Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

How much has each Phillies regular position player been worth in dollars?



Odubel Herrera is finishing his fourth season with the Phillies. (Ian D’Andrea/Wikimedia Commons)

Just how valuable has each Phillies regular position player been in 2018? It’s hard to give an exact answer to that, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.

FanGraphs has an interesting tool that places a dollar value on the production each player has had in an individual season. The dollar value is determined by “converting WAR to a dollar scale based on what a player would make in free-agency.” It’s important to note that WAR is just one tool that is valued differently by each front-office. Many of the players discussed in this piece also aren’t close to free-agent eligibility. Still, this should provide an interesting look at how valuable each Phillie has been in 2018, which a comparison to what their actual salary is.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $547,000

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $12.2 million

Alfaro has teased his talent in 2018, but not so much that the Phillies weren’t willing to go out and upgrade when Wilson Ramos could be had for next-to-nothing.

Offensively, Alfaro is batting .255 despite a .391 batting average on balls in play. That means he simply doesn’t put the ball in play enough to give it a chance to be successful. In fact, the 25-year-old has struck out in over 35 percent of his at-bats in 2018. Still, he has as much raw power as one could possibly hope for. As John Kruk regularly says on the telecasts, if Alfaro ever realizes he doesn’t need to swing as hard as he is physically capable of, he has the chance to be an elite offensive catcher. Of course, just because someone has a high ceiling doesn’t mean they will reach it.

One of the key pieces in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade, Alfaro has shown improvement behind the plate, even if it feels like he’s been part of a catching corps that has allowed far too many passed balls in 2018. Alfaro has been in the top-half of catchers in terms of pitch framing and possesses a world-class arm. If there was ever any question about his ability to stick behind the plate, he’s answered it this year.

He hasn’t, however, shown so much that the Phillies wouldn’t consider re-signing Ramos this offseason if the price is right.

Catcher Wilson Ramos

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $10.5 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $19.9 million

Ramos, of course, has spent the majority of his season with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Phillies acquired him just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and a hamstring injury prevented Ramos from making his Phillies debut until Aug. 15. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has had to manage Ramos’ hamstring, but when he’s been able to pencil the 31-year-old into his lineup, Ramos has been excellent.

Granted, 43 at-bats is a small sample size, but Ramos’ .370 batting average since joining the Phillies has prompted some to wonder if the Phillies will attempt to re-sign him this offseason. If Ramos is willing to sign a one or two-year deal, he very well could turn out to be more than a rental.

First Baseman Carlos Santana

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $18.33 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $10 million

This perhaps puts things in perspective. As I wrote last month, there’s a debate to be had on how Santana has performed in his first season with the Phillies. However, the debate that’s been had for much of the season hasn’t been nuanced: it’s been a debate of whether Santana is a good player or not, which is a silly debate to have.

Santana’s production has been worth $10 million thus far in 2018. Bad players don’t produce at a $10 million level in the major leagues. But a 20-point drop in his batting average from his .247 career average – some of which can be attributed to bad luck, he has a .230 BABIP – is a reason why he has underperformed to a degree in 2018. Though he’s been a better fielder than Rhys Hoskins probably would have been at first, Santana also has committed an uncharacteristic 10 errors in 2018.

The 32-year-old is due over $20 million in each of the next two seasons. To a degree, the Phillies overpaid Santana annually to avoid having to guarantee him a fourth year. But given the struggles that Hoskins has had adjusting to left field, it’s fair to wonder if Santana will even see a second season in Philadelphia.

Shortstop Scott Kingery

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $1 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): -0.8 million

By-and-large, Kingery’s rookie season has been a disappointment. After entering the season as a Rookie of the Year candidate, the 24-year-old has slashed .230/.278/.338 with a -17.1 offensive WAR. His -17.1 offensive WAR is the fourth worst mark among all qualified hitters.

If there’s any silver lining to be found, it’s that Kingery seems to have grown as a shortstop as the season has gone along. It’s entirely possible he will open the 2019 season as the Phillies starting shortstop. If the Phillies sign Manny Machado, Kingery could return to his natural position of second base or serve in the super-utility role that the Phillies originally anticipated him playing in for the 2018 season.

The other silver lining is that though the Phillies signed Kingery to a six-year contract prior to him ever playing a major league game, it’s one that will likely go down as an all-time team-friendly contract, even if Kingery doesn’t fulfill his potential. The most money that he’s guaranteed at any point in his contract is $8.25 million in 2023. The deal also includes very affordable club options from 2024 to 2026.

Second Baseman Cesar Hernandez

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $5.1 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $15.2 million

As I wrote this past weekend, while it’s possible 2018 is Hernandez’s final season in Philadelphia, don’t be so sure. Despite a rather steep decline in his batting average and some regression in the field, Hernandez still does quite a bit that the Phillies like. Perhaps the biggest is that he sees pitches – Hernandez has led the Phillies in walks the last three seasons and has already set a career-high with 83 walks.

Given that he won’t be 29 until next May, there’s also no reason to think Hernandez couldn’t have somewhat of an offensive bounce-back in 2019. He also can’t be a free-agent until after 2020, and given that the Phillies didn’t find a trade offer to their satisfaction the past two offseasons, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll trade him this offseason after a relative down season.

In any event, after being worth -5.7 million in his first two major league seasons, the Phillies have gotten tremendous value out of Hernandez over the course of a four-season stretch when you consider $5.1 million is the most money he’s made in an individual season.

Shortstop/Third Baseman Asdrubal Cabrera

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac):$8.25 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $18.3 million

Cabrera hit just .232 in August, his first full month as a Phillie. However, between the Phillies and the New York Mets, Cabrera is still having one of the finest seasons of his career, as he’s homered 23 times and driven in just shy of 80 runs. He’s also hit a home run in three of his last five games, so there’s reason to believe he may finish the 2018 season on a high note.

Of the names on this list, Cabrera is probably the least concerning to the Phillies. While it would be nice for him to help the Phillies reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011, with Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and the possibility of a free-agent signing of Manny Machado, there’s next-to-no chance the Phillies retain the 32-year-old in free-agency.

Third Baseman Maikel Franco

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $2.95 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $9.9 million

Still just 26, Franco has turned in arguably the best season of his career in 2018. Though he’s currently dealing with a wrist injury, Franco has slashed .267/.311/.470 with 22 home runs and 66 RBIs this season. His bounce-back after a dreadful 2017 season hasn’t assured that the Phillies won’t listen to trade offers this offseason, but it has assured that they won’t pursue a free-agent option like Mike Moustakas, one that once seemed like a potential trade deadline target.

Even though it feels like Franco has played for the Phillies for quite some time, 2018 was only his first arbitration year. The Phillies – thanks in part of a service time loophole – have three more seasons of control over Franco. The chances of him being part of the Phillies long-term plans are much higher than they were a season ago, when Franco was worth -3.7 million.

Left Fielder Rhys Hoskins

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $552,500

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $18.3 million

While Hoskins’ first full season in left field hasn’t been successful, his first full offensive season at the major league level has. The 25-year-old, who is pre-arbitration eligible, has slashed .248/.360/.486 with 27 home runs and 84 RBIs, while posting a 21.7 offensive WAR.

Hoskins isn’t a finished product yet offensively, making his future so enticing. Hoskins has shown a tendency to go hot and cold rather easily, even if the extremes aren’t as drastic as Odubel Herrera. If he can develop more offensive consistency, Hoskins has a chance to compete for National League MVP awards in the future.

In any event, he’ll be a bargain for the Phillies for the foreseeable future.

Center Fielder Roman Quinn

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $545,000

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $5.6 million

Since joining the Phillies in late July, Quinn has hit .346. He ended Tuesday evening’s win over the Miami Marlins by tracking down a ball in center field that most center fielders simply wouldn’t have been quick enough to get to. He’s also already stolen six bases. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said last week that Quinn has as much talent as anyone on the Phillies, which may not be much of an exaggeration. But his Achilles heel has been, well, not his Achilles, but nearly every other part of his body.

If the 25-year-old is able to stay healthy for the remainder of the season and into next year, he’ll factor into the Phillies plans in some manner. He’s good enough to be leading off for a playoff-caliber team. But it remains fair to be skeptical of his ability to stay healthy, which is rather unfortunate because it’s largely something he can’t control.

Center Fielder Odubel Herrera

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $3.35 million

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $12.9 million

Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, the future of Odubel Herrera will be discussed heavily this offseason. When that discussion takes place, it’s important to factor in the team-friendly contract that Herrera has.

Though the 26-year-old has hit just .232 since the All-Star Break, a scorching-hot start to the season is a major reason why Herrera still has rather easily outplayed his salary in 2018. Again, that doesn’t mean that one can’t debate the future of Herrera this offseason. His defensive metrics have fallen off a cliff in 2018 and he’s on-pace to post the lowest fWAR of his major league career.

Still, Herrera is due under $25 million between 2019 and 2021. He also has very affordable team options for 2022 and 2023. In some senses that may make him a valuable trade asset. However, given the disappointing second-half that he’s had, it’s hard to imagine Herrera’s trade value being at a place that general manager Matt Klentak would be happy with. The guess here is that he’ll be a Phillie in 2019.

Right Fielder Nick Williams

Total Salary (courtesy of Spotrac): $553,000

Monetary Value (courtesy of FanGraphs): $6.2 million

For much of the season’s first month, Williams was the Phillies fourth outfielder. But after an impressive 313 at-bat debut in 2017, Williams seized the starting right fielder’s job from an underperforming Aaron Altherr. His .261/.333/.439 slash line with 17 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .771 OPS gives him a good chance to be starting in the team’s outfield somewhere next year.

With that said, Williams has -13 defensive runs saved, a -6.7 ultimate zone rating and a -11 defensive WAR. He’s never graded out well as a fielder, and the Phillies figure to prioritize fielding this offseason after what’s been a very disappointing season in the field for the team.

If Rhys Hoskins returns to first base in 2019, Williams will likely be the team’s starting left fielder. However, if Hoskins is in left field, Williams starting is much less sure. Odubel Herrera is under contract, and if Roman Quinn is healthy, he’s likely to see a major role in the team’s outfield in 2019. Oh, and there’s the looming possibility of Bryce Harper’s free-agency.

Williams has improved his walk percentage in 2018, while seeing a dip in his strikeout percentage. He also has hit over .400 as a pinch-hitter. Barring his inclusion in a major trade, Williams will be on the Phillies in 2019. It’s not entirely clear what his role will be.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. pamikeydc

    September 5, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for writing this. This is excellent.

    • Tim Kelly

      September 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Thank you for the positive feedback and support. I appreciate it.

  2. Joseph M. Fricano

    September 5, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Yeah, he’ll be disappointed. Let’s start with game one of the season and continue on with Herrera’s antics in CF. Stupid comment from a stupid manager. Should have been canned on day one. Mental case along with the CF. They both have no clues.

    • Matthew Veasey

      September 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Pretty harsh evaluation. But it also shows the kind of passion that true Philly fans are known for throughout our history. Certainly Gabe Kapler has some learning and growing to do as a big-league manager. Let’s hope he does indeed learn from this first season, and that he incorporates the knowledge and experience he is gaining this year as we move into the future. He seems like that type to me. We shall see.

  3. Craig Glessner

    September 5, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    I think those values are garbage. According to them Santana is worth more than Franco. Worst hitter more than best offensive numbers that sounds like how Kapler puts together a batting lineup. How is Kingery valued that low also I would use him over Hernandez and he is amazingly valued over $15 million. I wonder what Kapler’s value is. GEAUX PHILLIES

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