Phillies May Have A Pair of All-Stars


The Philadelphia Phillies are on their way to a historically bad season, which basically hit rock bottom the other night against the Baltimore Orioles. That does not mean that each individual on the team is so bad that you cannot watch and enjoy respective talents. Well, technically that isn’t true because the rest of the team is so bad, but you get where I am going with that. The National League All-Star ballot still does not have a Philadelphia Phillies player in the top-five at any position, and not in the top-15 in the outfield. That shouldn’t matter though, because the Phillies have a duo of All-Stars on their current roster.

I know, I know, how could a team this bad manage to send multiple players to the All-Star game? Well, they can send them because they are two of the best at their respective position. Both of these guys have been to an All-Star game before, so it would not be a surprise to see them return to the event. Last year the Phillies sent Chase Utley, but we all know that won’t be happening this year.

This year, the Phillies could very well send their ace, Cole Hamels, to the All-Star game. This is one of the two selections that make sense because Hamels has been an elite pitcher aside from his first four-to-five starts this year. Through 14 starts this season, Hamels has a 2.96 ERA, which is 23rd in all of baseball and 12th in the National League. Hamels is also second in the National League in innings pitched while averaging 9.83 strikeouts per nine innings—which is seventh best in the N.L. The knock on Hamels would be the home runs he has surrendered this year, which is elevated, but if we use xFIP, which assumes 10.5-percent of fly balls are home runs—Hamels has the tenth best xFIP in the N.L.

While there are some very good candidates on the mound for the National League, it would benefit them to have Hamels on the team. It doesn’t hurt Hamels that the Phillies need to have at least one All-Star, which makes him an easier selection.

The second All-Star candidate that the Phillies have is closer Jonathan Papelbon. The National League is filled with very good relievers, but some are having down years, which may open the door for Papelbon. The off-the-field antics, and a crotch grab here and there, has earned Papelbon the reputation as a jerk (I can’t say what most think), but luckily, that won’t matter here.

This year, Papelbon has yet again, been very good. Many believed that the velocity drop-off was something that would lead to the demise of Papelbon, but it hasn’t. In fact, he has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball the last few seasons. Papelbon currently has the fourth best ERA among N.L relievers at 1.30 in 27 games. While his FIP and xFIP numbers are slightly higher, one could believe that the ERA is legitimate. Last year, Papelbon surrendered home runs on just 2.7-percent of fly balls. That is extremely low, but his career 6.9-percent is the best area to judge him. Right now, he is giving up home runs on 9.5-percent of fly balls, so there was some regression from 2014.

The area where Papelbon has been surprisingly great is strikeout-rate. In 2013 and 2014, Papelbon saw his strikeouts per nine dip to 8.32 and 8.55, respectively. This season, Papelbon is striking out 10.41 batters per nine innings, which is 16th among N.L relievers. Basically, Papelbon has been very good this season. Anytime a reliever averages over 10 strikeouts per nine, they are doing something right, and dominant. There will be several relievers who miss the All-Star game despite their very good numbers, and I think Papelbon could end up on that list. Right now, I would send Trevor Rosenthal, Aroldis Chapman, Drew Storen and Jeurys Familia. Right after those four, I would send Papelbon and then Francisco Rodriguez.

When the clock strikes midnight on the All-Star voting, the Phillies won’t send a position player to the All-Star game. Their representative will come from their pitching staff, and will be either Hamels or Papelbon—maybe even both. These are two of the Philadelphia’s biggest trade chips and they are both having very good seasons. I believe the lock for the All-Star game is Hamels at this point, but there is a legitimate case to send both Hamels and Papelbon to the All-Star game in Cincinnati.

Next: Cole Hamels Reportedly Interested in Joining Four Teams via Trade

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