(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

We are officially half way through the 2022 season for the Phillies. After 81 games they sit at 43-38. It has been a weird first half of the season. If I told you Joe Girardi would be fired by mid-season, I doubt you would have believed they would also have a winning record. They went 22-29 before firing Joe and naming Rob Thomson interim manager. In 30 games with Thomson, they have gone 21-9. They went from far out of the playoffs, to now right in the mix. As of now they are tied for the 3rd Wild Card spot, with a chance to fully pass the Cardinals later this week if they can take a second series from them. Not the best of looks for Girardi.

With 81 games left, it feels like a good time for a progress report on some of the various Phillies players. Who has lived up to their expectations? Who needs to improve in the second half? And who has really let this team down? Let’s look at the best, and the worst, Phillies players from the first half.

Phillies Owner John Middleton Hobnobs With The Common Fan

Expectations come into play here. While someone like Damon Jones was really bad out of the bullpen, there were no expectations for him. So he does not make the list of worst players. Likewise if someone had big expectations, and has just been mediocre, they will make the list of worst players. Nick Castellanos, despite his struggles is still a better player than Roman Quinn. But since Castellanos was expected to be great, and no one thought Quinn would do anything, Castellanos has to take more heat than Quinn does. So now, in no particular order, here the the best, and the worst, Phillies from the first half of this season.

  • (Best) Bryce Harper

    Bryce Harper playing great is no surprise. He has been doing so for a good while. He is a 2-time MVP for a reason. And if it wasn’t for the fractured finger, he may have had a chance at 3 this year. He was limited to DHing most of the year due to a elbow. But he added more value to this team with just his bat than most players do with a bat and their glove.

    He hit 15 hrs, with a slash line of .318/.385/.599/.985 in 64 games. There is a chance this will be his 4th season with an .OPS over 1.000. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins combined have just one season with an OPS over 1.000. Mike Schmidt, has just two seasons of that. We are witnessing true greatness with Harper. It is just a shame he is out until late August.

     

  • (Worst) Nick Castellanos

    There were big expectations for Nick Castellanos after singing with the Phillies. He was coming off the best year of his career. And it started pretty well in April. But he really struggled since then. In June, his slash line was .223/.273/.291/.562. To make it worse, he is absolutely atrocious in the field. He has only 8 HRs half way through the season. And he continually comes up small in big situations. In 31 at bats with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, he is hitting .194.

    Castellanos needs to be much better. We knew he would be bad in the field. The hope was he would be the DH, but with Harper being unable to play the field, he has been forced into right. We will have to except his bad fielding when he is out there. But he is killing you at the plate too, and that is unacceptable. He hits cleanup, and ever since May he is an out 70% of the time. He isn’t walking, but to make it worse, he isn’t hitting either. He hit just 1 HR in all of June. That is not going to cut it. Especially with Bryce Harper out. He recently had a 4 hit game. Hopefully that is a sign he is waking up. Because they need him too.

  • (Best) Zack Wheeler

    Zach Wheeler was a good pitcher with the Mets. But since coming to Philly, he has been truly great. And despite a semi-rough start to this season after he was unable to get a single start in spring training, he may be having his best season. He should have ben the CY Young last year. And if it wasn’t for Sandy Alcantara being simply unreal this year, Wheeler would be in that conversation.

    Outside the first 3 starts, where he was essentially stretching out his arm, he has been a shutdown pitcher. As Buster Olney points out above, he has a sub 2.0 ERA since then. He has gone at least six innings with 2 or fewer runs in 10 of his 15 starts this season. Wheeler is one of the best pitchers in the league. Should they make the playoffs, tey have a pitcher they can matchup against any pitcher in the league. Plus, he is one of the few starters still capable of consistently going 6 or more inning.

  • (Worst) JT Realmuto

    We can no longer say JT Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball. It was an easy thing to say when he first got here. And it was something you could easily backup with stats. Now? He has a batting average under .250, and a slugging percentage under .400. His power has taken a big hit, and so has his defense. He is still the best catcher when it comes to throwing out baserunners. In 30 attempts, he has thrown out 14 baserunners. That’s an elite rate of almost 50%. Its the one part of his game that has not regressed.

    The concern is if this is the natural breakdown many catchers go through. All that kneeling, it wears on the human body. We have seen many great catchers start to fall part earlier than you would expect. Buster Posey and Joe Mauer went through similar declines. The Phillies probably hoped they could get him breaks with the DH spot, but Harper’s elbow injury killed that plan. He is not a bad player. Among catchers he is still pretty good. But they aren’t paying him to be pretty good. They paid him like the best catcher in the league. He isn’t playing like it.

    He has hit better recently, adding a HR last night. Hopefully that is a sign for things to come. But his season so far has been very disappointing.

  • (Best) Aaron Nola

    Aaron Nola came into this season off the worst year of his career. He was bad over the last half of 2021. To the point that there were serious questions about him coming into the season. But man has he stepped up. His last start was a bit rough, but before that, he had a sub 3.0 ERA. He has been right in the mix among the best starters in the NL. Nola has 7 starts this year with 7 or more innings, and 2 or fewer earned runs. He has held teams to 2 or fewer runs 9 times.

    He is almost as good as he was the year he was a Cy Young Finalist. And while he likely wont be one this year, given how great Sandy Alcantara Carlos Rondon and Zack Wheeler are. But he deserves a lot of credit for this bounce back. The true test for him will be how he pitches late in the season. That has been a problem for him in the past. But for now the turn around has been remarkable.

    The shame for Nola is despite how great he has been, he still can’t seem to get run support.

  • (Worst) Corey Knebel

    This is one example that may already have turned it around. Corey Knebel was a bit of a disaster as the closer. He blew 4 saves. Knebel had a really time finding the strike zone early in the season. But, ever since he lost the closer role, he has been much better. In 8 appearances since being moved out of the 9th, he has given up only 2 runs, and allowed only 2 base runners. So maybe it is unfair to name him among the worst Phillies players.

    But it is hard to look past his struggles early in the year. He directly caused 4 losses for the Phillies. 11 for 15 is a terrible save percentage. If he closed out just 2 of those blown saves, the Phillies could currently be a wild card team. he is beginning to redeem himself in a setup role. If he continues this, then you will be able to say he had a very good season despite the early speed bumps. But I cant ignore the fact they brought him in to close, and he lost that job two months into the season.

  • (Best) Kyle Schwarber

    Like Knebel, Schwarber started out the year bad. In fact he was real bad. On June 7th his batting average was still under .200. If I was writing this article a month ago, he would have been the first name listed among the worst players. But Schwarber did what he always does. He mashed in June. He was probably the best hitter in the league this past month. He hit 12 HRs in June, with an OPS over 1.000. he added two more last night. Enough to put him in a tie for 2nd in the MLB in HRS.

    Schwarber is a notorious slow starter. But he is back on track and doing exactly what you expected him to do. Hitting bombs, and drawing walks. It would be nice if someone else was the leadoff hitter, but that is not his fault. The batting average is still bad. But despite that, all the walks still gives him a good OBP. The fielding isn’t great, but you will accept your left fielder having mediocre defense. The Phillies put up with Pat Burrell in left for years. As long as Schwarber is bashing the ball the way he is, you aren’t going to worry about his glove. The only problem is they currently lack a great CF glove to make up for it. but again, that’s not his fault.

  • (Worst) Kyle Gibson

    The Phillies starters have mostly been good this year. But Kyle Gibson is not doing his part. He recently made history as the first pitcher to ever allow back to back to back to back homeruns in the first inning. It that was not an aberration. His ERA is only just under 5.0. He had a very good May, with a sub 3.0 ERA. Since then, he has a 5.88 ERA. That’s a two month stretch of truly terrible pitching. This comes after his ERA with the Phillies was 5.09 last year.

    No one expected him to be an Ace. But there was hope he could be a decent third pitcher, or at least a passable 5. But he isn’t even that. And if you were going to replace one pitcher in this rotation, it would be him right now. Ranger Suarez and Zach Eflin have been far from perfect, but they are far more reliable than Gibson.

  • (Best) Rhys Hoskins

    When Rhys Hoskins gets hot, he gets very hot. His last month was over shadowed a bit by Schwarber’s, but he was arguably even better than him. In the last 30 days he is hitting .337/.448/.716/1.164. He hit 9 HRs, and 7 doubles in that time. After starting the season really slow, he has been huge for the Phillies over this winning stretch. Especially ever since Harper went down. His bat has gone a long way in making up for that absence.

    There has been talk that Hoskins could be expendable. It is hard to say that now. With Realmuto and Castellanos struggling this year, Segura and Harper out, and them getting no production from CF, Hoskins is key to this lineup. Hoskins and Schwarber are very much carrying them with Harper on the IL.

     

  • (Worst) Centerfield

    The Phillies have been looking for a good center fielder, pretty much since Shane Victorino. That continues to be evident this year. Between Odubel Herrera, Matt Vierling, Mickey Moniak, Roman Quinn, and whoever else they trot out in center, no one has gotten the job done. Its a reoccurring problem. Some of them have played better in the field than others. None have done enough with their bats. To Vierling’s credit, he is on a mini hot streak. But with all the injuries he is also barley playing Center anymore. He has spent a lot of time in the infield filling in for Jean Segura, or giving Alec Bohm a day off from the field. But the other options in center are giving you nothing. Herrera is hitting .200 over the last 30 days, and is awful in the field. Moniak shows some potential in the field, but looks completely over matched vs Major League pitchers, especially lefties. And Roman Quinn was so bad he was cut.

    We expected Center to be bad for them, but they have somehow failed to meet our very low expectations. On many nights you are penciling in a automatic out in the lineup with whoever you put in center, unless it is Vierling. When everyone is healthy, and Vierling can go back to playing the OF every night, and he continues to hit, you could maybe get by in center field. But they are probably better off adding someone dependable before the trade deadline. An average MLB centerfielder, would be a massive improvement over what they have now.

  • (Best) Seranthony Dominguez

    Seranthony Dominguez’s resurgence has been huge for the Phillies. He has a sub 1.8 ERA across 30 innings, with 39 strikeouts. He has been pitching in high leverage situations, and has just one blown save, with 2 saves and 11 holds. He has been nearly perfect in his role. Dominguez s not necessarily the closer, but they often use him to face the heart of the other teams order. Most nights he faces the best hitters, and is still having this success.

    It is extra impressive considering what he is coming off of. He has barley pitched since 2019. He pitched just one inning in 2020 and 2021. For him to go from that, to what he is doing now, is remarkable. In face much of the bullpen around him has been good. Brad Hand has also been a reliable reliever. But Dominguez is the star of the pen, even if he isn’t always pitching in the ninth.