The Phillies are playing .500 baseball at the all star break, but there are some reasons for optimism. Their offense (finally healthy) started dominating as they took 3/4 at Wrigley Field and managed to squeak out a series win over the Red Sox, which isn’t that easy.
So at the All-Star Break, and just past the midpoint of the season I’m going to grade every Phillies player going position by position, and I won’t be including players that haven’t done much. (Because I don’t feel like typing about J.D. Hammer)
Aaron Nola - It’s been a confusing season for the (former ?) Phillies Ace. Nola is on pace to set or near his career worsts in ERA, WHIP, H/9 and HR/9. He’s also striking out batters at near career-high rates because why not? I don’t think Nola will be this bad all season, and he looked to be gaining some momentum late in the first half. He tied an MLB record with 10 straight strikeouts against the Mets, and looked to be cruising against the Marlins before giving up soft hit after soft hit. But I think Nola has better starts ahead, as the advanced stats paint him as someone who’s getting really, really unlucky.
Zack Wheeler - What a year for Wheeler, as so far this year he's one of the best human pitchers in baseball (I’m not counting deGrom). Among those human pitchers, Wheeler is:
1st in WAR (4.9)
4th in ERA (2.26)
9th in WHIP (0.969)
1st in IP (119.2)
2nd in SO (145)
5th in K/BB (5.577)
1st in FIP (2.26)
4th in WPA (2.9)
What I’m trying to say with all that is Zack Wheeler is a really, really good pitcher, and his contract looks like a steal. He’s truly given the Phillies an advantage every time he’s been on the mound. He would even be a Cy Young candidate if that other guy wasn't in the NL.
Zach Eflin - Eflin is a very fine pitcher, that’s all I really have to say about him. His stats are all ranging from average to good, he’s elite at preventing walks and has some high upside. He’s also on a great contract, so that’s nice at least.
Matt Moore - He sucks, not a lot more to say.
Chase Anderson - See Above
Yeah I’m not going through every bullpen pitcher and describing how much they suck, just a couple of notable ones.
Hector Neris - It’d be great if Neris could even be an ok closer for the Phillies, but he has wayyyyy too many issues to do that. His ERA is something like 14 since the middle of June. He’s just not that good, and it sucks for a guy who seems to be well liked around the team.
Jose Alvarado - He can’t throw strikes consistently, he’s not more than a setup guy.
Bailey Falter - I like him, he’ll probably be used in Ranger Suarez’s old role, and he’s done mostly well there which is cool.
Ranger Suarez - He’s currently the Phillies closer, and he’s had such a strong season. He just got a 7 out save and has an ERA under one this season. He’s been truly great wherever and whenever he’s been needed.
JT Realmuto - It hasn’t been the flashiest season for Realmuto, as he’s missed 18 games and gotten into a slump at the plate recently. But he’s still been strong behind the plate, and by most metrics is right behind Jean Segura as the Phillies third best hitter. The Phillies would be more than happy to have this version of JT Realmuto for the rest of his contract.
Andrew Knapp - He just really isn’t that great. He’s had some moments, but is striking out a third of the time this year, and has been mostly bad with the bat, and not outstanding enough behind the plate to make up for it. But, he’ll probably continue to be the backup catcher because of the Phillies weird situation with Knapp and the next guy.
Rafael Marchan - Marchan has seen time with the Phillies because of injuries to Realmuto and Knapp as the organizations third catcher. He’s been mostly solid (definitely better than Knapp) but he probably won’t see much time in the big leagues because as a prospect, it’s more beneficial long term to get playing time in AAA than to sit on the bench behind Realmuto. It’s a kind of purgatory, with the only role to a full time gig for Marchan probably being on another team.
Rhys Hoskins - Hoskins is a really divisive player. One one hand, his strikeout rates are at a career high, his walk rates have fallen off a cliff and he has an OBP that’s barely above .300 with defense that is well below average.
On the other hand, he’s 5th in the NL in doubles, is tied for 5th in the NL home run race and anchored the Phillies offense while Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto missed time. He’s had frustrating cold streaks and hot streaks that make him look like an All-Star. He’s one of the Phillies biggest X-Factors going into the second half of the season.
Jean Segura - Segura is quietly having maybe the best season of his career. His current wRC+ is 128, good for second on the Phillies. His On Base Percentage is also strong, and he’s been clutch, hitting multiple walk offs and being a reliable presence. Paired with playing above average defense at second base, he's been maybe the most consistently good player on the team this year, and looks to maybe be a piece the Phillies can build around, whether they retool or make a playoff push.
Nick Maton - With injuries to Segura and several other infielders, Maton was asked to fill in while rotating in and out of the daily lineup. And all things considered, he wasn’t terrible? He was about average defensively for a bad defensive team, and he wasn’t anything special with the bat but he was more than fine as a bottom of the order guy. Maton being even a decent starter would be nice for the Phillies going forward.
Alec Bohm - Um, that didn’t go as planned. Last year, Bohm was great with the bat, and showed real promise even if he wasn’t the most well rounded player in the league. Now, he’s hurting the Phillies. His errors are game changing in the worst way. His batting average has almost fallen 100 points. He’s barely walking. He’s striking out a ton. He’s not hitting for power. The Phillies want to give him an opportunity at the major league level but his play hasn’t been rewarding the Phillies undying faith in him so far.
Brad Miller - Every team that wants to seriously compete needs players like Miller, who can fill in at multiple positions and be above average in the batter's box. Bamboo Brad has been nice for the Phillies this year.
Didi Gregorius - It was a rough start to the season for Didi, having serious defensive struggles at shortstop and not swinging the bat how he did last year. And right when he was maybe starting to pick it up he was hit with a brutal elbow injury that kept him out of the lineup for a while. On the bright side, Didi has the whole second half to hopefully stay healthy and prove he’s more than just a stopgap.
Ronald Torreyes - You’ll hear the Phillies broadcast gush about him, and I feel mostly the same way. He’s a winning player who is surprisingly solid defensively, and fine as a contact, bottom of the order bat. He’ll probably continue to see playing time as Didi is rested coming back from his injury. He’s been a nice surprise this year.
Andrew McCutchen - For a while, it looked like the Phillies had another overpaid piece in McCutchen, as he struggled at the plate early while seeming to regress defensively. But since June 1st, he’s been outstanding, walking just as much as he struck out, getting on base at a high clip (.389), all for an OPS of .941, which would be one of the top marks in the NL. Cutch also seemed to round back into form defensively, and has had a great season overall.
Roman Quinn - I hope Roman has a speedy recovery, but he probably shouldn’t be your full time center fielder.
Adam Haseley - I also hope everything in Haseley’s personal life is ok, because that’s why he had to leave the team. But he probably also shouldn’t be your full time center fielder.
Mickey Moniak - He’s just not that good at the plate, Aaron Nola has a higher OBP than him this season.
Odubel Herrera - He was having a strong season but got into a terrible slump and is now on the IL. Herrera is fine, I guess.
Travis Jankowski - Pinch running aside, he’s also been a nice depth piece and been another solid but unspectacular bottom of the order guy.
Collective Grade: D+
Bryce Harper is underrated.
That’s what I want to talk about. (and also why I left Right Field for last) Just his numbers for the full season (.375 OBP, .891 OPS, 15 HR in 68 games, 145 OPS+, and a BB% in the 84th percentile) make his absence from the All-Star game unbelievable.
He has missed time, but that was due to a combination of injuries, most notably a left forearm contusion he initially tried to play through, and his numbers suffered as a result. So what if I just removed that stretch of games he played injured.
Is it entirely fair? No, but I’m trying to prove a point, and I don’t care about fairness.
I removed the 16 games and 69 Plate Appearances he was injured during, and here are his stats after that (with where that would rank in the National League in parenthesis).
Batting Average: .302 (T-5th)
On Base Percentage: .401 (3rd)
Slugging Percentage: .582 (4th)
OPS: .983 (4rd)
wOBA: .414 (3rd)
BB%: 13.2% (T-13th across the whole MLB)
You want to know the best part? According to Statcast’s expected numbers, Harper’s season long expected stats (even including the stretch he was injured) put him in even better company, ranking him as a top 10 hitter in all of baseball. It also paints him as someone who’s crushing the ball but getting a little unlucky about where he hits it, meaning he could have some positive regression coming his way in the second half.
What I'm trying to say is that Bryce Harper has still been spectacular when he’s been in the lineup and healthy. He is a true star in the league, and is worth what the Phillies paid him. And if Philadelphia is serious about returning to the playoffs, they'll need players like Bryce to continue playing at their best.
A couple of trade deadline additions wouldn't hurt either.