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Phillies Nuggets: Opening day lineup projection 2.0

Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper were part of a magical opening day in 2018. (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies are scheduled to open their 2021 season on April 1, when they will welcome the three-time defending National League East Champion Atlanta Braves to Citizens Bank Park. Here’s our second projection of what Joe Girardi’s lineup will look like that day.

No. 1: Andrew McCutchen, Left Field

The Phillies continue to say how much better McCutchen looks this spring training than last year, as he approaches two years since tearing his ACL. The biggest improvement that the Phillies are hoping to see from the 34-year-old is a bounce-back in the field, but his on-base percentage slipped from .378 to .324 in 2020. McCutchen will have to get on base more consistently in 2021 for it to make sense continuing to utilize him as a leadoff hitter.

No. 2: Rhys Hoskins, First Base

By all accounts, Hoskins is healthy after having surgery on his left UCL following the conclusion of the 2020 season. It took a little while for his power to return, but after a disastrous finish in 2019, Hoskins posted a .384 on-base percentage and .887 OPS last year. He’s a crucial piece in Girardi’s lineup.

No. 3: Bryce Harper, Right Field

This is the spot that Harper is most comfortable at, and there’s no indication that he won’t begin the year in the three-hole. Despite playing at least half of the 2020 season with a back injury that left him unable to throw in the final days of the season, Harper still homered 13 times, drove in 33 runs and led baseball with 49 walks. Now that he’s back at 100%, Harper should be primed to have one of the finest seasons of his career.

No. 4: J.T. Realmuto, Catcher

Realmuto isn’t certain to be ready for opening day, though his recovery from a broken finger on his right hand appears to be going well enough to project that he’ll be in the lineup. Set to turn 30 next week, Realmuto has an .825 OPS in two seasons with the Phillies.

No. 5: Alec Bohm, Third Base

If Realmuto isn’t ready for opening day, Bohm could very well hit cleanup. There’s a very real chance – especially if his power output increases – that Bohm will emerge as a better option to hit fourth in 2021. For now, he’ll protect Realmuto.

No. 6: Didi Gregorius, Shortstop

Gregorius had an excellent offensive campaign in his first year with the Phillies, slashing .284/.339/.488 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. Back on a two-year/$28 million deal, it’s reasonable to expect Gregorius to homer 25-30 times over the course of a 162-game slate. To have type of production from your No. 6 hitter gives you an idea of how deep the Phillies lineup has the potential to be.

No. 7: Jean Segura, Second Base

Segura focused more on his on-base percentage in 2020, which led to him walking 23 times in 54 games, a year after drawing just 30 walks over 144 games. Despite only hitting .266, Segura’s on-base percentage was .347, his highest total since 2017. If he can increase his batting average 10-15 points while continuing to see pitches, he’s going to be of tremendous value in 2021.

No. 8: Scott Kingery, Center Field

This is the biggest question currently. Adam Haseley probably won’t be ready by opening day, and considering Max Fried is likely to get the ball for the Braves, you’d think that the Phillies would prefer someone who can hit from the right side. That would rule out both Odúbel Herrera and Mickey Moniak, neither of whom are guaranteed to even be on the 26-man opening day roster. Kingery will probably get the first crack, but Roman Quinn – assuming he’s still with the team – could also draw consideration.

No. 9: Aaron Nola, Pitcher

For at least another year, we’re doing the whole pitchers hitting thing. As far as pitchers go, the Phillies actually have some decent hitters. Most of us, though, look forward to the day where the DH is universal on a permanent basis.


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