The Phillies are surprising a lot of people in 2016. They are, at least so far, exceeding almost everyone’s expectations in terms of wins and losses. Their pitching staff is blowing everyone away just enough to keep them winning games. But which individual players could make it to the midsummer Classic in San Diego this year?
I’ll start with the starting pitchers. Right now, the Phillies have three potential candidates, and they are all aged 25 or younger.
The first candidate is Vincent Velasquez. Acquired as part of the Ken Giles trade, the young righty has a 1.44 ERA in five starts this year. He’s 7th in the NL in WAR among qualified starting pitchers, and ranks 3rd in strikeout rate. Additionally, his 0.89 WHIP ranks 4th in the league. If he keeps up the way he’s pitching right now, he could even get a Cy Young vote or two thrown his way at year’s end. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The next starting pitcher that deserves some votes is Aaron Nola. The former first round pick has a 2.93 ERA following his gem of an outing on Tuesday might, but he’s pitching better than even that would suggest. His strikeout and walk rates are close to Velasquez’, as is his FIP. His WAR ranks at 5th best in the NL. His 0.89 WHIP is in 3rd best in the league. He’s been nothing short of impressive.
Jerad Eickhoff rounds out the trio of staters that the Phillies could send to the All Star Game. He has a 4.15 ERA, but, like Nola, he’s been better than that. He’s 13th in K%, 3rd in BB%, 15th in WHIP, 13th in FIP, and 9th in WAR. He’s decidedly behind Nola and Velasquez, but he’s certainly a possible selection to the All Star team if he improves on a few things.
There are two relief pitchers that might deserve votes: Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris. They both have sub-2 ERA’s and rank 1-2 in the NL among qualified relief pitchers in Win Probability Added (WPA). That’s a fancy way of saying they’ve contributed to the team’s chances of winning the most. They aren’t household names, though, and they haven’t opened eyes like Nola and Velasquez, so they’ll need help getting there.
On the offensive side of things, there are only two guys I see making a push. The first should be obvious: Odubel Herrera. He’s been on fire this year—from bat-flipping walks to crazy plays in the outfield. He’s 2nd among qualified NL center fielders in WAR, and has by far the highest walk rate, plus the young Venezuelan’s OBP in 2nd best in the league while his K% is 3rd best. He’s 3rd in wRC+ and wOBA. He’s going to seriously need our help, though, because he’s going up against Dexter Fowler and Yoenis Céspedes. Those guys will get tons of votes simply because of their names (although they certainly deserve it just as much as Hererra).
The last Phillie that should get some votes for the All Star Game is Maikel Franco. He’s been hot and cold this year, but his hot streaks have been great. If he can just find a groove and settle in at the plate, he could be one of the best third basemen in the league. Unfortunately, his stats right now aren’t good enough for the All Star Game, but he’s certainly got the potential to turn that around very quickly.
In total, that’s seven(!) legitimate candidates for the 2016 All Star Game. Potentially having a hefty collection of All Stars is certainly a big feat, especially for the worst team in baseball just a year ago.