The Phillies extended their postseason slump to eight seasons. The team’s best run in their history came from 2007 to 2011 when they made the playoff each year with two World Series appearances and one championship. Philadelphia has two World Series titles (1980 and 2008) plus seven trips to the World Series and 14 chances in the postseason over the team’s 137-year history. Their last winning season came in 2011 (102-60).
Last year they scored 97 more runs than 2018 (677), which pushed them to 14th in baseball. The Phillies ranked 22nd in home runs (215) and 15th in RBI (742). They slipped to 17th in ERA (4.53) with 36 saves.
In the offseason, Philly signed SS Digi Gregorius and 2B Josh Harrison to improve their starting lineup. They added SP Zack Wheeler to develop the front end of the pitching staff. RP Francisco Liriano was the only player signed to the bullpen. 2B Neil Walker will compete for a bench role after landing a minor league deal.
The push for the playoffs starts with a much better year from OF Bryce Harper and 1B Rhys Hoskins. Their starting lineup had length and upside if all the pieces come together.
SP Aaron Nola remains their ace while Wheeler takes over as the number two starter. The back end of the rotation has a mix of upside, risk, and veteran arms, with each option falling short of an impact option. They hope their bullpen has a rebound in overall depth after seeing RP Seranthony Dominguez regress and RP David Robertson go down with injuries in 2019.
The Phillies look a step or two behind the top teams in their division, which puts them on the outside looking in again for a playoff appearance.
1. OF Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen saw his season end in 2019 on June 3rd after suffering a left knee (torn ACL). With nine months to recover from surgery, he has a chance to be in the opening day starting lineup. His start over 219 at-bats (45 runs, ten HRs, and 29 RBI) projected over 550 at-bats would come to 113 runs, 25 home runs, and 73 RBI. Both his RBI rate (18) and AVH (1.786) graded well.
McCutchen had a career-high walk rate (16.4) with a league-average strikeout rate (21.0). He didn’t have a home run over 51 at-bats against left-handed pitching (.294) while failing to find his batting average rhythm vs. righties (.244 with ten HRs and 25 RBI over 168 at-bats). McCutchen was trending forward in May (.282 with 21 runs, five HRs, and 19 RBI over 103 at-bats) with an excellent BB:K ratio (19 to 22). His HR/FB rate (16.7) was his highest since 2012 (19.4), but his swing path delivered a career-high in his ground ball rate (45.1). Speed looks to be a lost tool, and it can’t be expected to be a factor in 2020 after major knee surgery.
With an ADP of 204, the slackers in the room looked poised to buy his veteran resume. Possible 100-plus runs with a neutral batting average and over 20 home runs.
2. C J.T. Realmuto
Last year Realmuto finished 60th in SIscore (1.54), which was 54 spots higher than the second rated catcher in 2019 (Mitch Garver). He set career highs in games (145), at-bats (538), runs (92), doubles (36), home runs (25), and RBI (83). His AVH (1.791) is trending up, along with his CTBA (.357).
Realmuto saw his strikeout rate (20.7) become a new high with some weakness in his walk rate (6.9). His season ended with eight games to go due to meniscus issue in his right knee that required surgery. He played better after the All-Star break (.278 with 15 HRs and 41 RBI over 230 at-bats). Realmuto split time between second and fifth in the batting order. His HR/FB rate (15.7) was a career-high with growth in each of the past four seasons. His ADP (47) fails in a range similar to 2019 while having better overall stats.
Volume catcher in at-bats with value in all five categories. An outside chance at 30-plus home runs with 180 combined runs and RBI. Any stolen bases would be a bonus/edge.
3. OF Bryce Harper
I came into Harper’s profile full of venom for letting me down in 2019, but his only negative stats was batting average (.260). The decline in his strikeout rate (26.1), which moved in the wrong direction for the third straight year, was the reason for failure in this area. His walk rate (14.5) is elite but much lower than in 2018 (18.7). Harper has had a strong AVH (1.960) every year in the majors with flashes of greatness in his CTBA (.377 in 2019 – .441 in 2015). He had better success against left-handed pitching (.283 with 15 HRs and 44 RBI over 197 at-bats). His only impact month came in August (.277 with 23 runs, 11 HRs, 25 RBI, and four SBs over 94 at-bats).
Harper had the 52nd hard-hit rate (45.6) in baseball while his HR/FB rate (23.5) has been in a tight range over the last three seasons. I love the growth in his RBI rate (20), especially in a down year in batting average. When adding in that Harper lost his leadoff hitter, and Rhys Hoskins failed to live up to expectation, he looks poised to add more value in runs and RBI. Pretty much a first-round player with a second-round ADP (25).
Buy the rebound in batting average while understanding he could lead the league in runs, home runs, and RBI. For an owner securing a frontend ace, Harper should be the target with the next pick.
4. OF Rhys Hoskins
A fantasy owner can’t blame opportunity when looking at Hoskins in 2019. He played 160 games with 705 plate appearances, but he made much weaker contact (CTBA – .325) with a higher strikeout rate (24.5). His walk rate (16.5) was exceptional, along with his RBI chances (446). Unfortunately, Hoskins posted a lady-like RBI rate (13). His AVH (2.008) screams 40-plus home runs, which is helped by a massive fly-ball rate (50.4). In 2017 in his hot 50 games, he had a monster HR/FB rate (31.6).
When out of rhythm, Hoskins hits a ton of infield fly balls, leading to easy outs and some risk in batting average. His HR/FB rate (14.3) was his lowest level since 2015 in the minors. Right-handed pitchers held him to a .215 batting average with 20 home runs and 58 RBI over 432 at-bats. Hoskins played the best in April (.279 with eight home runs and 24 RBI over 104 at-bats) while fading off into the sunset in August and September (.166 with six HRs and 17 RBI over 183 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (38.7 – 191st) isn’t special, but it ranked 22nd in 2017 (45.2).
In a way, pitchers at the major league level have figured him out, which means pitching higher up in the zone with the idea of weaker contact. Right kind of gamble for runs, home runs, and RBI based on his ADP (112). His minor league resume says neutral batting average. I’ll take .265 with over 100 runs, 35-plus home runs, and 110-plus RBI. With a better overall feeling about his play, Hoskins should even chip in with some steals. Viable target and possible fun pairing with Bryce Harper.
5. SS Didi Gregorius
Hitting behind Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins is going one of the best RBI opportunities in baseball in 2020. Based on walks alone over the previous two seasons, they were on base 432 times. Gregorius comes off a down season in batting average (.238) while also seeing his contact batting average plunge over his last two years (.310 and .284). He had a great RBI rate (22) over a half of season with strength in that area as well in 2017 (18) and 2018 (16). Gregorius tends to have a low strikeout rate (15.4), but it came in over his previous two seasons (12.3 and 12.1).
After moving to league average in his walk rate (8.4) in 2018, he lost momentum in walks (4.9 percent). His batting average regressed with each month played (June – .290, July – .256, August – .222, and September – .190) while feeling like the odd man out in the Yankees infield rotation late in the year. His best value came in July and August (25 runs, ten HRs, and 37 RBI over 176 at-bats). Gregorius had a career-high in his fly-ball rate (44.1) with a mid-level HR/FB rate (13.3).
Decent option at shortstop with some batting average risk. His AVH in 2018 (1.844) and 2019 (1.857) paired with his RBI rate gives him a chance at 30 home runs and 100 RBI if he does hit fifth all year. His ADP (215) does have a wide variance (low – 176 and high – 311).
To view the full starting lineup, which also includes player analysis for Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, Josh Harrison, Odubel Herrera, Jay Bruce, Andrew Knapp, Neil Walker, Roman Quinn and Nick Martini, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.
Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national