The Philadelphia Phillies are still learning from experience. As one of the youngest teams in MLB, they have taken quite a few lumps over the last two seasons. But, as they enter the 2017 campaign they have added a few veteran bats to go along with the young core they’re building a foundation around. The Phils are not power hitters or speedsters but the can play small ball with the best of them. They struggled in 2016 to produce runs but with this new improved lineup that features Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick that will change.
Here is a look at the 2017 Philadelphia Phillies Projected Lineup.
1. Odubel Herrera CF: If the Phils are to make a run at the NL East then he’s the guy that will start the motor. Herrera is the Phils new generation, Jimmy Rollins. He doesn’t quite have Rollins resume but he does have skills. In 2016 Herrera hit .286, but what most must remember is that this is still a young kid finding his way on a young team. If Herrera can get on base as his 160+ hits indicate, then the Phils could be a problem to handle for opposing pitchers. Herrera stole 25 bases last season but with hitters now placed behind him, that number can rise another 15 making him a dangerous leadoff hitter.
2. Cesar Hernandez 2B: In 2016 Hernandez hit from the leadoff or the 2nd spot. Since the Phillies have a bit more pop in their lineup for 2017, Hernandez has one job. Get on base. It doesn’t matter where he hits, 1st or 2nd, he has to be patient with his swings and continue to hit for contact. He’s not a power hitter but with an average of .294 he can get the job done. The Phillies are more balanced now and every swing counts and he has some protection in the order that can get him home to improve on his 67 runs scored in 2016.
3. Tommy Joseph 1B: Joesph could be the power bat the Phillies need in 2017. But, the issue that he will face is where will he fall in the batting order. 2016 he played mostly in the 4th-5th but with the addition of Michael Saunders and the improvement of Franco, third fits him well. Some may feel that he’s a good fit for cleanup, but his power is not better than Franco’s. Joseph will be dangerous batting two hitters like Hernandez and Herrera as one or both are sure to be on base as he takes his stance. The Phils main issue last season was scoring runs. If Joseph can enter the batter’s box with a runner on base, he could easily lead the team in RBI’s.
4. Maikel Franco 3B: If 2016 was any indication of what’s to come then the rest of MLB better get ready. Franco is a star in the making. The Phillies do not have that Ryan Howard type power hitter in their lineup but Franco comes close. He hit 25 dingers last season but that was due to pitchers not respecting the rest of the batting order. Now, Franco has protection with possibly Joseph hitting ahead of him, giving Franco better pitches to see.
5. Michael Saunders RF: Normally you would place Saunders in the cleanup spot but his decline in production during the second half of the season is a strong concern. But, place him in the order behind Joseph and Franco and the Phillies will have three-hitters whom can take you out the park in any inning. Citizens Bank Park his an HR hitter’s wet dream and Saunders could easily regain his All-Star form, but he will have to earn it. Batting 5th in this lineup is great as his chance for RBI’s will be plentiful.
6. Freddy Galvis SS: What makes the Phillies so dangerous now is that they are mainly a small ball team. No real power hitters, meaning their lineup is interchangeable parts. Move a batter here and he could excel or place another here and he improves the lineup. Galvis is one of those guys that can produce anywhere he’s placed. In 2017 he will need to be, basically, the team’s second leadoff hitter batting behind Saunders to jump start the third leg of the offense.
7. Howie Kendrick LF: The Phillies made a smart move by bringing in Kendrick but was it for offense, defense or leadership? Kendrick is not a power hitter nor a base stealer but he can make contact. Batting this far down in the order will give him a chance to make his presence felt and drive in close to 50 runs in 2017. If he can get on base that will make the job of Rupp that much easier. It’s a shame that the National League does not have a DH then Kendricks role with the team will be that much more important.
8. Cameron Rupp C: It may suck to be the last hitter before the Pitcher is due up but this is a role that Rupp can thrive at. Think about what a pitcher may see when he steps into the box. Galvis may already be on base. Depending if Kendrick is giving a bunt sign then Galvis could be in scoring position. Now, with the pitcher due up, Rupp may be intentionally walked or a Pitcher may take their chances and leave one over the plate. Rupp hit 16 home runs in 2016, and he is one of the most patient hitters in the lineup. If he plays his role correctly he will see an increase from his ’16 total of 54 RBI’s.