2015 Phillies Report Card: Andres Blanco

Of the sixteen batters who stepped to the plate 100 times or more for the 2015 Phillies, the owner of the highest on base percentage (.360) and highest slugging percentage (.502) this season was none other than AAAA middle infielder extraordinaire, Andres Blanco.

…Look, I don’t know either. Entering the 2015 season, Blanco had an utterly pitiful career slashline of .257/.301/.342 with just four homers in 707 plate appearances. This year, the 31-year-old posted a 136 wRC+ while batting .292/.360/.502 with seven homers in 261 PA. Since World War II, only three major leaguers with four or fewer career home runs through their age 30 season (min. 500 plate appearances) have gone on to hit seven or more home runs in a single season: Eddie Stanky, Rob Ducey, and Andres Blanco. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Alec Asher

Alec Asher was probably the least important component to the Cole Hamels trade. Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro all have some level of future star potential. Jerad Eickhoff is already pitching well in the majors, and Matt Harrison, who I keep forgetting about, might never put on a Phillies uniform, but getting out from under his contract allowed the Rangers to absorb Hamels’ contract more easily and greased the skids for this deal. At the time, I said I was worried that the Phillies would trade Hamels for 50 cents on the dollar, and I wanted them to get another dollar bill back–a Corey Seager or Xander Bogaerts. What I hadn’t considered is the possibility that they might trade a dollar bill for three quarters, two dimes and a nickel, which is what happened. Asher is the nickel in this metaphor.

Maybe he’ll improve on a rocky rookie season in the future, but Asher’s most important contribution to the Phillies was restocking the team’s eye candy quotient.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Jonathan Papelbon

I used to hate Jonathan Papelbon. I hated his stink of Red Sox overexposure, the Trachselian breaks he took between pitches, his suffocating semiliterate meathead overconfidence.

Then came the Crotch Waggle Heard Round the World. Then he went on College GameDay, as sober as I am willing to get sued for libel for suggesting otherwise, resplendent in the maroon of his native Mississippi State Bulldogs, and while brandishing an unlit cigar so large it would’ve made Sigmund Freud blanch, traded barbs with Lee Corso and shook Mississippi State’s live bulldog mascot in front of a national television audience.

Clanga clanga.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Ryan Howard

For the first time since Ryan Howard’s ill-advised contract extension went into effect in the 2012 season, Howard was the player the Phillies paid him to be: a power-hitting first baseman. His isolated power (ISO) of .214 — while a far cry from his .311 ISO during his 2006-2009 peak — was his highest mark since 2011 and ranked 10th among all qualified National League batters. Check out this star-studded list of the only NL players with a higher ISO this year than Howard: Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Frazier, Lucas Duda, Anthony Rizzo, Matt Carpenter, Joey Votto. That’s right, Ryan Howard’s name belonged right up there with the elite of the National League in the year 2015 — in one category.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Cody Asche

Cody Asche wasn’t all bad for the Phillies in 2015. He held the fort at third base until Maikel Franco was called up to take over the position in mid-May, then transitioned to left field in order to make himself more useful to the team. That, irrespective of how he hit or fielded, was valuable. However, that’s where his value started and ended.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Dalier Hinojosa

There’s a line I’ve always loved in The Blind Side by Michael Lewis: Before NFL GMs realized the importance of offensive line play, a lineman was an “interchangeable homunculus.” The interchangeable homunculi of baseball are right-handed middle relievers–if you’re good enough to pitch in the big leauges, but not good enough to start or close, you get tossed into a bucket and bounce around from team to team, anonymously pitching the sixth and seventh innings until your body or the season expires, whichever comes first. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Darnell Sweeney

The 2015 Phillies are history. In a franchise with no shortage of truly awful teams, this season’s group will someday fade into its place within a beautiful tapestry of failure. The 2007-2011 years were but a dream. Yes, there’s 1980 and 1993 and many other adored teams, but the Phillies as a franchise are the worst overall in the history of baseball. The image of losing on the back of the cave wall may as well be this video.

Of course, there’s plenty to like about the 2015 version of Phillies baseball, particularly the emergence of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff. Somewhere, between high hopes for the future and a dull, dismal reminder of the pain of being a Phillies fan, is Darnell Sweeney.

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