Opinion

Altherr, Herrera nearing returns: Who’s the odd man out?

According to reports, the Phillies are expected to get some punch back into its lineup when Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr return from the disabled list. Both outfielders have easily been the best hitters on the team thus far (non-Hoskins division). Herrera has been on fire since June 3, slashing .342/.388/.579 with 24 doubles. Altherr has consistently kept his average in the .280s along with his 16 home runs and 49 RBI. When those two are full healthy and ready to go, they’ll go in Pete Mackanin’s lineup card in pen, not pencil.

Because the Phillies were down two outfielders, it prompted the much-anticipated callup of top prospect Rhys Hoskins, who – if you haven’t heard – made history. Hoskins has been a revelation, and he’s been that revelation because he had a place to play. Being blocked all year by Tommy Joseph at first base, the injuries to Altherr and Herrera created a spot. The Phils stuck Hoskins in left field for three games before his callup from triple-A. He’s played the vast majority of his big-league games in left.

When Altherr and Herrera come back, they’re locks to start regularly the rest of the year, and so is Nick Williams. With Williams’ youth and talent, the Phillies have to let him play the rest of the year, too. The left-hander has shown the ability to get on-base at a .348 clip in his 53 games, a facet he’s lacked for much of his minor league career. With those three outfield spots locked up (which could be the opening day 2018 outfield), that means Hoskins has been moved out and back to first base.

So that means Tommy Joseph is the odd man out. There’s no way Mackanin can split playing time between Williams, Herrera, Altherr and Hoskins over Joseph.

The (lousy) argument to keep playing Joseph: showcase him for an offseason trade. Are teams going to knock down the Phillies’ door down for a first baseman who’s slashing .239/.291/.430 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI on the worst team in the league? Tommy Joseph is what he is. He’s average (at best), both at the plate and in the field. There’s really no other way around it. Any game-changing potential Joseph has, we would’ve seen it by now. It would be a shame if Mackanin steals at bats away from the future and hands them to someone who’ll be an afterthought by season’s end.

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