After struggling to score runs for most of the first three months of the season, the Phillies offense is finally heating up with the warmer summer weather.
Through June 16 the Phillies had scored five or more runs just 26 times, a little more than 38%, over their first 68 games.
Since that date, over their last 34 games the offense has reached or surpassed that mark a full 50% of the time. That would be 17 games, including the last five straight and seven of the last eight.
The renewed offensive fireworks have helped the club burst up the standings. Their record since that mid-June date is 22-12. They have risen from third place, four games behind the division leaders at the time, to take a 2.5 game lead of their own.
Rhys Hoskins returned to the lineup just a week earlier from a nearly two-week stay on the disabled list. Since his return on June 9, Hoskins is hitting for a .290/.378/.611 slash with 14 homers, 10 doubles, 39 RBI, and 30 runs scored.
Third baseman Maikel Franco was struggling so badly over the first two and a half months that he was largely benched for almost a week. But since returning to the everyday lineup on a full-time basis on June 17, Franco appears reborn. He has slashed to the tune of .330/.376/.642 with nine homers, seven doubles, and 20 RBI over these last 32 games.
As highlighted in a full piece earlier today on his own break out, Nick Williams has joined the hit parade as well. Now starting full-time in right field for the first time in his career, Williams has a .307/.392/.509 slash with six home runs and 20 RBI since June 16.
Each of those three hot players bashed a pair of home runs in last night’s series-opening 9-4 romp of the host Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Veteran first baseman Carlos Santana, signed to a three-year, $60 million contract this past off-season, also homered last night. The seven homers tied the Phillies franchise record for one game. But Santana had been doing little more than drawing a ton of walks over the first half of the season.
Over the past week, something has changed. The 32-year-old is finally doing what this lineup really needs him to do, drive in runs. Santana has a .286 average and .607 slugging percentage while driving in 10 runs since July 20.
Since July 10, all-or-nothing catcher Jorge Alfaro has been “all” on a more frequent basis. He is hitting to a .364/.462/.636 slash with five extra-base hits, five RBI, and nine runs scored over his last nine games.
Even Scott Kingery appears to finally be finding his stroke. The rookie shortstop is hitting .284 over his last 76 plate appearances beginning on the Fourth of July, scoring 13 runs over his last 19 games.
If the mercurial Odubel Herrera can get fully untracked, it could really send this attack into full beast mode. Herrera hasn’t disappeared, he just isn’t producing very much over this past month. He has, however, registered at least one hit in 16 of his last 21 starts.
Fans have been clamoring for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak to get this surprising first-place ball club some help as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline approaches. That help may be arriving today, just not in the form of a big name added via trade.
The Phillies are promoting 25-year old outfielder Roman Quinn. He will join the club for tonight’s game in Cincinnati. Quinn possesses dynamic, game-changing speed. Unfortunately, the career of the player who many felt would one day be the Phillies regular leadoff hitter and center fielder has been repeatedly derailed by injuries.
In a piece today for NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jim Salisbury described that injury history:
“Quinn’s career has been marked by one injury after another. He has missed time over the years with a torn Achilles tendon, a torn left quadriceps, a concussion, a strained elbow ligament and a torn ligament in his right middle finger, which required surgery in May. Quinn returned to action in the minors earlier this month and is completely healthy.”
Quinn was the Phillies second round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of Port St. Joe High School in Florida. Over parts of seven minor league seasons he has a .278 average and .353 on-base percentage. Quinn has stolen 183 bases and scored 294 runs in 429 games.
He did get to enjoy a cup of coffee with the 2016 Phillies. Promoted that September, Quinn hit .263 with a .373 OBP. He also scored 10 runs and swiped five bags over 15 games, most of which he started in left field.
During a rehab appearance with AA Reading this past Monday night, Quinn doubled, walked, and scored two runs. He also provided a diving catch in the outfield.
After that game, Jason Guarente of the Reading Eagle quoted Quinn regarding his first at-bat, during which he doubled, forced an error during a rundown on the bases, and then came home on a foul pop-up over third base:
“That was a lot of running. I was gassed after that. It was fun. Just getting the read on a couple of balls out there and getting a feel for the wind and everything. Just getting in the whole atmosphere of playing baseball again.“
Since sending Aaron Altherr back to the minors the Phillies have been playing with only their three starters as natural outfielders. Quinn will remedy that, with manager Gabe Kapler likely to use him at all three spots to spell those starters from time to time.
Perhaps just as importantly, Quinn will add a dynamic baserunning presence to the Phillies attack. The team has stolen just 39 bases all season long. Kapler will now have that new weapon at his disposal to pinch-run late in games.
It’s all about staying healthy with Quinn. If he can stay in the dugout and be available to play the field, grab a spot start, step up to pinch-hit, or slide out to the bases to pinch-run, he should prove a dynamic new addition to the Phillies as they try to remain on top of the NL East Division standings.
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