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Phillies Nuggets: 2020 Opening Day Lineup Projection 1.0


Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are both entering their second seasons with the Phillies. (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies will begin the Joe Girardi era in Miami against what should be an improved Marlins team on March 26 at 4:10 p.m. ET. Below is the first of several projections of what Girardi’s first lineup card as Phillies skipper will look like:

No. 1: Andrew McCutchen, Left Field

McCutchen’s leadoff home run on Opening Day 2019 is one of the most electric moments in the 16-season history of Citizens Bank Park. It proved indicative of what was to come from McCutchen in the brief time he was healthy.

Prior to suffering a season-ending ACL tear on June 3 in San Diego, McCutchen was slashing .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.5 fWAR in 59 games. Had he not gotten injured, he may have been an All-Star in 2019. Baseball Reference projects that he would have homered 27 times, driven in 79 runs and walked well over 100 times if he stayed on that same pace over a 162-game season.

Early expectations should be tampered for McCutchen, but if they hope to end an eight-year postseason drought in 2020, the Phillies desperately need a productive version of the five-time All-Star at the top of their lineup.

No. 2: J.T. Realmuto, Catcher

There was some thought to putting Rhys Hoskins – a higher on-base guy than Realmuto – in this position, but ultimately, Realmuto fits better as the No. 2 hitter than at cleanup.

While he still put up strong production prior to the All-Star Break – he slashed .273/.328/.438 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs in 308 at-bats – the Phillies will hope to get the second-half version of Realmuto for as much of 2020 as possible. After the midsummer classic, Realmuto slashed .278/.327/.565 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 230 at-bats.

It’s hard to imagine Realmuto having a much better overall season than he did in 2019, but, as of now, 2020 will be a contract year. The guess here is that Realmuto, who will turn 29 in March, doesn’t plan on surrendering his title as the best catcher in baseball this year.

No. 3: Bryce Harper, Right Field

For all the concerns there are about the Phillies roster, you just get the feeling that Harper is going to have a special second season in red pinstripes.

In the first year of a 13-year/$330 million deal, Harper slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 home runs, a career-high 114 RBIs, 99 walks and a 4.6 fWAR. For the first time since 2014, Harper wasn’t an All-Star after a relatively slow first-half. However, he came on after the All-Star Break, including a monster month of August that saw him hit 11 home runs, drive in 25 runs and post a 1.025 OPS.

Remember, Harper didn’t know what team he would be playing for last year until early March. With a normal offseason, it may not be fair to expect him to duplicate his historic production from 2015, but it’s not hard to imagine him matching the MVP-caliber production he put up through 111 games in 2017.

No. 4: Rhys Hoskins, First Base

2020 may very well be a make-or-break season for Hoskins with the Phillies.

For as much as he’s engrained himself in the community and embraced being a leader, Hoskins is limited to playing just first base and had some inexcusable defensive errors last year.

If Hoskins hits like he did prior to the All-Star Break – he slashed .263/.401/.530 with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs – the Phillies can live with some lean moments in the field. However, there can’t be a repeat of anything close to the production – or lack thereof – that he posted in the second-half of the 2019 season, when he hit just .180 with a .679 OPS.

Though not to the degree of the second half of 2019, Hoskins has been too streaky for his own good through his first two-and-a-half major league seasons. When he’s hot, he can carry a lineup. He’s become a liability at times when he’s not locked in, however. New hitting coach Joe Dillon will be tasked with trying to make sure that when Hoskins isn’t in a hot streak, he doesn’t completely bottom out.

No. 5: Didi Gregorius, Shortstop

When the Phillies introduced Gregorius and Zack Wheeler at a joint press conference in December, manager Joe Girardi said that he envisioned Gregorius hitting between three and five in the lineup. Given that Harper traditionally has hit No. 3 and the Phillies probably want to break up their left-handed hitters, Gregorius hitting No. 5 seems like the most likely outcome.

Though Gregorius still hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 RBIs in 82 games after Tommy John surgery last season, his final season in New York was a down year. In 324 at-bats, Gregorius hit just .238 and posted a meager .276 on-base percentage. In signing a one-year/$14 million deal with the Phillies, Gregorius is hoping to rebuild his value and cash in next winter.

At age 29, it stands to reason that Gregorius could rebound in 2020. He told the collective media at his introductory press conference that he wasn’t 100 percent when he returned last June. Assuming health in 2020, Sir Didi should bounce back to being the player that FanGraphs says was the seventh-most valuable offensive shortstop between 2015 and 2018.

No. 6: Jean Segura, Second Base

Though Segura’s first season in Philadelphia wasn’t bad, hitting .280 was underwhelming after three consecutive seasons of hitting .300 or better.

With Cesar Hernandez being non-tendered and the signing of Gregorius, the expectation is that Segura will shift from shortstop to second base. With less stress being placed on him defensively, Segura’s offense could benefit. In 2016, while playing primarily second base for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Segura slashed .319/.368/.499 with 20 home runs, 64 RBIs, 33 stolen bases and a 5.0 fWAR.

To be a playoff team in 2020, the Phillies will need a bounce-back from Segura, who will celebrate his 30th birthday shortly before the regular season begins. If his Instagram is any indication, he’s shed some weight and is motivated to have a very productive year in 2020.

No. 7: Scott Kingery, Third Base

From here, third base is probably the position Kingery is worst-geared to play defensively. It’s where he’s needed, though, which means at least until Alec Bohm is ready to take over, the 25-year-old will likely get a bulk of his starts at the hot corner.

The Phillies hope that the Kingery they got in the first-half of the 2019 season is who will show up for the majority of the 2020 season. In 202 at-bats prior to the All-Star Break, Kingery slashed .292/.344/.545 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. However, he regressed in the second-half of the season, posting a .230/.292/.418 slash line and .710 OPS.

As players like Realmuto get more expensive, it’s going to be crucial that the Phillies get starting-caliber production out of some of the cheaper options on their roster. Kingery, who will make just $1.5 million in 2020, seems like the most realistic option.

No. 8: Adam Haseley, Center Field

At the MLB Winter Meetings, general manager Matt Klentak said that he expects Haseley to be the team’s starting center fielder in 2020.

Again, with Harper, McCutchen, Segura and eventually Realmuto all making considerable sums of money, it’s necessary that the Phillies get production from pre-arbitration eligible players, even if they do ultimately go over the luxury tax.

Whether Haseley is cut out to be an everyday starter at the major league level remains to be seen. In his first 222 major league at-bats, Haseley slashed .266/.324/.396. He’s never shown much power at any level, which is a concern. It’s slightly less of a concern if his defense allows him to thrive in center field. He did have five defensive runs saved in 315.1 innings in center field in 2019, though that is a small sample size.

It’s fair to have some reservations about the idea of Haseley starting on a team with playoff aspirations. Eventually, though, you need your first-round picks to come up and sink or swim at the major league level. At 23, Haseley will get that chance in 2020.

No. 9: Aaron Nola, Pitcher

Even after committing $118 million to Zack Wheeler this offseason, it would be shocking if Nola, 26, didn’t make his third consecutive Opening Day start.

Nola was an effective starter in 2019, posting a 3.87 ERA and 4.03 FIP over 202.1 innings. However, it was a far cry from his 2018 season, which saw him post a 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 5.4 fWAR over 212.1 frames. To have any chance to win what will be a highly competitive National League East, the Phillies will need Nola to pitch like a National League Cy Young Award contender, as he did two years ago.

Specifically, the Phillies will need Nola to book-end his seasons in a better fashion. He has a 3.93 career ERA in March/April, and a 4.49 ERA in September/October.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Tom G

    January 9, 2020 at 10:27 am

    First thing I see when i see our potential 2020 Lineup is a striking similarity to the Big Red Machine of the 70’s
    1) Rose ( the play anywhere kid-Charlie Husle)
    PHILLIES have Kingery who while is not in the same league, is the same kind of Swiss Army Knife who can play anywhere, fit anywhere.
    2) Morgan (the tough, good hitting, surprising power, good fielding steady force)
    PHILLIES have Segura who is built similarly and hits for average, can field well, surprising pop at times, poor mans Morgan)
    3) Griffey (the good fielding, good hitting, lefty bat toolsy spark)
    PHILLIES have Harper who has even more tools than Ken!
    4) Bench (best Cathcher during a strong catchers era, power, cannon of an arm)
    PHILLIES have Relmuto, the best catcher of his GEN, with a Cannon and can do it all with the bat!
    5) Foster (power hitting left Fielder who can produce quietly)
    PHILLIES have McCutchen is reliable 20/20, even today..walks a ton, similar build, less power
    6) Perez (the steady force at 1st, Rbi machine)
    PHILLIES have Hoskins who should continue to become a more reliable RBI machine, already playing better at 1st, walking a ton
    7) Geronimo (great fielding, strong armed CF’er who could be a steady bat, limited pop)
    PHILLIES have Hasely who is a good fieling, lite power lefty like Cesar, developing bat, could become more accompished
    8) Concepcion (slick fielding, steady, good hitting, no power strong armed SS)
    PHILLIES have Didi, who is a good fielding, not great, good bat, good power SS..

    I see more similarity than not…

  2. SouthJerseySteve

    January 9, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    A. McCutchen LF
    J. Segura 2B
    B. Harper RF
    R. Hoskins 1B
    D. Gregorius SS
    J. Realmuto C
    S. Kingery 3B
    A. Haisley/R. Quinn CF
    A. Nola SP

    I’m not a fan of having a catcher in the 2 hole. I think J.T. would be better served driving in runs than setting the table. Plus batting him second puts more on him mentally, when what’s really important is him working with the pitching staff to get the best out of them and calling games.

    The Phillies should trade Nick Williams to the Tigers for Joe Jimenez. They need bats and we need pitching. Jimenez would be a reliable 7th inning option and Williams would almost certainly start in an OF corner on the Tigers.

    Or how about a blockbuster bad contract swap:

    Odubel Herrera
    Nick Williams
    David Robertson
    For:
    Jordan Zimmerman
    Joe Jimenez
    Kyle Funkhouser

    The remaining salary of Odubel and DRob, plus Williams’ arbitration figure equal almost exactly to Zimmerman/Jimenez’ salary. Detroit needs bats and we need pitching.
    Zimmerman would benefit from a move back to the NL and could compete for the 5th staters gig. If he fails to secure it, he could become our swingman or a long releiver. Detroit is the perfect market for Odubel to get a fresh start because their is very little pressure to win and their is an opportunity there for playing time. Detroit’s OF combined for -1.8fWAR in 2019.

    Side note:
    Vince Velasquez had the worst OPS against for the third time through an opposing teams lineup, not just in 2019, but in a decade! He works high counts and tries to blow batters away. WHY havent the Phillies converted him to Closer yet?

    If Detroit is not interested in Odubel, how about a bad contract swap with the Rockies for one of those awful reliever contracts like Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw or Jake McGee? Again, we have so much depth in our INF with all these minor league signing plus Gamboa is on the 40 man roster in addition to all the OF depth. The Phillies need to be trading from this depth for PITCHING.
    I’m really concerned as a fan that they have not added any proven relievers or a viable back end starter like Alex Wood or Tijuan Walker.

  3. SouthJerseySteve

    January 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    One more crazy trade scenario, this time with the Rockies as a trade partner. The Rockies are looking for the best return for Arenado, which must include a catcher or catching prospect, according to reports. They also want to unload one of their awful reliever contracts like Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw or Jake McGee. My proposal:

    Jean Segura
    Odubel Herrera
    Alec Bohm
    Deivy Grullon
    Enyel de los Santos
    Cole Irvin
    Adonis Medina
    Mauricio Llovera
    For:
    Nolan Arenado
    Kyle Freeland
    Davis/Shaw/McGee

    If the Phillies take on ALL salary, I believe they could get the deal done without including Spencer Howard. Plus with them taking back Segura and Odubel, the Phillies will avoid the second luxury tax threshold. The Rockies can insert Bohm at 3B in place of Arenado and Segura at 2B, another position of need for the Rockies. In this deal they are getting four MLB ready (or near ready) arms with upside, the catcher they covet and a legitimate big leaguer in Segura that will help keep them competitive in the near term.

    I’d even throw in a few 25-30ish type prospects to sweeten the deal, if that’s what it took.
    Jan Hernandez, Jose Puljos, Darrick Hall, Ramon Russo and Luke leftwich are all approaching their mid 20’s with no clear path to the Phillies 40 man roster. Maybe the Rockies would afford them a better opportunity as “throw ins” to my hypothetical proposal.

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