MLB Opening Day 2014: Projecting the numbers of each of the Phillies everyday players


Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While the excitement entering the 2014 Phillies season is at a level so low that I can only compare it to how excited we would have been for the Eagles if they had brought back Andy Reid for the 2013 season, MLB opening day is always a special day. And given that the Phils’ open up their 2014 campaign tomorrow in Arlington, I saw no better time than today to project the numbers of the Phillies opening day lineup than this evening.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz

 2014 Breakdown: After a rocky 2013 season that began with a 25 game suspension, the Phillies elected to bring Ruiz back on a three-year extension this off-season. While giving a 35 year-old catcher a three-year deal worth $27 million defies all logic, I think Ruiz should have a bounce-back year at the plate this year. His spring line of .267 with two homeruns and eight RBI’s, mixed with the fact that he started to hit well at the end of last season and is healthy now, give me confidence that he should have a much better year at the plate than he did in 2013. Hopefully he remains superb behind the plate as he enters his mid-30’s.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .273, nine homeruns, 44 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

First-Baseman: Ryan Howard

2014 Breakdown: I’m assuming Howard is going to stay healthy over the course of this season, because that isn’t really something I can project. Even with that, I’m not sure that there won’t be days where the Phillies are facing left-handed pitchers and Ryne Sandberg elects to sit Howard in favor or Darin Ruf. Howard has become virtually useless against left-handed pitchers, and his plate discipline has gotten increasingly worse since his rash of leg injuries. The funny thing about that analysis, is that I’ve always been a Howard apologist. He’s still going to hit some homeruns if he is healthy, but don’t be surprised if he strikes out 150 times in 400 at-bats either. (That is slight exaggeration.)

Projected 2014 Numbers: .241, 28 homeruns, 77 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

 Second-Baseman: Chase Utley

2014 Breakdown: Despite a Spring where he hit only .217, Chase Utley enters the season looking like one of the Phillies few certainties. Perhaps that just shows how putrid the Phillies could end up being, but Utley rebounded nicely in 2013, managing to stave off knee injuries and regain some of his power. While Utley isn’t nearly the hitter or fielder that he was in his prime, he still is one of the best players on the Phillies team. Hopefully Ryne Sandberg doesn’t try to play him 162 games, because his body will break down. 

Projected 2014 Numbers: .271, 16 homeruns, 64 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins

 2014 Breakdown: I can see two very opposite scenarios transpiring for Jimmy Rollins in 2014. The first would be that a Spring Training rift with manager Ryne Sandberg carries into the season, and Rollins performs like he did in 2014, leading to a very ugly exit for the greatest Shortstop in franchise history. The other scenario is that Rollins does what he needs to do to make sure he gets the team hits record and gets to the plate 434 times for his 2015 option to vest. His numbers will be better in that scenario and the the Phillies clubhouse morale will improve because of it, but he still won’t be worth his $11 million price. I don’t want to be Mr. Negativity, but Rollins’ approach towards the teams’ success seems to have rapidly declined over the past two seasons. A change of scenery would do him well.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .254, 13 homeruns, 50 RBIs, 23 stolen bases

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Third-Baseman: Cody Asche

2014 Breakdown: A rough spring for Asche didn’t necessarily concern me, because I view him as a guy who is just keeping the hot-corner warm until Maikel Franco is ready for the big leagues (likely sometime in 2015). While I think he proved to be a clear-cut improvement over Michael Young with his glove late last year, I think he is an average MLB hitter at best. He will provide some decent power, but I’m not expecting much in the way of average. The Phillies could do worse, but they could (and in 2015 likely will) do better.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .246, 14 homeruns, 46 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Left-Fielder: Domonic Brown

2014 Breakdown: Dom Brown might be the hardest hitter in the MLB to project stats for in 2014. It’s very easy to understand how some people think that late-season injuries and hitting in a poor lineup were more to do with his second-half drop-off last year. At the same time, a poor Spring, and the fact that Brown hit 12 of his 27 homeruns in May last year, are alarming to me. And I’m not banking on him having much better lineup protection this year.

I think he closes in on 30 homeruns this year (give or take a few), but I wouldn’t expect his overall numbers to improve drastically. I think the hope for his 2014 campain has to be that he is more consistent.

And I’ve given up on him in the field, except in the rare case that he can keep the ball in front of him and has a shot to use his cannon arm.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .278 average, 30 homeruns, 81 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Projected 2014 Numbers:

Center Fielder: Ben Revere

2014 Breakdown: The off-season idea that the Phillies needed an improvement in center-field was one of the most uniformed things that I’ve heard in a long-time. Granted, Revere isn’t a good fielder at all, but he overcame a slow start to his Phillies career last year to be the catalyst at the top of the lineup that Ruben Amaro gave up Vance Worley and Trevor Maye for, prior to a foot injury July.

Assuming he stays healthy this year, Revere should turn out to be one of the better leadoff hitters in the league. He gets on base, and once he’s on base he has the potential to be a 50 base stealer. He brings nothing in the way of power, but he doesn’t try to hit like he does. He gets on base like a leadoff hitter is supposed to. His value has a chance to be more recognized in 2014 if the Phillies “big bats” behind him do a better job of knocking him in this year.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .309, 0 homeruns, 34 RBIs, 44 stolen bases

Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Right-Fielder: Marlon Byrd

2014 Breakdown:For all the complaining that was done about the Byrd pickup in the off-season, he might turn out to be one of the most consistent run-producers on the team. The part that bothers me the most is that he is keeping Darin Ruf from being an everyday player, and I think Ruf would have given the team a bigger power supply than Byrd will. While Byrd may be the better overall hitter, and is clearly more qualified to be playing in the outfield, keeping Ruf’s power out of the lineup is something that is going to cost the Phillies in 2014. That said, Byrd isn’t going to duplicate his 2013 career-saving year, but he should have a solid season.

Projected 2014 Numbers: .274, 19 homeruns, 67 RBIs

Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

As you can see, I have no hitters projected to have over 100 RBIs (or even 85) in the lineup, which doesn’t exactly scream World Series. If the Phillies are seriously going to make one last push (which we all know deep down they don’t have in them), Ryan Howard is going to have to stay healthy, and him and Dom Brown are both going to have to drive in well over 100 RBIs.