To say that the Phillies have had a successful off-season would be quite the understatement. As we all know, the club has signed All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal without an opt-out that includes a no-trade clause.
The signing of Harper has put an exclamation point on one the organization’s greatest off-seasons ever.
Amazingly, the deal gives the club the financial flexibility to land New Jersey-bred outfielder Mike Trout in two years, as well as still being able to acquire another starter and reliever this winter.
An All-Star lineup
Now, the Phillies have acquired three participants in last July’s midsummer classic in Harper, Realmuto, and Segura this off-season.
This just happens to be the first time in Major League Baseball history that a team has acquired three All-Stars from the previous year in one off-season.
Add on stud ace Aaron Nola and surefire All-Star first baseman Rhys Hoskins, and the opening day lineup now features five possible All-Stars, all in their mid-20’s.
In addition, this does not even include the signing of five-time All-Star and former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, 2016 NL All-Star Odubel Herrera, fprmer All-Star reliever David Robertson, a healthy Cesar Hernandez, and a rejuvenated Maikel Franco.
The Phillies’ lineup features the best catcher in the majors and the most recognizable player in the entire sport in Harper.
As a result, the Phillies have drastically improved this off-season compared to last season.
Just by comparing the 2018 Phillies’ top eight with their replacements, it’s not even close.
The new look All-Star infield
Starting at first base, Carlos Santana finished last season with 82 runs, 24 home runs and 86 RBI. Very respectable. But, Hoskins, the now full-time first baseman, finished with 89 runs, 34 home runs, and 96 RBI.
What does this mean? Well, the team will get more runs, home runs and runs batted in based off last season’s production.
In addition, the defense in left field will be much improved with new left fielder McCutchen, a former Gold Glove winner.
Next, let’s move across the infield to shortstop. As we all know, last season was a struggle for Scott Kingery, who was learning to play a new position. Hopefully, this season will be a much more productive year for Scott.
Thankfully, Jean Segura will be a massive upgrade as a starter. In 2018, Segura scored 36 more runs than Kingery, hit two more home runs and knocked in 28 more runs and is better defensively.
But just wait, it gets even better.
Last season, catcher Jorge Alfaro was certainly viable and definitely has talent and a lot of pop. However, the Phillies’ new catcher is just flat-out better.
JT Realmuto, scored 39 more runs than Alfaro, committed fewer errors in more innings, hit 11 more home runs and knocked in 37 more runs last season.
Thus, the infield is vastly improved. Let’s head out to right field, shall we?
The new outfield depth
Nick Williams had his best season in the big leagues in 2018, with 17 homers and 50 RBI. However, the newest Phillie and their new best player scored 50 more runs, walked 98 more times, hit 17 more homers and knocked in 50 more runs.
All of these moves provide the Phillies with the much-needed depth necessary for a playoff push. Williams was one of the top pinch hitters in the NL last season. An injury-free season from Aaron Altherr, Roman Quinn and Dylan Cozens should round out a very talented outfield group.
Best of the best
What other NL club has improved that much? None. And how many can top the Phillies’ new lineup? Maybe the Cubs and possibly the Brewers.
Furthermore, out of those teams, none play in the NL East. On paper, the Phillies’ lineup is the best in the division and is right at the top of the National League.
In fact, it’s one of only two lineups in the National league that features at least two players with at least one MVP award and is one of only five teams in all of the majors.
PHI – Harper and McCutchen
MIL – Braun and Yelich
LAA – Trout and Pujols
HOU – Altuve and Verlander
BOS – Pedroia and Betts
What does this all mean?
This off-season was the winter of ‘stupid money’ thanks to Phillies’ owner John Middleton, who declared it back in November of 2018.
Thus, the front office did what the fan-base dreamed of and brought in Harper.
However, this does not guarantee that this team is World Series bound. The starting rotation and the bullpen pieces absolutely have to stay healthy.
Above all, a thrill is back in the air and the fan-base is as excited as it has been in almost a decade.
Just thinking about PA announcer Dan Baker announcing Harper’s name for the first time could send a chill down a skeleton’s spine.
Should be a pretty great summer down at the old ballpark.