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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

3) RF- Bryce Harper

Justin: 330 million reasons why.

Who? Oh, that’s right, the Phillies’ three-hole hitter will be none other than the richest man in baseball, newly minted franchise cornerstone and 26-year-old right fielder Bryce Harper. Put simply, this man ushers in a new age of Phillies baseball, and his insertion into this lineup makes the Phillies a downright scary team to face on any night. Batting third is the logical choice for Harper in this lineup given his ability to drive in runs.

With Segura and McCutchen in front of him and solid depth behind him, it’s not as if pitchers can simply walk him either. Harper’s insertion into this lineup is truly going to create headaches for major league pitchers. In 159 games last season, Harper hit 34 home runs and totaled 100 RBI’s. He’s the lefty slugger that the Phillies desperately needed, and in Citizens Bank Park he’s going to wreak havoc.

In fact, according to Dan Roche of NBS Sports Philadelphia, if you take all of Harper’s batted balls from every home game in D.C. last year and overlaid them on top of Citizen’s Bank Park, all 17 of is home runs would obviously also be home runs in Philly.

But there would also be 9-10 balls that he hit that were either outs or doubles that would be converted to home runs at CPB. That makes for 27 dingers at home alone. Harper is going to absolutely rake in his new ballpark. Just sit back, grab the popcorn, and enjoy your new star baseball player.

Pete: Bryce Harper. The End.

In all seriousness, CBP has always treated Harper well and played a role in his commitment to this franchise for the next 13 years (but none greater than the opportunity to play in the greatest city in sports). In the three-hole, Harper presents a first-inning threat no team will be eager to face. For that reason alone, Gabe must place Harper in the three-hole.

All sports are mental, but baseball is mental. Slotting the newly acquired free agent in the position for a first-inning plate appearance immediately gives the Phillies the advantage, home field or not. Already with six All-Star games in his seven-year career that also includes 2012 NL Rookie of the Year honors and an NL MVP at the ripe age of 22, Harper will make opposing pitchers, managers, front office and fans shake in their boots.

You could make an argument that Harper would fit perfectly batting cleanup. And he would. He’s averaging 32 home runs per season and hit at least 20 out of the park in all but one season of his career. As Justin mentioned above, tack on an additional 10-15 per season now that he’s settled into the incredibly batter friendly CBP. Pure power should be hitting cleanup, right?

Harper’s also a solid contact hitter and will be a reliable source of early game RBI’s. He sprays the ball around the field. Corner infielders will be forced to respect the line due to Harper’s tendency to rope doubles down both first and third base. With Cutch and Segura on base and Hoskins taking dry cuts in the on-deck circle, teams will be forced to pitch to him. So while it may be tempting to put Harper at the four-spot in hopes of a possible grand-salami, you have to get him in early and watch the runs come flooding in.