I am very grateful for what the 2022 team did. No one expected them to make the playoffs when they were 22-29, let alone win a round – or even go 6 games against the Astros in the World Series! So for any member of the squad who MIGHT accidentally see this, somehow, some way – I applaud your efforts and thank you for the memories! However – part of this article is to look forward, to see what could be while looking at some possible deficiencies. Admittedly, I don’t watch them as much as I’d like to. I’m good for a Sunday 1PM game as well as the occasional watch from 7PM to 8:30 PM when I pass out. But I’m following scores daily, watching box scores, and have constant conversations with some of my friends to learn more and find what I might be missing.
Let’s start with what I THINK could be the lineup by playoffs next year. This is ASSUMING no MAJOR moves. I will discuss some major moves after this lineup, but want to at least put out there what COULD BE…
Batting lineup in playoffs 2023..
- Brandon Marsh – CF
- Bryson Stott – SS
- Bryce Harper – DH
- Kyle Schwarber – LF
- Rhys Hoskins – 1B
- Nick Castellanos – RF
- Alec Bohm – 3B
- JT Realmuto – C
- Jean Segura – 2B
1 – Wheeler RHP
1A – Nola – RHP
1B – Ranger Suarez – LHP
4 – Painter (rookie)
5- Abel (rookie)
What I liked about the 2022 team?
- Strong home run hitting. Obviously this team is stacked with home run hitting. They have had a decent amount of rallies as well. This produced a strong offense for them. Phillies were 4th in the NL in home runs, but it probably would have been second had Harper been healthy. In the NL, Phils were 4th in avg and 6th in OBP. To me, OBP is YUUUUGE.
- STRONG starting pitching. Wheeler, Nola, and Suarez were fantastic, which is why for me I felt they could win any short series against any team. The Phil’s TEAM ERA was 9th out of 15 – not good. They were 8th in BA against. 7th in strikeouts. Phils STARTERS were 8th in ERA and 6th in strikeouts. But what the takeaway here is, is the major drop off from the 3rd to 4th/5th starters. This is where Kyle Gibson, Bailey Falter and company had a hard time getting through 5. I was at a game this year and saw Falter give up 4 solo home runs.
- There were improvements in the bullpen which featured Hand, Robertson, Dominguez, Alvarado and even Connor Brogdon. But I’m used to a Phillies team getting ahead only to see a bullpen cough it up.
What I did not like about the 2022 team
- The lineup order. How many times in the playoffs did you see awesome homers? GREAT!! How many times was there anyone on base? Almost none. I get the math in getting Schwarber to bat first – maybe gets him another 50-100 plate appearances a year, and perhaps 10 more home runs. But what I’m mostly looking for at the 1 hole is speed and high OBP. More on that below in my analysis. Segura is a .300 career hitter batting 8th in the playoffs. With Girardi and Gabe, there was constant tinkering with the lineup. One can say Rob Thomson’s single lineup approach could have been a key to success.
- Too many strikeouts. Schwarber and Hoskins accounted for almost 400 strikeouts together. These are your 1-2 hitters with a total of .220 BA, 400 strikeouts, and 75 HRs. None of these guys other than Harper seemed to adjust on 2 strikes. I cannot believe hitters at this level refuse to “choke up”, shorten their leg kick, or learn to punch the damn ball the other way.
- 4-5 starters. Just bad this year. Falter ended with a 4.0 ERA, which might be ideal as a 5 on a playoff team. We need to get better than this at the 4 and/or 5.
- Errors – by the time the playoffs rolled around, most egregious mistakes were in the rear view mirror.
- Use of THOR. We got Noah at the trade deadline, and he appeared to be a bona fide 3 starter. Come playoff time, it appeared he was behind Suareze and had a 4.0 ERA. I was wondering why he was only getting 3 innings per start. I don’t see him back in 2023 as his price tag is too high and it might seem he was an upgrade over Falter at 4 as a rental, but not much else.
Roster analysis for 2023 – by lineup
- Marsh – I read scouting reports on him as a line drive hitter. He looked overmatched against lefty fastballs up. Strikes out a lot more than walks. With his defense and his speed, his game needs to work on two things – getting on base more, and stealing. He was described as in the top 5% of speed in the league. You need to use this as torque at the top of your lineup. Drag bunt, walk, foul off 40 times in an at bat. This guy needs to see a LOT of pitches to get better at the MLB level. But – my HOPE is, that as he only has 1.25 MLB seasons and is sitting in the same dugout as Harper, that he learns to be a scrappier player offensively. He was projected by MLB scouts as a .300 hitter and played behind Trout. We got him for Moniak. You will see the thumpers below strike out a ton, but they also walk a ton – about 2.25 strikeouts per walk. Marsh is at 41 strikeouts and only SIX walks. That’s almost 7:1. No pitcher is pitching around him – they are going right at him. Still, he batted .288. So if this guy can decrease the strikeout to walk ratio, and hit .300 in his 3rd MLB season, he might have an OBP at .375. This is what I want from the leadoff.
- Stott – what I saw in the playoffs was something you might not have seen. The sheer number of foul offs this guy had – with his projection as a .300 hitter and solid defense has him as a 2 hole hitter for me. Why? I want the starter on the other team out of the game, ASAP. If this guy can get up 2 times in 5 innings, he could eat 15 pitches himself. He makes contact. He’s not going to be a strikeout king, and I like his swing. Only issue is both he and Marsh are left handers. So, I might move him to lead off and have Segura as the 2 against lefties. He projects most likely as Phils second baseman for the next decade, and him and Harper are besties and both from Vegas.
- Harper – my buddy pointed out he needs surgery, and an article I saw showed that he doesn’t need the surgery to bat, and he has no intention of surgery this offseason. I want him for his offense, as he is the most complete hitter in the lineup – being he can hit for avg, drive home runs, clear the bases by hitting the opposite field, and hits in clutch situations. My vote is to keep him at DH the last 9 years on his contract and let him worry about offense and not getting worn out in the field during August 100 degree temps in right field in Philly. With the shift going away, Harper might benefit perhaps more than most, as many of his hits he was robbed of were in spots the shift would be covering. He could return to .320/.330.
- Schwarber – I don’t like his strikeouts, but dude is a thumper. I want his OBP guys on for guys like him to drive them in with home runs. But – along with the 200 strikeouts, he had 86 walks. So even here, he had a terrible avg, but a .323 OBP. Right now, he starts off as leadoff with no one on base, then next time up, he has 7-8-9 who might not have a high likelihood of getting on. He’s also a lefty. I would swap him and Rhys below for a lefty pitcher.
- Hoskins – I see an estimate of him at $12m in arbitration. I think 2023 might be Rhys’ last year. While he struck out 169 times, he was walked 72 times. It seems that him and Schwarber may be almost the exact same hitter. Rhys has a .332. OBP. However, Schwarbers’ OPS nudges out Hoskins at .827 to .794. Both appear to have about the exact same strikeout to walk ratio. When lefties come up in the rotation, move Hoskins to 4th.
- Castellanos – I previously put him at 7, but saw how aggressive he was in the post season. This is what I want for an RBI guy. He got the big contract this year and he may have been pressing. His aggressive hitting might normally be a 5 hitter, but you have 2 number 4 hitters in your lineup who both have a .330 OBP and can draw walks. This guy can punch them home as he did once hit over .300 with 35 HRs. It was clear to me as the playoffs went on, he was finding his stroke. Early on he was swinging at anything. One of his last at bats was 10 pitches and he was called out on a ball very much low and inside. Hoping for a rebound season from him. An average of .263 isn’t terrible, but I think they brought him in as a DH to hit 30HRs. I think we could see .280 and 25 HR from him, which gives him a good nod to be a 5 hole hitter here batting 6th after two 4 hole hitters.
- Bohm. Bohm to me was a really good 6 hitter. He may project to be a 5 hitter in the lineup. Every game I’m watching this with this guy, he hits. And, most of them were doubles. After starting the season in the dog house, this guy proved himself worthy of being in Philly for years. Thing his, I’m wondering if he might translate to a first base or a right field with his fielding issues. Bohm was a .280 hitter, but only had a .315 OBP. Here you can see 110 SO against 31 walks, or perhaps a 3.3 strikeout to walk ratio. I’d like to see him improve this ratio. Looking at the stats, he seems to have the same ballpark of doubles as Rhys, Castellanos, Realmuto, Schwarber, Harper. So this is a nice 3-8 here for doubles and rallies.
- Realmuto – I just think the world of him defensively, but have seen a decline in the offense. Obviously, he caught a ton of innings, and the announcers kept saying he caught 243 innings more than anyone in baseball. I find that hard to believe, as that is about 25 more games. I liked the offense of his backup Stubbs, who had a .350 OBP. He had a .276 avg and 22 HR, which came up a ton after a slow start. He batted just .215 in the playoffs, and 1/3 of all of his ABs were strikeouts and he drew 6 walks, for a 4:1 strikeout to walk rate. He did have 3 HRs, but you have to ask how age is going to start affecting him with offense moving forward.
- Segura – he looks to be at the end of his contract and was making like $17m last year. I think it’s possible they buy him out. He’s 32, and hit .277 with 10 HRs. But if you look at this team, and the costs – Segura might be able to come back perhaps at a more reasonable $10m for 2 year contract. If not, it’s possible they make the move to bring Stott over to 2nd, but they do not have a SS in their top prospect list anywhere near ready for MLB.
1-3 Wheeler, Nola, Suarez
4: Bailey Falter (cheap. Lefty)
5: Mick Abel/Andrew Painter – might start off the season with a “bullpen game” for the 5 slot until one or both of these guys are ready mid-season, perhaps. Abel is 2 years older, but Painters numbers appear much better. My guess is you could have Abel as a 4.5 ERA the second half of the season as a 5. I see Painter in majors in 2024. These guys might be eventual replacements for Nola/Wheeler if they move on or get injured.
Segura – my buddy suggested Trae Turner or Xander Bogaerts. I don’t see Segura’s salary supporting a .277 and 10HR. I looked up the contracts and Trea is a UFA and Bogaerts locked up to 2027 with full no trade clause. Turner is interesting, and at 29, has a good 5 year contract ahead for $20+ m. He was making $21m this year. So it’s about 5m more than Segura, and production was stupid higher. Granted, they are different positions. I am buying Turner and making up this money by…
Zach Efflin – move on. Was making $5m and mutual option was like $15m. This $5m might be enough to replace Segura with Stott and then replace Stott with Turner. Given the star-studded lineup, Turner might look to Phils – but the Dodgers might also drive trucks of money to his house to keep him. IF they keep him, it would be on a new contract – perhaps as a reliever or even a 5-hole starter until the young guys come up. He does well, at times, but his injuries don’t translate well to s starter work horse. He was looking to be on his way to a 2-3 starter role but kept getting hurt.
Kyle Gibson – UFA, made $8m to be a 5 starter. PEACE. Bailey Falter ended at a 4.0 ERA and can replace him. Bailey is a lefty, which they also need.
Syndergaard – he was on a $20m one year deal with the Angels and I’d take him as a 4 starter at $6-7m, but that’s all at this point. He wanted to pitch his way to one last big deal and didn’t quite get there. Still – the upside of what he was is still there, but there may be mental fragility there in playing the Mets in NY. IF we can get him back at $6-7m this next year until the younger guys are ready, let’s do it. But there may be something we didn’t see as to why they handled him the way they did.
Bullpen – upgrade any and all of these guys…I left Gibson on here…in case anyone got any bright ideas as a 5 starter in a bullpen game with him. As a whole, the bullpen ERA was pretty good. It would be nice to have a “closer” as Corey Knebel lasted maybe a month, then got hurt. Possible you look at Eflin in the crowd of alvarez/dominguez. Eflin is good – flashes of absolute brilliance, but it seemed to be injuries with pitching durations that hurt. He might be a 3.0-3.5 ERA bullpen guy, but that’s a massive step down from a starter.
Hoskins – Rhys was the face of the Phillies, but at issue here is his defense is subpar and statistically, he’s the right-handed version of Schwarber with only 67% of the home runs. He’s always hitting like .245 and his speed is a problem for double plays. While I’m not ACTIVELY shopping him, part of me is considering JT or Alec at first, FA at 3rd or Stubbs catching (.350 OBP??). JT might have 4 more good years left if at first, and Alec could be a 25 HR guy here with better defense than Hoskins. This move might be a stretch for now, but we have no real prospects in the pipeline at first.
If I am the Phillies, I’m looking to try and draft a college junior or senior for first or third, or both – but they mostly draft pitching now. I love Bohm, but unless he can show next year he is solid defensively for the whole season, I’m using a draft pick high on this. Hoskins is in the last year of his contract in 2023, and there’s no one in the pipeline to replace him. He will be 31 by the time he’s a FA and may look for a 5 year $100m deal, which he can probably get. I think the team was supposed to get to the playoffs and perhaps win the first round and lose to the Mets or Dodgers in the second round. Phils got the perfect matchups for them to make the World Series, and this core group is going to be together at least another 4 years. The World Series might not happen next year unless they make some improvements to get past the Mets/Dodgers, namely with back of the rotation, some bullpen hands, and a few aging stars who may reasonably see productivity drop. Their 1-3 starters are extremely solid, can get a 4th in Syndergaard if he wants to come back, and could have a 5th starter in Falter with a 4.0 ERA until Abel/Painter come up.
Phils have spent stupid amounts of money and can go after a Trea Turner if they part with Eflin/Segura to make the money balance. IF they get Turner, I’ll have to adjust my lineup in my spring 2023 Phils outlook.
Future is bright. They still need to work on their farm system, as it gets very expensive to field teams of high-priced free agents when you can get a lot of your farm guys on the cheap for 5-7 years. They do appear to be producing some good pitching prospects now, and you can never have too much pitching. That could be the universal currency to then get any other players you want. So if you mostly focus on pitching, you can dish them out at trade deadlines to get studs that may be on a terrible team and want to move on from a losing group.
They have another shot at the World Series. I know this was an 87 win team or the like, but they started off as 22-29 under Girardi and Harper/Segura each missed over a month. This was a 100+ win team with how it was constructed, and I think Girardi had zero clue how to play young players effectively.