PHILADELPHIA -- The last time we heard from Phillies manager Joe Girardi, he said he spends a lot of time at night thinking about his lineup.
Phillies fans are thinking about it, too.
Girardi said last month at Citizens Bank Park that he sees shortstop Didi Gregorius hitting anywhere from third to fifth. But where does everybody else hit? Lineup construction is one of this game’s greatest pastimes, so here is one (almost certainly going to be wrong) guess at the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup on March 26 at Marlins Park, assuming there are no further additions to the roster and everybody is healthy:
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF (.256/.378/.457 in 2019)
The Phillies were 33-26 when McCutchen tore his ACL in the first inning on June 3 in San Diego. They went 48-55 the rest of the way. McCutchen’s injury is not the only reason the Phillies struggled so much the final four months of the season, but his absence threw the lineup into disarray. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler tried César Hernández, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Scott Kingery, Corey Dickerson, Roman Quinn and Rhys Hoskins in the leadoff spot. Nothing really worked. If McCutchen is healthy and returns to form -- the Phillies say he will be ready to roll when Spring Training opens next month -- he is the obvious choice to hit leadoff in 2020.
2. J.T. Realmuto, C (.275/.328/.493)
Segura might be the more traditional choice here because he historically hits for a high average and puts the ball in play -- Kingery also could work here because of his speed -- but Realmuto has been the better hitter overall. It just makes sense to hit your best hitters higher in the lineup. If McCutchen gets on base to start an inning, the next several batters could pop a home run.
3. Bryce Harper, RF (.260/.372/.510)
Nothing surprising here. Harper can hit second through fourth, but third might be his best spot. He splits up the right-handed-hitting Realmuto and Hoskins. Harper remains one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He needs to hit in the first inning.
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B (.226/.364/.454)
Hoskins struggled after the All-Star break, but he is better than that. The bet here is that he returns to form and does damage in the cleanup spot.
5. Didi Gregorius, SS (.238/.276/.441)
Based on what Girardi said, Gregorius is hitting no lower than fifth. Hitting him here provides the Phillies a right-right-left-right-left look among the first five hitters.
6. Jean Segura, 2B (.280/.323/.420)
Again, an argument can be made that Segura should hit second. Another argument can be made that Kingery could hit sixth and Segura should hit seventh. Kingery (100 OPS+) hit better than Segura (90 OPS+) last season. But for the moment, Segura’s track record has him one step ahead of Kingery.
7. Scott Kingery, 3B (.258/.315/.474)
Kingery had an excellent first half, but struggled in the second half. He still has loads of potential and there is no reason to think he cannot take another step forward offensively. Even if he opens the season hitting seventh, it is easy to see him hitting first (if McCutchen is not ready), second or sixth at some point.
8. Adam Haseley, CF (.266/.324/.396)
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Haseley will receive the bulk of playing time in center field. He showed flashes of promise in September, both at the plate and in the field. Offensively, this is the perfect spot for him because it is low pressure. Nobody is going to expect him to carry the load, which he shouldn’t need to do. Just get on base and score a few runs.