A Glimpse of the Future
We all know this is a rebuilding season for the Phillies. While they have played competitively and are currently at .500, they are probably playing over their heads a bit. Their offense is just too weak to be contenders. This year is all about letting young players develop as well as getting a better idea of how good they are.
Just recently I wrote about their offensive woes, particularly their lowly OPS ranking. Part of OPS, of course, is on-base percentage. There is only one Phillies player who is excelling at getting on base. That is Odubel Herrera. Herrera had a great year last year, especially considering that he had never played above AA before. Not only that, but his second half was stronger than his first, which suggests he was not having success because he was unfamiliar to pitchers. So far he has confirmed that his season last year was not a fluke and that he will be a fixture on this team for years to come at the top of the lineup. After 20 games, he has 19 walks and an OBP of .442. I don’t think that high number is going to last the whole year, but the guy knows how to draw walks and look at pitches. It’s been quite a long time since the Phillies had a legitimate leadoff hitter. Jimmy Rollins had some years where he did a pretty good job getting on base, but never cracked the .350 mark. Herrera is a guy the fans should be excited about.
Now imagine Herrera as the leadoff guy, and batting after him or in third is J.P. Crawford. I saw this article today on CSNPhilly about how Crawford is again playing well in Reading and may soon earn himself a promotion. What’s great about Crawford, is he is another guy who can get on base. He’s actually walked more in his career than struck out, something that Herrera is doing this year. Crawford also has a little bit of pop in his bat, too, which is never a bad thing. Following these two you will have Maikel Franco supplying some power. That’s what the top of the lineup will probably look like next year. Of course, three guys don’t make an offense, and there is a pretty big dropoff after that. However, maybe later in the year we will be able to say Nick Williams will be ready to be the number five or six hitter. It’s no secret the free agents in 2018 are going to be some big names. By that point the Phillies will have an extremely low payroll and a better team. That is the year the Phillies will probably begin to spend on big-time free agents again. Some of the hitters: Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, and Manny Machado. Some of the pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Matt Harvey.
Hopefully, the players I mentioned will continue to sustain and improve upon their success so we will continue to see an improving Phillies team that is ready to add some expensive pieces in 2018. And, of course, hopefully the Phillies will also draft well the next few years.