Injuries Obscure Hope For the Phillies’ Hitting Future

The Phillies are the worst team in baseball by a full three games coming into Thursday game against the Marlins. There are many reasons they are bad, but one that has become painfully obvious is injuries. Injuries in the rotation have forced more and more marginal AAA starters into duty, and have consequently put more pressure on the bullpen (this is an entirely different post for another day). The other place where the injuries have really mounted is the lineup. Early in the year this was characterized by Howie Kendrick‘s constant injuries, but now the injury bug has moved into the younger players. Today the Phillies ran out this lineup:

Outside of the insanity that is Rhys Hoskins right now, it is not a good lineup. It also isn’t the Phillies’ best lineup, so let’s reconfigure things some.

  • 2B Cesar Hernandez (105 OPS+)
  • RF Aaron Altherr (132 OPS+)
  • CF Odubel Herrera (109 OPS+)
  • 1B Rhys Hoskins (192 OPS+)
  • LF Nick Williams (121 OPS+)
  • SS Freddy Galvis (86 OPS+)
  • C Cameron Rupp (101 OPS+)/Andrew Knapp (96 OPS+)
  • 3B Maikel Franco (73 OPS+)

Now we are still in small sample sizes on Altherr, Williams, and Hoskins, so I wouldn’t write there numbers in pen just yet. Along the same lines, Odubel Herrera is hitting .343/.388/.579 since the end of May, so his numbers may be a bit low. The problem with this lineup is that SS and 3B are still a problem, but the 1-5 is pretty good and the catching situation is bad defensively, but fine offensively. The Phillies aren’t without prospects, and right now J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery are waiting in AAA for spots to open up. The Phillies should have a market for both Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. What they get back depends on what holes they want to fill. They could get prospects to use in a trade now or later, they could go for a starting pitcher to help with the struggling rotation, or they could try for a 3B upgrade or part time player to pair with Maikel Franco. This then leaves the Phillies with a tentative Opening Day lineup of this: (Opening Day Age)

  • 2B Scott Kingery (23)
  • RF Aaron Altherr (27)
  • CF Odubel Herrera (26)
  • 1B Rhys Hoskins (25)
  • LF Nick Williams (24)
  • C Andrew Knapp (26)/Jorge Alfaro (24)
  • SS J.P. Crawford (23)
  • 3B Maikel Franco (25)

That is not a championship lineup, and it is probably not a playoff lineup, but it is one that is not one that is that far off. If Maikel Franco bounced back or they replaced him with a better 3B the lineup would go 8 deep on competent hitters. If the Phillies made a big move for a hitter like Giancarlo Stanton (he just is the most rumored) then you could replace one of Williams or Altherr with him and give the team a formidable middle of the order if Hoskins does not collapse.

Now many things could go wrong. Rhys Hoskins could be a flash in the pan with an exploitable weakness that pitchers find. Aaron Altherr could just never be healthy. Nick Williams could just flail at everything. Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford might not be good. That is the danger of a rebuild, but if the Phillies are fully healthy there is an offensive core starting to emerge in Philly to build around.

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8 comments

  1. Robin Mitchell-Boyask

    August 24, 2017 05:53 PM

    My takeaway from the last few months is that Williams and Altherr are coachable, and Franco is not. Franco also lacks the athleticism that might allow him to compensate for his complete lack of an approach. I’m close to being completely done with him. I am fond of Galvis, but fear sentimentality might lead Phillies to do something really stupid in the next 9 months. I’m very excited to see this outfield next year but am in despair about 3B

    • Eddie

      August 24, 2017 09:00 PM

      What evidence do you have that Franco is uncoachable? Any complaints from Stairs or Bowa or Mackanin? Beat writers quoting unnamed sources in the clubhouse?

      You simply cannot extrapolate who is or isn’t coachable by simply looking at who has improved. That’s going beyond “scouting the stat line” all the way to “evaluating personal character from the stat line.”

      • Romus

        August 25, 2017 08:12 AM

        Mack said it after yesterday’s game on Franco when Ed Berkowitz asked him about Franco’s struggles so far..
        “…he cannot make the adjustments…”
        “….he is putting the time in the cage”

  2. Dante

    August 25, 2017 08:49 AM

    Assuming one of Kingery or Crawford is ready for an opening day starter spot (or will be early in the season), I think you have to trade Cesar, and keep Galvis. I don’t get the thought process on trading Galvis, who is a perfect choice for utility infielder (goodbye Andres Blanco). He can play better than competently across the infield, can start for stretches at any of those positions in case of an injury, is a clubhouse leader, is competent enough with the bat for the role, is a switch hitter off the bench, and is not expensive. Cesar’s is not as capable as Galvis defensively in a utility role and has much more value as far as team control (3 more years at cheap arb rates vs 1 yr for Galvis) and the floor he’s established at his primary position. So if Kingery is ready, Galvis stays at short until Crawford is up, then moves to a utility role. Likewise if Crawford is ready, Freddy plays 2B until Kingery is up. I foresee the team playing it safe though, holding on to both, and losing leverage in the ability to trade Cesar before other teams settle their 2B situation and his value decreases.

    • Jim Shorts

      August 25, 2017 01:06 PM

      i don’t think galvis would be accepting of a utility role long term and wouldn’t want to sign on for that.

      he is on 1 yr contract. arbitration eligible for 2018 and becomes a FA in 2019. so i guess they could force him to stay for one more year regardless of his role if they agree to pay the arb rate (if they can’t otherwise come to a contract agreement).

      • MplsPhilsFan

        August 25, 2017 01:29 PM

        I would not see Galvis as being forced to stay, he is under contract for 2018 and keeping him on as a utility player may be the best option, unless the market for him is greater than I anticipate it being.

        Both Kingery and Crawford are ready, and I expect both to be up next year. Probably not at the beginning of the year, as the Phillies may wish to push back their service time but it is certainly possible they will be the double play combination at the start of 2018.

        Now 3B, I have no idea what will happen there. Franco appears to be an utter mess. Machado has been touted as a possible solution for a long time, but I cannot see Baltimore allowing him to walk.

      • Jim Shorts

        August 25, 2017 01:58 PM

        he is only signed through 2017. they either pay him arb for 2018 or sign him to a contract (if they can come to terms).

  3. Steve

    August 26, 2017 07:46 AM

    Since you mentioned Stanton, why would the Phillies let him clear revocable waivers?
    Obviously, the Marlins would pull him back, but then the Phillies would have exclusive trade rights and presumably more leverage. Even if the Marlins did stick the Phils with his contract, so what. Id happily absorb that contract if it meant acquiring Stanton without giving up any players.

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