2014 Philadelphia Phillies - Lineup Overview
The Phillies have a team full of veteran players whose names you are likely to recognize. Some of these established cornerstones have more left in the tank than others. Let’s take a look at the Phillies projected starting lineup and see whose names you will want to remember on draft day and who you will be happy you forgot. Because much of where you would consider drafting a player depends on your needs and roster construction up to that point, I have listed my rough idea of where each player ranks for their position rather than a specific round to target them.
Hitter Projections & Fantasy Analysis
1B Ryan Howard 2013 Stats: .266 AVG, 11 HR, 43 RBI, .784 OPS
Injuries have drained Howard’s production in each of the last two seasons. His numbers last season were respectable when you consider he was sidelined in mid-July with a meniscus injury that required surgery, but he must stay healthy and get at-bats if he is going to return to fantasy relevance again. With the Phils out of playoff contention the team decided to sit him the remainder of the season despite an initial 6-8 week timetable.
Even if Howard can build off last season and continue to show that he has put the knee injury behind him, there are too many other dependable options at first base that have much more upside than Howard does at this point in his career. For me Howard projects as a late round first baseman who probably shouldn’t make it on your roster except in deeper leagues or NL only formats.
2014 Projections: .245 AVG, 19 HR, 70 RBI, .750 OPS
2B Chase Utley 2013 Stats: .284 AVG, 18 HR, 69 RBI, .823 OPS
One year after missing half of the season with a litany of knee problems Utley rebounded to have a productive 2013 season at second base. He is no longer in the upper tier of second basemen, but Utley can still be a contributor for you if you miss out on the upper tier talent. He would be an excellent utility option for your squad.
A key to climbing the standings in fantasy baseball is to get contributions in tough categories. Utley figures to give you average production in runs and RBI, and will give you a solid batting average with a high number of at bats. Where Utley can help you is with his power. He has the ability to reach 20-25 home runs from a position traditionally void of those HR numbers. If you end up with Utley as your starter, be sure to back him up with a high upside player to complement his injury risk.
2014 Projections: .280 AVG, 22 HR, 65 RBI, .800 OPS
SS Jimmy Rollins 2013 Stats: .252 AVG, 6 HR, 39 RBI, .667 OPS
Entering his fourteenth full-time season in the big leagues Rollins is a better Major Leaguer than a fantasy player. While veteran leaders in the clubhouse are valuable on each team, no fantasy leagues award points for inspirational speeches. Rollins will contribute a little in each category for your fantasy team, but he doesn’t do anything well enough to be considered a plus talent. I expect a slight bounce back, after a down 2013, but you should only expect replacement level stats from Rollins in 2014.
2014 Projections: .268 AVG, 10 HR, 58 RBI, .700 OPS
3B Cody Asche 2013 Stats: .235 AVG, 5 HR, 22 RBI, .691 OPS
Asche is expected to step in as the Phillies’ starting third baseman in 2014 after Michael Young was traded away at the deadline last season. In limited duty last season Asche was overmatched. In his time in the minors Asche gained a reputation as a great hitter for average, but his power is still a work in progress. You shouldn’t be calling his name on draft day just yet, but keep a close eye on him because when he adjusts to the pro game the hits will start coming. The organization’s top prospect Maikel Franco also mans the hot corner, but he is a season or more away from the big leagues, and he has been getting some work in at first base in case Howard is sidelined long term with another injury.
2014 Projections: .270 AVG, 16 HR, 52 RBI, .745 OPS
C Carlos Ruiz 2013 Stats: .268 AVG, 5 HR, 37 RB, .688 OPS
After a breakout season in 2012 Ruiz had his season delayed by a PED related suspension in 2013 and he never got on track after finally returning in late April. Ruiz will give you an above average batting average, but he is sub-par everywhere else. If you play in a two catcher league, Ruiz is an above average 2nd catcher, but don’t expect a repeat of his 2012 campaign.
2014 Projections: .280 AVG, 10 HR. 48 RBI, .745 OPS
LF Domonic Brown 2013 Stats: .272 AVG, 27 HR. 83 RBI, .818 OPS
After claiming Baseball America’s Top Prospect honors for the Phillies organization for three straight seasons, Brown delivered on the lofty expectations in 2013. The twenty-six year old will hold down left field and projects as a top 20-25 outfielder in fantasy circles. Brown had never approached the twenty-seven long balls he smacked last season, but the production could be the result of a matured approach at the plate, though a slight regression wouldn’t be a big surprise either. Known more for his average than his power, any drop off in home runs will likely be offset by a climb in his batting average. The tall, rangy outfielder could reward his owners with a few more stolen bases like he did while working his way through the minors.
2014 Projections: .285 AVG, 24 HR, 90 RBI, .835 OPS
CF Ben Revere 2013 Stats: .305 AVG, 0 HR, 17 RBI, .691 OPS
After being traded to the Phils from the Twins, Revere immediately earned a starting job and spot at the top of the batting order. Injury after injury derailed his season and he struggled to be productive despite a nice .305 batting average. The lack of power and overall production make Revere only a late round flier for steals. His outlook in 2014 will depend largely on his spot in the batting order. If he claims the leadoff spot he will have much more value than if he is relegated to the bottom of the order. I’m not spending a late round draft pick on this one trick pony. Spend those picks on high upside lottery tickets and find some cheap steals on the waiver wire.
2014 Projections: .290 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI, .680 OPS
RF Marlon Byrd 2013 Stats: .291 AVG, 24 HR, 88 RBI, .847 OPS
The Phillies went in to the offseason looking to add a strong bat to their lineup. Players like Nelson Cruz were on their wish list, but financial restrictions lead them to settle on thirty-six year old Marlon Byrd for a two-year deal. Byrd is coming off a career season and it is hard to imagine him repeating last year's success. Byrd is worth being drafted, but on the heels of his great season he will likely be overvalued. Target him in the range of a 55-60 outfielder and don’t reach and overpay for last season’s stats.
2014 Projections: .275 AVG, 18 HR, 68 RBI, .750 OPS
Overall, the Phillies offense offers little for fantasy owners to get excited about, and even less in the form of upside. But just because they won’t have second and third year players scattered in their lineup it doesn’t mean they don’t have players that can contribute to your team. Remember you are spending your picks on what you project the player to do this season; you are not buying a name or stats from seasons gone by.
Next week we will take a look at what the Phillies have to offer from their pitching staff and how they need to fit in to your fantasy plans.