PHILADELPHIA -- If Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins anchor the Phillies lineup as expected in 2018, the Phillies could have their best offense since they piled up five consecutive National League East championships from 2007-11.It has been a while since the Phillies got on base and scored runs in bunches,
PHILADELPHIA -- If Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins anchor the Phillies lineup as expected in 2018, the Phillies could have their best offense since they piled up five consecutive National League East championships from 2007-11.
It has been a while since the Phillies got on base and scored runs in bunches, but this roster has the potential to do it.
The Phillies averaged 4.77 runs per game in the second half of 2017, which ranked 13th in Major League Baseball. It was nearly a run more per game than they averaged in the first half. They also posted a .327 on-base percentage after the break. They can thank the arrivals of players like Hoskins, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro for that. If the Phillies can somehow carry those performances through the 2018 season they could have their best offense since they scored 772 runs in 2010.
MLB.com is taking a look at the projected lineup of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Phillies might stack up:
LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Carlos Santana, 1B
Odubel Herrera, CF
Rhys Hoskins, LF
Aaron Altherr/Nick Williams, RF
Maikel Franco, 3B
Jorge Alfaro, C
J.P. Crawford, SS
For the first time in a long time the Phillies have multiple hitters capable of controlling the strike zone, particularly Santana (.363 on-base percentage last season with Indians), Hoskins (.396 with the Phillies), Hernandez (.373) and Crawford (.356). if they continue to reach base as their track records suggest, the Phillies should have a solid base from which to work.
As much potential as the offense holds, it is just that -- potential. Hoskins, Crawford, Williams and Alfaro have very limited experience in the big leagues, so the possibility certainly exists that some of them will struggle or take a step backward. Altherr has proven he can hit when he is healthy, but he has to stay healthy. Franco has been regressing since his rookie season in 2015. This is a big season for him. Nobody questions that Herrera is one of the most talented hitters on the team, but he must be more consistent.
WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The Phillies have talked to the Marlins about outfielder Christian Yelich, who reportedly wants no part of Miami's rebuild. It still seems unlikely the Phillies will pry Yelich away from Miami, but their interest is legitimate, and crazier things have happened. Perhaps the Phillies and Marlins will get close enough in trade talks that the Phillies cannot say no.
If Yelich somehow winds up in Clearwater, Fla., before Spring Training opens next month, things will really get interesting.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.