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 third and final projection of what Joe Girardi’s lineup will look like Thursday.
No. 1 – Andrew McCutchen, Left Field
McCutchen is 34 now, but the five-time All-Star looked healthier this spring than he ever did a season ago. He’ll need to rebound defensively without the DH returning. Offensively, the Phillies need him to get on base at a clip much more like what he did in 2019 (.378), as opposed to 2020 (.324).
No. 2 – Rhys Hoskins, First Base
It took him a little while to rediscover his power, but Hoskins was excellent offensively during the pandemic-shortened season, slashing .245/.384/.503 with 10 home runs, 26 RBIs and an .887 OPS. The 28-year-old appeared completely recovered from offseason surgery on his left UCL this spring, and should be primed for a big year.
No. 3 – Bryce Harper, Right Field
Even though he played at least half of the 2020 season with a relatively bad back injury, Harper still led baseball in walks, homered 13 times, drove in 33 runs and posted a 1.6 fWAR. With an adjustment to how he throws the ball, Harper hopes to stay healthy in 2021 and potentially put together his best season in red pinstripes.
No. 4 – J.T. Realmuto, Catcher
The 30-year-old backstop missed a bulk of spring training with a fractured right thumb, but Realmuto showed enough in 14 Grapefruit League at-bats (including a home run in his first at-bat) to make it back for opening day. There’s certainly an argument to be made that Realmuto would be best served hitting fifth or sixth, but he hit in the cleanup spot in 43 of his 47 starts a year ago, so we’ll bet that’s where he is at least to open the season.
No. 5 – Alec Bohm, Third Base
The three spots that Bohm hit at most frequently in 2020 were eighth, seventh and third, none of which he’s likely to do on Thursday, or perhaps at any point moving forward. It is possible he hits sixth, but with a left-handed starter on the mound, we think fifth is the most likely spot for one of the Phillies best run producers.
No. 6 – Didi Gregorius, Shortstop
Gregorius was excellent in his first season with the Phillies, which earned him a new two-year/$28 million deal. If you can have someone coming off of a season where they hit .284 with 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and an .827 OPS in just 60 games hit sixth, your lineup should be pretty damn good.
No. 7 – Jean Segura, Second Base
Segura had a strong spring, hitting .316 with a .400 on-base percentage in 16 games. He’s worked over the last year to get on base more consistently, even when it’s not because of a hit. Segura’s third season with the Phillies could very well prove to be his strongest.
No. 8 – Roman Quinn, Center Field
Joe Girardi kept things close to the vest Wednesday morning, not revealing whether it will be Quinn or Adam Haseley in center field on opening day. 2020 is a crucial year for Haseley, and he probably has a better chance of altogether seizing the job for himself than Quinn. That said, the Phillies will be facing a left-handed pitcher in Max Fried, and just 10 of Haseley’s 79 at-bats a season ago came against southpaws. Quinn is a switch-hitter, so we’re going to guess that he starts the game in center, though it wouldn’t be surprising at all if both see action Thursday.
No. 9 – Aaron Nola, Pitcher
Whether you like watching pitchers hit or not, it will be strange to see the return of traditional National League baseball in 2021, perhaps for the final season ever.
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