Odds and Ends: Jason Ferrie’s 2015 Phillies Projections


The Phillies have played their final Spring Training game and now are on their way home to begin an exhibition series prior to the start of the regular season. As we all know, and I believe, have accepted, the Phillies are at least a 90 loss team.

All hope is not lost, though. There is a perfect storm for the Phillies that could bring a ray of optimism to Citizens Bank Park. No, I won’t throw out a hypothetical trade, or say everyone is going to have a career year, but there are some several players to keep your eye on in 2015.

Odubel Herrera

This past off-season the Phillies selected shortstop Odubel Herrera in the Rule-5 draft from the Texas Rangers. In 610 minor league games, Herrera slashed .294/.354/.377 while playing between rookie ball and Double-A.

On the positive side of things, Herrera appears to be a threat for average and on-base percentage at the plate.

The issue is with his power, which is minimal. We aren’t talking Ben Revere level, but just a grade above that. Along with poor power, Herrera does not have a true position. While the Phillies selected Herrera as an infielder, he isn’t a very good one. Don’t worry, though, Herrera does have upside.

While many knock Herrera for being smaller and a Rule-5 pick, the Phillies have hit a home run in the Rule-5 draft before with Shane Victorino. I am not saying they are the same, but it is a case of how a franchise can under value a player and a team can scoop them up and give them a chance.

This past fall, Herrera played in the Venezuelan Winter League and captured the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Along with that, Herrera was a mid and post season All-Star for the Double-A Frisco Roughriders this past season.

On offense, the Phillies should expect Odubel Herrera to play similar to Ben Revere with a slightly more power. Now, I know some will disagree with me, but in Herrera’s swing, I see more power than he displayed in the minors. I think Herrera could hit at least six home runs this season (he has two in the past week). While his swing and stature are that of a singles hitter, the high leg kick of Herrera can create leverage when a pitcher makes a mistake.

On the bases, Herrera can be a threat, but does need to improve on successfully stealing bases. Last year, Herrera was 12 of 19 when attempting to steal a base, which is not great.

Defensively, I would expect Odubel Herrera to be slightly better than Ben Revere in center field. Yes, I am telling you that I expect a natural shortstop to be better than Revere in center field, and that is because Ben Revere was the worst defensive center fielder in baseball last year. I wouldn’t expect above average defense from Herrera, but I believe he is better than Revere in overall outfield tools (basically, he can throw).

My projection for Herrera: .265/.328/.354 slash; 20 doubles, 3 triples, 6 home runs, 17 SB in 26 chances and -5 defensive runs saved in CF

Sure, it is nothing overwhelming, but remember, Herrera is just 23-years old and he will be seeing some of the toughest pitching in baseball being in the N.L East.

Ryan Howard

Jumping to the infield, I believe the Phillies should part ways with Ryan Howard. This year will be Howard’s age 35 season and he appears to be finished.

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This spring, Howard slashed .197/.225/.358 in 67 at-bats. That is flat-out terrible. Of course, those are just spring stats, but his recent track record would tell us that things are not changing.

Philadelphia should appreciate what Ryan Howard did for them in his prime and no one can deny the fact that he was one of the best power-hitters in baseball, but that went down the drain when Howard went down in the 2011 NLDS with a torn Achilles.

If the Phillies part ways with Ryan Howard, it will allow them to work on the future, or hell, move Chase Utley to first. There are a variety of things the Phillies could do if they part ways with Ryan Howard. Eating $60 million is far from ideal, but Howard is delaying the process of other players in the minor leagues being at first base.

Since that doesn’t appear it will happen prior to this season, I would project Ryan Howard to hit .234/.312/.408, which is an upgrade from where he was a season ago, but still does not give the Phillies much value and certainly won’t match the $25 million he is owed.

In my projection, I have Howard hitting 18 doubles, no triples and 24 home runs. On defense, I believe that Howard will finish at or near -7 defensive runs saved (if he plays all season in Philadelphia).

Maikel Franco

The reason that I mention the departure of Ryan Howard is the hopeful upbringing of Maikel Franco, who the Phillies could shift to first base. While I believe Franco deserves a shot at third base, I would not be surprised if we see him at first base. I have some general concerns with Franco such as guess hitting and his defense, but he means much more to the Phillies future than Ryan Howard.

If Maikel Franco played this year in Philadelphia, I believe he would slash .247/.292/.431, which is better than I project for Howard. The on-base percentage is lower than most would hope, but Franco is young and still learning the strike zone. The .431 slugging percentage should be more of a focus as Franco has a lot of raw power. If he can manage a .431 slugging percentage, that would make a lot of Philadelphia fans hopeful for his future.

I have projected Franco ending up with 16 doubles, a triple and 18 home runs. My projection is also based on Franco getting close to 400 at-bats because of the eventual departure of Ryan Howard.

Cole Hamels

Now that I have covered a potential Rule-5 bright spot and prospect, I will move onto the Phillies ace, Cole Hamels.

Hamels has been rumored to be on the move several times this off-season and it will continue into the season. Hamels is one of the top-20 pitchers in baseball by most, and in my top-15. Last year, Hamels was second amongst National League pitchers in WAR, trailing only the Cy Young and MVP winner, Clayton Kershaw.

If Hamels can come close to the career numbers he posted last year, there will be teams calling for his service throughout the season. This year, I project Hamels to finish with a 2.96 ERA and 3.34 FIP. Along with those numbers, I’ve projected Hamels to throw 207 innings, striking out 202 batters and finishing with a 1.15 WHIP.

Aaron Nola

The other ideal situation in the Phillies rotation would be for Cliff Lee’s elbow to magically heal and return to his pre-injury form, but let’s be honest, Lee is done in Philadelphia. Even if Lee overcame this injury, he would have no trade value.

While the Phillies will miss the talent of Cliff Lee in their rotation, they should look ahead to their number two prospect, Aaron Nola.

A week ago, I examined the first Spring Training start for Nola. As Nola showed in his start, he features three plus-pitches and can locate with the best minor league prospects. Of all players in his draft class, Nola was regarded as the most major league ready, and that remains true. Some scouts believe that Nola will be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, while some believe he flashes number two potential. The Phillies need Nola to be a front-line starter in the future, and we may start to be able to see if that is realistic this season.

Projecting Aaron Nola is a bit more difficult given the Phillies rotation issues, but I project him to get 13 starts for the Phillies in 2015. In those 13 starts, I project Nola to throw 79.1 innings, finishing with a 3.52 ERA and 4.07 FIP. Along with those numbers, Nola projects to finish with a 1.45 WHIP.

If the Phillies don’t get Aaron Nola at least ten starts this year, I think they’re crazy. In their rotation right now, Nola would be at least the number three with a solid argument for number two.

When looking at the Phillies soon-to-be Opening Day roster, it is very underwhelming. At this point, we all know what to expect from the aging core and replacement-level players like Grady Sizemore and Darin Ruf. We even know the current and future value of Ben Revere given his limited skill set and defensive issues.

In the rotation, the Phillies have at least three below average major league starters. If at some point the Phillies deal Cole Hamels, that rotation gets significantly worse.

While all of this is going on, the fan base should direct their attention to the youth on the field because (hopefully) they’re going to be around for awhile. The future faces of the franchise could appear (I believe they will) in the major leagues in 2015, which is actually something to be excited about in 2015.

Next: Pat Gillick: Phillies Being Fair in Cole Hamels Talks