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Phillies Nuggets: Opening Day lineup projection 3.0

The Phillies are counting on a bounce-back from Rhys Hoskins in 2020. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/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 third projection of what Girardi’s first lineup card as Phillies skipper will look like:

No. 1: J.T. Realmuto, Catcher

Realmuto probably isn’t the prototypical leadoff hitter because he isn’t a high on-base guy, but if Joe Giardi’s recent Spring Training lineups are any indication, he’s the favorite to hit there in Andrew McCutchen’s absence. For what it’s worth, Realmuto has a .339 career batting average hitting out of the No. 1 spot.

No. 2: Bryce Harper, Right Fielder

As Aaron Judge established himself as one of the league’s preeminent offensive players in 2017, Girardi, then managing the Yankees, increasingly used Judge out of the No. 2 hole to get him more at-bats. During the final 20 games of the 2017 regular season – a campaign that saw Judge explode for 52 home runs – he hit out of the No. 2 hole 15 times. Expect Harper to hit No. 2 at least to start the season, and possibly beyond.

No. 3: Jean Segura, Third Base

Segura is slimmed down this Spring Training, and the Phillies can’t stop raving about the approach he’s brought with him ahead of his second season in red pinstripes. From 2016-18, Segura hit .300 or better each season. Last year, he regressed to .280. We’ll see if he’s able to figure things out defensively at the hot corner, but he feels primed for an offensive bounce back regardless.

No. 4: Rhys Hoskins, First Base

What’s there to say? If the Phillies are going to make the playoffs in 2020, it’s going to be because their offense carried him there. Simply put, they need Hoskins to be significantly better than he was a season ago, when he hit just .180 after the All-Star Break. If Hoskins hit at the level he did in 2018 – when he slashed .246/.354/.496 with 34 home runs, 96 RBIs, 87 walks and an .850 OPS – it would certainly represent a bounce-back season. The Phillies need more than that to have a legitimate chance to win what’s expected to be a heavily-contested National League East, though.

No. 5: Didi Gregorius, Shortstop

Gregorius broke into the hits column Monday, going 2-2 with a walk and an RBI in the Phillies spring win over the Minnesota Twins. Certainly, there’s other areas of the team that the Phillies could have invested the $14 million they are spending on Gregorius in. He needs to bounce-back to the form that he showed with the New York Yankees between 2016 and 2018 – when FanGraphs says he was the seventh best shortstop in terms of offensive production – to justify the prove-it deal that the Phillies gave him.

No. 6: Scott Kingery, Second Base

There’s been a thought from some over the past two years that if Kingery got to play second base, his natural position, on a full-time basis, he could put together All-Star caliber production. It appears, at least to start the season, the 25-year-old will get that chance. It will be interesting to see how the Phillies proceed with Kingery if Alec Bohm forces a call-up during the season and there isn’t a natural spot to move him or Jean Segura to.

No. 7: Jay Bruce, Left Field

Girardi hinted earlier this week that Bruce will likely man left field on Opening Day, but we’ll have a better idea in the coming days as he plays in the outfield for the first time this spring. He has six hits and four RBIs in 18 at-bats this spring, so there’s little doubt that the soon-to-be 33-year-old can still be a run producer.

No. 8: Roman Quinn, Center Field

This may end up being Adam Haseley, but this spring, as he does every time he’s healthy for any stretch of time, Quinn has reminded the world how valuable he can be. He’s capable of playing all three outfield positions and is as fast as just about anyone in the league. The tie-breaker with Haseley is Quinn is a switch-hitter, which keeps you from having a stretch of three out of four only left-handed batters. It would be ignoring history to expect that Quinn won’t have a trip or two to the injured list this season, but while he’s healthy, the Phillies should get what they can out of the 26-year-old.

No. 9: Aaron Nola, Pitcher

This is more of a placeholder than anything. If Nola is able to quickly rebound from the flu that forced him to be scratched from his scheduled Spring Training start on Monday, he’s expected to start on Opening Day. If not, his first start of the regular season will be pushed back and Zack Wheeler will make his Phillies debut on Opening Day. In 220 career at-bats, Wheeler has hit .150 with one home run and 15 RBIs, so relative to other pitchers, he’s a pretty decent hitter.


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