Philadelphia Phillies Predictions For 2017
As the calendar turns to April, another baseball season is upon us. With the Phillies cutting ties with Ryan Howard—the last player remaining from the 2008 world championship team, a new era has officially begun at Citizens Bank Park.
Will the Phightins wind up in the cellar? Or will this young team show signs of life bringing hope for the future? Our Philly2Philly “experts” weigh in:
If memory serves, last year I was the resident optimist, projecting the Phils to win 73 games, which they almost hit (eventually dropping to 71-91). Indeed, until mid-May or or so last year, they looked dangerously close to being an 80-win team.
For 2017, it seems that they’re heading in the right direction, but an examination of the roster reveals very few causes for great optimism…unless veteran pickups such as starter Clay Buckholz and projected starting leftfielder Howie Kendrick are here to lead us retroactively to the 2013 postseason. Yes, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph have enough easy pop to produce 55 homers from the corners of the infield, and one can do worse than Rupp, Hernandez, Galvis and Herrera up the middle.
Maybe not much worse, but still…
The 2017 edition of the Phils inspires more feelings of competence than awe. For instance, if Aaron Nola bounces back and Jared Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez make strides, it could be a pretty good rotation. I’m a little torn about this year’s prospects, but do think they’ll finish somewhere in the 70s. Not decade-wise, but win-wise. Score it an even 76 on my card, with dreams of .500 ball in 2018.
Man, is that what passes for Philly optimism these days – dreaming of .500 ball for next year?!
Last year, I picked the Phillies to lose 100 games, but they started off looking like a legitimate contender. Then, like Wiley Coyote running off the edge of a cliff and continuing to run through the air until he finally realizes that he's defying all logic, and goes plummeting to the earth, so the Phillies also fell off the cliff and went splat! They ended up losing 91 games.
This year, I think they'll be a little better, but still not a .500 team.
Too bad we can't jump into a time machine and go back to the days when players such as Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava were all halfway decent hitters. But even then, those players possessed very little power in comparison to other players at their position. And now, in 2016, these off-season additions aren't going to help the power-challenged Phillies much. I do like the acquisition of Michael Saunders, and pitcher Clay Buchholz, since the minor leaguer they gave up for him wasn't a strong prospect. Maybe those two will help. But for the most part, this will be another season of waiting and watching and hoping for the development of the younger players.
Of those players, Roman Quinn is the one I like most. If he makes the team out of spring training, and shows the kind of plate patience he's displayed in the minors, his ability to get on and steal bases could make him very valuable. That's if he can stay healthy, which he's never done so far. By season's end, it would be good to see Quinn, Tommy Joseph, and top prospects J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro all getting some playing time together.
Patience is the key for those minor leaguers, who have to learn to stop chasing bad pitches, just as patience will continue to be a requirement for us fans.
Joe Vallee — @JoeVallee214
I’m not going to say I’m indifferent towards the 2017 Phillies. There’s something always exciting about the beginning of a baseball season. That being said, I can’t help but feel this team is currently stuck in limbo right now—for several reasons.
Lineup: For starters, let’s begin with...the starters. There’s obviously talent here. Only question is, exactly how many of these players will even be on this roster over the next few years? Cameron Rupp has proven he can catch in the big leagues, but will Jorge Alfaro fulfill his promise and eventually supplant him? That remains to be seen. Alfaro will have to do better than he did during his September cup of coffee—which saw him strike out eight times in 16 at bats.
What about Tommy Joseph? Can he improve on his respectable rookie season? Will Freddy Galvis be replaced at shortstop by J.P. Crawford, who struggled last year after his Triple-A promotion? Could Cesar Hernandez eventually make way for prospect Scott Kingery at second base? To top things off, there’s already rumors that the Phillies could make a run at Orioles All-Star third baseman and Gold Glove winner Manny Machado, if current third baseman Maikel Franco doesn’t show improvement. Even free agent signing Michael Saunders and veteran newcomer Howie Kendrick are likely stopgaps. Roman Quinn has shown some promise, but can he play every day and stay healthy? Prospects Rhys Hoskins, Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams have the potential, but that’s exactly what it is at this time and nothing more. One player who isn’t a question mark is the newly-minted Odubel Herrera. With two full seasons under his belt, it will be exciting to see where he takes his game in 2017.
Starting Pitching: Despite having a rocky final start against the Yankees, the team’s best arm right now is clearly Jerad Eickhoff, who was the Phillies most consistent arm last year. The Phillies have high hopes for Eickhoff, as does ESPN’s Buster Olney. After Eickhoff, however, veteran Opening Day starter Jeremy Hellickson is hit or miss, while Clay Buchholz has had issues this spring to go with three straight subpar regular seasons. Will Aaron Nola’s arm hold up? Can Vince Velasquez go five innings without throwing over 100 pitches?
The bullpen, which held things together for a time in 2016, looks improved. However, questions remain as far as the closer’s role is concerned. Jeanmar Gomez faded down the stretch, but as of now, Pete Mackanin says the role is still his. Meanwhile, Hector Neris posted some of the best numbers for a reliever in the majors last season. With the emergence of Neris, expect Gomez to be on a short leash. Veterans Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek should also help, while youngsters Edubray Ramos, lefty Joely Rodriguez and former starter-turned long reliever Adam Morgan round out the back end of the pen.
On a side note, how great was it to see Brock Stassi make the team’s Opening Day roster? Hard work doesn’t always pay off, but for Stassi, it did. Congrats to him. As far as the rest of the bench goes, Aaron Altherr has a history of starting off hot and cooling off considerably, but he’s no longer derailed by a wrist injury. A consistent Altherr, along with the veteran presence of Andres Blanco and Daniel Nava, makes for a pretty solid bench.
Final thoughts: There’s always lots of question marks with young teams, and the 2017 Phillies are no exception. Can we invest ourselves in these players the way we did with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard (whose 25 home runs the Phillies will miss, despite his overall drop in production)? Nobody really knows for sure. What we do know, however, was that the Phillies were dead last in the majors in runs scored last year, and their struggles at the plate this spring haven’t given anyone the impression that things have changed. The team had an outstanding record in one-run games last year, but if they remain stagnant offensively, their starters will have to keep games close, but they have also struggled this spring and are inexperienced as a whole.
I’m seeing more of the same this year, just because there’s no real consistency established yet. 73-75 wins. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to bump that up to 80 wins if they play consistently and their young prospects make an impact.
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Herrera photo: deepishthoughts.com
Stassi photo: thegoodphight.com