10, 2017 03:07 PM

    Matt —

    At one time, it was thought Cornelius Randolph might be able to stick at 3B. Given that his bat has been more “meh” than “wow” so far, is it a crazy idea to let him go back and try that? Let him repeat Clearwater next year, so there’s less pressure on the bat.

    Too late?

    • Romus

      July 10, 2017 03:47 PM

      Randolph is on a somewhat hot streak….last 10 games hitting .364 with 10BBs/9Ks in 43 PAs.

      • Eddie

        July 10, 2017 09:09 PM

        He’s had a hot week; that’s great. But the previous 600 AB are not ancient history.

      • Jersey Jim

        July 10, 2017 11:00 PM

        Needs to keep it up the entire 2nd half while showing more power to even get back in the top #15 org prospects

      • Romus

        July 11, 2017 08:45 AM

        2016-PAs-291…slash – .264/.347/.690….injured shoulder and missed 70 games.
        2017-PAs-323…slash- . 243/345/.731…and trending up at age20 season in Hi-A
        I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if he can stay healthy

      • Eddie

        July 11, 2017 11:51 AM

        Slash lines are typically BA/OBP/SLG, not BA/OBP/OPS. So his career slash is .265/.366/.384.

        That’s a vital distinction in this case, since a LF-only prospect is not viable without power, and even when he was drafted, there were questions about it. He’s shown some this year (8 HR) but his Ks have also spiked (26%). Maybe that’s totally what the Phils had in mind when they drafted him #10 overall, but I expect they were hoping for a tick more.

        Given that, and given that just a couple years ago many thought he could play 3B, seems to me at least worthwhile to ask the question if he really is LF-only.

      • Romus

        July 11, 2017 02:27 PM

        Be it SLG or OPS, both are considered a measure of a hitter’s production.
        Now narrowing to the positional value of just a LFer is something that can be viewed subjectively.
        The position of the corners, according to the even casual analytic does require more ‘power’ than say the CFer.
        However, that is limiting the potential Randolph can develop.
        In Randolph’s case, there were the doubts about his power when drafted as you mention, and he himself has said as much.
        However, in an interview earlier this year he mentioned the now ‘pull’ aspect in his hitting approach to enhance that power production.
        And currently he is tied for 11th in HRs in the FSL.
        However, getting to your point, why isn’t he being tried at 3rd base, especially since that position is probably one of the weakest in prospect strength in the system right now?
        I like to think that could be an alternative proposal in his case.
        As it stands now, it is unlikely the LF position will be there for him in Philly in 3 years.

      • Quad

        July 12, 2017 11:12 PM

        Probably shouldn’t pay that much attention to stats for the lower levels. These kids are just getting acclimated and working on stuff not necessarily results.

  3. Michael C Lorah

    July 11, 2017 07:19 AM

    There doesn’t seem to be much debate about a few of these choices.

    Given the struggles of everyone around them, Altherr and Nola are shoo-ins.
    Knapp definitely gets my rookie nod. If Pivetta can get the homers under control in the second half, he can get back into this race. Pivetta’s ability to overpower hitters has been a nice surprise, but when they get him, they really get him. Knapp’s on-base skills have been desperately needed in this line-up.

    Prospect is a coin toss to me. Hoskins is basically battering down the door for his promotion with his relentless offensive assault, but Kingery’s power surge and similar domination make it hard not to want to see them both promoted as soon as possible.
    I’ll bow to roster logistics and leave Kingery off the 40 until after the Rule 5 draft though. I hope a good spring will have him breaking camp with the team next spring. (I can understand the move to leave him at AAA until May to extend his arb years, but logistically, that’s a little awkward because if you’re going to commit to Kingery next spring, you’re going to need to move Cesar. It’ll be easier to move Cesar during the winter or spring than in May, and if Cesar is moved before opening day, somebody’s got to play second in April and May.)

  4. Jersey Jim

    July 11, 2017 09:24 PM

    First Half MVP: Phanatic

    I can’t believe this oversight was made.

    • denzen

      July 12, 2017 10:50 AM

      (Phanatic)….Good one Jersey Jim……….or cheesesteaks, or Larry Bowa, if you listen to the other teams announcers.

    • Chris S

      July 12, 2017 12:28 PM

      The Phanatic totally got snubbed from the All Star game.

  5. Lynn

    July 12, 2017 11:21 PM

    Don’t think Althere passes the eye test unless you’re looking at his athletic physique and not his in game OF play. He’s just not very efficient out there.

    • Ed

      July 13, 2017 02:14 AM

      Maybe you need to get your eyes checked. He’s been their best outfielder hands down.

      • Lynn

        July 13, 2017 02:40 AM

        Think Perkins and Odubel have been more effective. Better reads, jumps, speed, routes.

      • Michael C Lorah

        July 13, 2017 07:34 AM

        For what it’s worth, the numbers support Lynn’s eyes here.

        Baseball-reference has Altherr at -8 DRS and Odubel at +15 DRS, a 23 run swing in Herrera’s favor.

      • Chris S

        July 13, 2017 09:20 AM

        Herrera definitely passes the eye test for defense and the defensive metrics love him. According to Fangraphs Herrera is the best defensive CF and second best defensive OF behind Mookie Betts.

    • shred

      July 13, 2017 09:46 AM

      Not sure why you are getting so many downvotes. Odubel is certainly a much better fielder. Altherr has also made a number of baserunning errors with 4 CS to only 5 SB, just one less than Odubel.

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