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Philadelphia Phillies Season in Review: Brandon Marsh

Brandon Marsh made a drastic change upon his arrival with the Philadelphia Phillies, have they finally found their center fielder of the future.

The Philadelphia Phillies have a history of great center fielders.

Most recently, Shane Victorino and Aaron Rowand propelled the club to playoff berths during their last great run. Lenny Dykstra and Garry Maddox lifted the Phillies to one and two pennants respectively, and Maddox did so while winning seven straight Gold Gloves.

Of course, who could forget Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, and the man who established the 'Williams Shift', Cy Williams, often attributed to his more famous counterpart Ted.

Even within the last several years, Odúbel Herrera was a force when he first broke into the league, though age and a series of disgusting allegations eventually caught up to him.

For their next great run, the Phillies needed someone whom they could rely upon, Matt Vierling wasn't the answer.

Thus, early-August found Phillies president Dave Dombrowski trading his top hitting prospect in Logan O'Hoppe to the Los Angeles Angels for Major League flameout Brandon Marsh.

If you didn't know anything about baseball, it was a trade that made no sense on paper.

O'Hoppe was perhaps the most valuable offensive commodity in the Phillies system, a good defensive catcher with an .889 OPS as a 22-year-old at Double-A.

Meanwhile, Marsh was a two-year MLB veteran who's OPS never came close to scraping .700. Over 583 Big League plate appearances, his slashline was .239/.299/.354.

And he was a left fielder!

What was the future-Hall of Fame executive Dombrowski doing?

The Phillies, a team that for years had one of the worst development and coaching staffs in baseball, had finally reshaped themselves.

Dombrowski wasn't trading for the Major Leaguer Brandon Marsh, he was trading for the prospect Brandon Marsh, and what a prospect he was.

As recently as March 2021, Baseball America ranked him the no. 38 talent in all of the minor leagues. An impressive fielder and a bat built for contact, the Phillies believed they could unlock potential the Angels had never even searched for.

Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Marsh immediately connected with hitting coach Kevin Long, who shortened the outfielder's swing and cut away the moving parts which made it hard to perfect.

Though his strikeout-rate was still a lofty 29.7% by season's end, it was a 6.5% decrease from the standard he had set in Los Angeles.

With the reduction in strikeouts, came the increase of his hitting stats. Marsh became both an above-average fielder and an above-average hitter in Philadelphia, slashing .288/.319/.455 in 138 plate appearances.

Though he was worth only 1 OAA and zero DRS, that improvement over the production of Herrera and Vierling was significant.

Marsh altered the Phillies lineup entirely, the club no longer had an offensive black hole from their center field position, and going forward, they have five more seasons to mold him into an even better bat.

The culmination of that newfound success all came together in the ultimate Game 4 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. 

That afternoon in front of a packed Citizens Bank Park, Marsh crushed the go ahead home run that put the Phillies on top and sent his team to the NLCS.

Final Grade: A-

From scrub outfielder on a flailing Angels team, to cornerstone center fielder on a pennant winner, Marsh's journey took him from coast to coast and basement dweller to championship contender.

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