Halfway Grades For The Phillies
By Connor Thomas
We are now officially halfway through the MLB Season, and in many aspects, people are still trying to figure out exactly what kind of ball club the Philadelphia Phillies are. They have shown promise in a couple areas, elite performance in others, and as has been typical of the past decade of Phils baseball, there are plenty with room for improvement. Even though their work is still incomplete, it’s time to take a second to assign some midterm grades as the MLB gets ready to head into the All-Star break.
Offense: B –
The Phillies have been right around average in the National League across all offensive metrics so far this season. Of the 15 NL teams, the Phillies are hovering around the 7th to 9th spot in runs, home runs, average, RBIs, and most of the important offensive statistics. By all accounts, they are a middle of the pack offensive team. Coming off a season in which they were one of the highest scoring offenses in baseball, the expectations may have been higher, but the stats still indicate that the Phils’ plate appearances are not what is killing them this season. It’s important to remember that in this first half of the season, the Phillies are succeeding offensively despite having one of the worst stretches of Center Field production in the majors and also facing injuries that have led to rookies like Nick Maton and Luke Williams seeing extended time in the lineup. With a lineup that has returned to health, hopefully they can continue to improve in the 2nd half and get back to the potent team we saw last year. All things considered though, you’ll take average to slightly-above-average.
The Phillies defense has been absolutely abysmal at times this season, sometimes even reaching beyond the realm of what is expected of MLB players. The main offenders have been Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm, who anchor the corners of the Phillies infield as two of the worst defensive players in all of baseball. The pairing has cost the team multiple games, and the rest of their teammates have not done much to pick them up either. Sure, Hoskins and Bohm stand out as clear minuses in the field, but the Phils have also struggled to find a plus defender anywhere on their roster. Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius have been solid when healthy, but the outfield has been shaky and JT Realmuto has not seemed like his typical self behind the plate. If the Phillies are going to fall apart in the 2nd half of the season, the reason could very well come from their defensive ability. It has certainly played a part for why they are currently under .500.
Starting Pitching: A-
The best part of this season so far in Philadelphia has without a doubt been the starting pitching. Zack Wheeler has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, dominating hitters from pretty much opening day. Aaron Nola has not been himself, but despite some tough stretches, he has had some great performances at points. Zach Eflin has outperformed his projection as a #3 starter, and Vince Velasquez had one of the best stretches of his Major League career. Wheeler is the only All-Star on the staff, but the entire starting rotation has combined to be one of the best 5/6 in baseball, even without a plethora of high profile arms. There is still some more to be desired from Nola and whoever the long term back end of the rotation becomes, but it is hard to be upset with the performance of the starters so far this year.
The bullpen is just lucky they aren’t failing. They have been terrible again this season, following up the 2nd worst bullpen season in MLB history from last season with another awful first half. They have blown more saves than any other team in baseball, and haven’t been great at setting up saves or long relief either. Ranger Suarez has been good. Connor Brogdon still has shown flashes of potential. There are a few other arms that are about on par with expectations. These are the only things keeping the bullpen from getting a flat out F.