Philadelphia Phillies: Predicting the Phillies opening day lineup

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Phillies
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

2) SS Jean Segura

Justin: Hits like a lead-off man and doesn’t lack for speed either. He’ll be terrific with runners in scoring position and a perfect set up for the Harper-Hoskins-Realmuto triple threat. 

Thought of by many as another candidate to lead off for the Phillies after a surprise acquisition by general manager Matt Klentak, Jean Segura would be a threat as either the lead-off man or the two-hole hitter. With McCutchen’s consistent hitting leading to on-base opportunities, pitchers would need to be careful with Segura knowing what lies behind him.

Segura is a hitting machine. He just finished up his third straight season of batting over .300. He’s had 538 hits over that three years span, including 203 in 2016. This would be a great spot for Segura, as pitchers would need to choose their pitches carefully knowing the Phillies’ power hitters are likely to follow. Segura will see plenty of pitches in the two spot, and with over 600 plate appearances last season, he’s going to be in line for more prime production in 2019.

This was such a good grab by Klentak. The Phillies desperately needed guys who can just flat-out hit, and Segura is that type of guy. I imagine he’ll get moved up and down the lineup as injuries and slumps occur because his versatility is something Gabe Kapler can use to plug holes in the lineup. Don’t be surprised if you see him hitting in the 6 or 7 spots here and there, but he’s a legitimate staple in the top five.

Pete: With the characteristics of a lead-off man and a consistent contact hitter, the All-Star shortstop adds a second speed demon on the base-paths out of the gate.

Man, am I glad the J.P. Crawford experience is over. No hard feelings towards him, but the mediocre fielding and an abysmal black-hole at the plate was far from the expectations fans set for a highly touted prospect. Much like his ability at the plate, Crawford acted as a vacuum, sucking the life out of hopeful Phillies fans one at-bat at a time. All was not lost with J.P., and the Phillies R.O.I. for Crawford comes in the form of a two-time All-Star who might surpass the output that fans desired of the former top prospect in the farm system.

Jean Segura has the makeup and numbers of a lead-off man. As I write this I wonder, “would it be better to have Segura at the top of the order?” As Justin mentioned, he’s the Henry Ford of batters, producing hits at a massively consistent rate. He’s good for anywhere from 150-200 hits a year, and I think he’ll reach the higher end of that scale in this lineup. He’s entered the .300 level in each of his last three seasons, his strikeouts are few and far between, and he’s a thief in broad daylight (or really bright stadium lights) on the base paths. All the makings of a great lead-off hitter.

So why slot him second in the order? Because leadoff is the safe play. Gabe wasn’t afraid to take a different approach to the game last year and, though I hope he finds a happy medium between analytics and a set-in-stone everyday lineup, this situation presents an opportunity for Kapler to flex his rather visible muscles. Placing Segura in the two-hole opens the door for endless possibilities.

If Cutch smacks a double into the gap to start the game off, Segura’s contact approach along with Cutch’s still-existent speed almost guarantees a run for the Phils and an RBI for Segura. With a runner rounding third, the outfielder is forced to decide where to throw the ball. If they decide to test Cutch, Segura advances to second and into scoring position. If they play it safe, Cutch scores with ease.

In times that Cutch works the count and draws a walk to lead off the game, Segura comes in to poke one into the outfield.  Cutch can advance to third and with the pitcher forced to focus on the next batter (and I mean forced), Segura can go ahead and swipe second, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs and three sluggers in a row with a shot to knock them in.

If Cutch romps the opening pitch out of the stadium, Segura can now serve as a traditional lead-off hitter to start another rally. No matter how it plays out, Segura in the two allows a greater home run threat to lead off the game and provides a safety net of contact and speed to follow.