Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.20: An underwhelming bunch

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 21: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 21, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 21: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 21, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies are fading fast. With it, I’ll examine what’s wrong, and the one thing that’s right in this week’s Phillies Philes.

Leading off

The Philadelphia Phillies are not a good team. Their record indicates that they’re slightly better than average, but that seems like an illusion.

For a team in the midst of a supposed playoff chase, the amount of lifeless, uninspiring baseball they continue to exhibit is disturbing. Initially, I was hopeful that the team would go on a run and string together some wins, but at this point, that just seems increasingly unlikely.

The last time the Phillies finished above .500 was 2011 – also the last time they made the playoffs, bringing an end to the best stretch in franchise history.

This year’s version is on the cusp of topping the .500 mark despite their best efforts to do otherwise. It seems they’re their own worst enemy, in particular with runners on base and through consistently poor approaches at the plate (see Bryce Harper).

Or maybe the talent was just overvalued.

Or maybe there’s no leadership.

Or as I said at the start, maybe the team is just simply not good.

Bang for your buck

More from Philadelphia Phillies

Bryce Harper hit his 20th home run of the season on Wednesday night. It was an irrelevant one in the top of the ninth in a game they’d lose 6-1.

With the homer, Harper became the 65th player in Major League Baseball this season to reach the 20 home run mark. Did the Phillies sign him in the offseason to be average?

Harper has all the tools to be a tremendous player. His two bombs on Friday sparked the Phillies win. Yet it seems like there’s something missing with him.

And there is: about 70-percent of the field.

For a player that talented, it’s beyond frustrating that he refuses to attempt to hit the ball the other way. I’m so sick of seeing his right shoulder flail open as he tries pulling everything. How many line drive grounders has he hit into the shift? Well, not nearly as many as the number of times he’s struck out.

And while it’s easy to bash Harper, his stat line has been…decent.

The problem is really plaguing the entire team. Their approaches at the plate are awful. As with Bryce, can someone remind Rhys Hoskins that the opposite field exists?

I don’t get why this is such a problem for the team, but it leads to terrible baseball. Are the Phillies’ analytics telling the players to abandon two-thirds of the field? Is it the analytics that suggests the best way to score runs is by swinging for the fences EVERY time? It’s extremely frustrating, and I have zero faith that this team can turn it around because I don’t think they want to.

In the first year of his 13-year, $330 million contract, Harper is earning an annual value of $10 million this year. That’s not much, comparatively speaking. Next year the annual rate jumps to $26 million. With that increase, perhaps his on-the-field play will see a 160-percent spike in productivity, too.

After all, fans didn’t buy those No. 3 jerseys to support the 65th best home run hitter on an under-performing team.

On the brighter side

Since joining the Phillies from the Pirates, outfielder Corey Dickerson has been better than advertised. A former 8th round pick in 2010, Dickerson is batting .360 through seven games with his new squad.

A free agent at the end of the year, it’s possible the Phillies try to re-sign him. Harper and Andrew McCutchen will be back, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. I could see Adam Haseley as a valuable trade chip for a starting pitcher during the offseason, and Odubel Herrera‘s return is questionable. There could be a spot in left if the Phillies think McCutchen can man center full-time.

Either way, Dickerson always played extremely well against the Phillies. It’s nice now seeing him do so for the Phillies.

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 8/10/2019):

  1. Aaron Nola (SP) – Previous Rank: 2 (↑ 1)
  2. J.T. Realmuto (C) – Previous Rank: 3 (↑ 1)
  3. Bryce Harper (OF) – Previous Rank: 4 (↑ 1)
  4. Rhys Hoskins (1B) – Previous Rank: 1 (↓ 3)
  5. Scott Kingery (OF/INF) – Previous Rank: 5 (↔)
  6. Hector Neris (RP) – Previous Rank: 7 (↑ 1)
  7. Cesar Hernandez (2B) – Previous Rank: 6 (↓ 1)
  8. Jean Segura (SS) – Previous Rank: 8 (↔)
  9. Jake Arrieta (SP) – Previous Rank: 9 (↔)
  10. Nick Pivetta (RP) – Previous Rank: 14 (↑ 4)
  11. Zach Eflin (SP) – Previous Rank: 11 (↔)
  12. Maikel Franco (3B) – Previous Rank: 10 (↓ 2)
  13. Vince Velasquez (SP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  14. Jay Bruce (OF) – Previous Rank: 12 (↓ 2)
  15. Jose Alvarez (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week

Despite Thursday’s loss, Aaron Nola has once again proven himself as the most important player on the Philadelphia Phillies. The team is 16-9 in games he starts, and 44-48 in every other game. If that’s not a most valuable player, I don’t know what is.

In a Phillies season of uninspiring baseball and major letdowns, Nola continues to be the one shining star amid a roster of fizzling wannabes.

For your consistency and effort all year, Aaron Nola – go ring that bell!

Phillie Pholly of the Week

This goes to the Phillies offense for continuous poor efforts at the plate. While Phillies pitching has had its ups and downs with a depleted bullpen and converted starters-turned relievers, the offense has been mostly intact. Aside from Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera, the lineup has been stable yet through it all, Phillies’ bats remain inconsistent while under-performing.

This can be attributed to poor plate discipline, bad coaching, and overvalued talent. Mostly it falls on the players and their awful approach.

Remember when baseball was about getting people on base, moving runners over, and driving in runs through scoring drives? This was called a rally. Nowadays Phillies’ rallies consist of attempting to string together a bunch of solo homers. It’s infuriating to watch, and unless and until there’s a return to baseball basics, this offense will continue to disappoint.

Unfortunately, I have minimal faith this can happen for the Phillies. While squads like the Braves and Dodgers play team baseball and win as a result, the Phillies are a bunch of individuals playing for themselves with no cohesion.

And the losses keep mounting.

Phillies Phlashback

In today’s “phlashback” we’ll harken back just two years ago. Rhys Hoskins made his big-league debut on August 10th, 2017, and it took just four days for his first career homer.

And second.

On August 14th, 2017, Hoskins belted a solo shot off the PadresTravis Wood and would follow that up with another blast just three innings later. The Phillies would go on to lose 7-4, but the impactful debut of the Phillies slugger continues to prove nightmarish for opposing pitchers across the league.

On Deck

Following tonight’s finale in San Francisco, the Phillies head home for a three-game series with the first-place Chicago Cubs. In an exciting matchup, Cole Hamels is scheduled to face off against Aaron Nola in Wednesday’s affair. It will mark Hamels’ first appearance on the Citizens Bank Park mound since being traded from the team in July 2015. Hamels previously faced off against his old team earlier this season in Chicago, lasting four innings en route to a no-decision. The Cubs beat the Phillies 8-4.

Next. Phillies prepare to take backseat to Eagles once again. dark

Following the Cubs, Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres visit for a weekend series. The Phils took two of three from the Padres in early June.