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 second projection of what Girardi’s first lineup card as Phillies skipper will look like:
No. 1: Andrew McCutchen, left field
In a recent appearance with Angelo Cataldi on SportsRadio 94 WIP, Girardi talked about how the Phillies struggled to replace McCutchen at the top of the order after he suffered a torn ACL in early June.
Lucky for Girardi, he’s expected to have the 33-year-old at his disposal, which makes having him lead off to open the season an easy decision.
In his first 59 games as a Phillie, McCutchen put up impressive production, slashing .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs and a 1.5 fWAR. By Opening Day, he’ll be nearly 10 months removed from his injury, which should give you hope that he’ll be able to bounce back in 2020.
No. 2: J.T. Realmuto, catcher
Realmuto, who has a .327 career on-base percentage, may not be a perfect fit for the No. 2 spot in the lineup, but based on how the rest of the Phillies lineup could shake out, this spot may make the most sense for him to open 2020.
It is possible that Jean Segura could hit out of the No. 2 spot, that would leave Realmuto likely hitting cleanup or sixth. From here, he’s overqualified to hit sixth, and not a natural fit for the cleanup spot either.
We know this – wherever the soon-to-be 29-year-old hits, he’s going to be really, really good. In 538 at-bats in his first season with the Phillies, Realmuto hit 25 home runs and drove in 83 RBIs, both of which set new career-highs. In each of the last two seasons, Realmuto has won the National League Silver Slugger Award at catcher.
No. 3: Bryce Harper, right field
Harper can hit at any spot in the lineup, but he’s most comfortable hitting third, which is likely where he’ll hit for the bulk of the 2020 season.
Even though his free-agent stint didn’t end until March, Harper still had a very successful first season in Philadelphia. In 573 at-bats in 2019, Harper slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 home runs, a career-high 114 RBIs and a 4.6 fWAR.
After what must have been a hectic winter last offseason, there’s reason to think that the 27-year-old probably enjoyed a quiet few months. If you happen to follow him on Instagram, he appears to be chomping at the bit for his ninth major league season to begin.
No. 4: Rhys Hoskins, first base
If the Phillies are going to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011, they’ll need a more consistent version of Hoskins in 2020.
Much, understandably so, is made of the fact that he hit just .180 with a .679 OPS after the 2019 All-Star Break. Even over the final two months of the 2018 season, Hoskins hit just .215.
Hoskins has the potential to carry a lineup when he’s hot, something he did in August of 2017 and June of 2018. He’s not always going to be that locked in, but new hitting coach Joe Dillon will be tasked with making sure his cold spells aren’t as severe or prolonged.
No. 5: Didi Gregorius, shortstop
Gregorius never really got going after returning from Tommy John surgery last season, and admitted at his introductory press conference that he wasn’t 100 percent when he returned.
Still, Gregorius is only 29, and given that he signed a one-year, prove-it deal to come to Philadelphia, he’s very motivated to have one of the most productive season of his career.
During Gregorius’ first presser as a Phillie, Girardi said he envisioned Sir Didi hitting between three and five in the lineup. Given that the most likely outcome appears to be Harper hitting third, it seems unlikely that Gregorius, another left-handed option, would hit fourth (or second).
No. 6: Jean Segura, second base
Segura has slimmed down this offseason, and the guess is that as he moves away from shortstop, he’ll thrive with less defensive stress.
After hitting .300 or higher in three consecutive seasons, Segura’s batting averaged slipped to .280 in 2019. However, the last time he played second base on a full-time basis was in 2016, when he slashed .319/.368/.499 with 20 home runs, 64 RBIs, 33 stolen bases and a 5.0 fWAR. No one’s suggesting that he’s going to top that season, but he’ll only be 30 on Opening Day, so there should be more left in his bat than what the Phillies got last season.
Of course, Girardi hasn’t committed to Segura playing second base, so it’s not impossible he’s the Opening Day third baseman. From here, that’s hard to imagine, though. He’s never played a game at third base in eight major league seasons. He also wouldn’t have a natural landing spot when No. 1 prospect Alec Bohm is ready to come to the major leagues.
No. 7: Scott Kingery, third base
In a crowded National League East (and National League period), the Phillies need Kingery to be much closer to the player that slashed .292/.344/.545 in 202 at-bats prior to the All-Star Break, as opposed to the player that hit just .230 in 256 at-bats after the midsummer classic.
Whether the Phillies ultimately surpass the luxury tax threshold during the 2020 season or not, they need some of the cheaper players on their roster to produce at a high level to supplement more expensive pieces like Harper, Wheeler and eventually Realmuto. For as much discussion as there was about Kingery receiving a six-year deal before ever playing a major league game, the 25-year-old is only slated to make $1.5 million in 2020.
While Girardi has suggested he would like to keep Kingery at one position in 2020, it’s hard to see that happening. If he opens the year at third base, he’ll likely be moved to another spot when Bohm is promoted. If he opens the year at second base, that would mean Segura is at third base, but wouldn’t have anywhere to go other than second base when Bohm is called up. Perhaps Kingery offering such positional flexibility at a low price-tag shouldn’t be viewed in a negative way.
No. 8: Adam Haseley, center field
At the MLB Winter Meetings in December, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said that he expects Haseley to be the team’s “regular center fielder.”
Nothing has changed since then to make you think that the 23-year-old won’t fill that spot. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported in January that the Phillies were continuing to look for a right-handed option to platoon with Haseley. It’s a good bet that as the season goes on, Kingery will slide into that role.
For the time being, Haseley, a first-round pick in 2017, is going to get the bulk of at-bats in center field. Roman Quinn, assuming health, will be an option as well. 2020, though, will offer the first (and perhaps only) chance for Haseley to cement himself as an everyday player.
No. 9: Aaron Nola, pitcher
Nola may miss Charlie Manuel as the team’s hitting coach more than any returning Phillie. He reached base four times in 17 at-bats over the final two months of the 2019 season. As Phillies Nation‘s Jonny Heller noted, Nola actually had a higher OPS than his brother Austin, a catcher and infielder for the Seattle Mariners. Sample size be damned.
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