Philadelphia Phillies Optimistic About Heading To Spring Training In 2017
By Dan Wanser
The Philadelphia Phillies used to be a force to be reckoned with. “The team to beat” started their historic stretch in 2007, ripping off five straight National League East Division titles which included two trips to the World Series and a championship in 2008.
Players like Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard paved the way to the first championship team since 1980, but that all began to spiral out of control when Howard tore his achilles tendon during the final out of the 2011 NLDS.
Since then, the Phillies have not broken the .500 mark and the players that led the parade down Broad Street have moved on to other teams or left the game for good; the 2017 team is not the team of old.
On Opening Day of the 2017 season you will likely see Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco on the infield corners and someone like Aaron Nola on the mound as they are the new faces of the franchise and will look to start the next era of Phillies baseball.
The last two seasons the team has been in a total rebuild, but with the recent offseason additions of veteran outfielders Michael Sanders and Howie Kendrick both the players and manager Pete Mackanin have higher hopes for this year – even if that means just playing at around a .500 level again.
“We want to have the opportunity to compete in every ball game, I think we have great talent.” said likely first baseman Tommy Joseph, “You’re going to win a lot of those, you’re going to lose a lot of them, it just part of the game”.
One of the main things that have plagued the Phillies the last few years and will need to change if the team is going to be successful is the offensive productivity.
Last season the team finished dead last in the MLB in Runs Scored, Runs Batted In, Doubles, Total Bases, and OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) as well as finishing 29th in Team Batting Average, On Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage; the team finished 24th in Total Home Runs.
The additions of Saunders and Kendrick should help these stats as they are both plus hitters and the protection they will add to what was definitely a subpar lineup last season will be key, but the main progression will come in the experience the younger players will receive.
From players who are turning into veterans before our eyes like Freddy Galvis (who hit twenty Home Runs on top of almost winning a Golden Glove Award) to younger players like Franco, Joseph,
Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, and Cameron Rupp, the team is starting to figure things out together as they build chemistry.
If this trend continues the team should be scary good in a relatively short amount of time.
“I think a lot of us have swings that are built for power.” added Joseph, “Maikel Franco has one of the best swings in the league…
Freddy Galvis hit twenty homers last year, Cesar Hernandez can get on base whenever he wants and that’s how good those hitters are”.
In order to try to spark the offense this season, the organization brought in Matt Stairs as the team’s new hitting coach.
Stairs spent part of his playing career in Philadelphia during the 2008 and 2009 seasons and is most known for his game winning home run off of Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS,
Stairs spent the last three seasons in the Phillies broadcast booth as a part time commentator.
“I’m glad he’s the new hitting coach” said third baseman Maikel Franco, “I think we have a good relationship with him, I want to learn everything I can about hitting…I want to do everything possible to have a good relationship with him”.
On the other side of the ball, the Phillies pitching has been the one thing that has remained relatively consistent over the years.
The starting rotation has led the way in this aspect of the game, and got a boost this offseason with the resigning of veteran right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and the signing of two time all star Clay Buchholz.
However, the most important member of this rotation moving forward is likely going to be Aaron Nola. Nola was drafted by the Phillies in 2014 and made his debut just one year later.
The 23-year-old excelled throughout the 2015 and 2016 season until he was sidelined with an elbow injury in August which forced him to miss the rest of the season.
He will now face his first true adversity as he attempts to rehab his elbow without surgery and get back to his old form.
“The injury was definitely new to me.” said Nola, “Right now I’m feeling good and my body is healthy; my elbow is healthy. I don’t think there’s going to be any setbacks.I’m on a regular schedule right now, and I’m going to try to be prepared as I can going into spring training”.
There is a lot of reason to be optimistic about the upcoming 2017, but do not let that get you carried away. The Phillies have a lot of reachable goals for this year; and a .500 season would likely be looked at as a major success.
Maybe it’s not the playoffs, but if this team can get used to winning and then expect to win in the future, there is a lot to look forward to.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thanks goes out to our “Guest Writer’’ Dan Wanser for preparing today’s featured post.
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Posted on January 24, 2017, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged 2008 World Series Champs, aaron nola, cesar hernandez, chase utley, Citizens Bank Ball Park, clay buchholz, cole hamels, dan wanser, Freddy Galvis, howie kendrick, J.P. Crawford, Jerad Eickhoff, jimmy rollins, Jorge Alfaro, Maikel Franco, mark appel, matt stairs, Michael Saunders, mickey moniak, NL east, Odubel Herrera, Pete Mackanin, philadelphia phillies, ryan howard, Tommy Joseph. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Philadelphia Phillies Optimistic About Heading To Spring Training In 2017.
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