Philadelphia Phillies: Is there any hope for Nick Williams?

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

In what has to be his last chance with the Philadelphia Phillies, Nick Williams is still trying to make an impact.

It seems eons ago that Nick Williams first came to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the package for Cole Hamels in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

In truth, it was only 2015. Still, that’s far enough in the rearview to ask why Nick Williams is still here. After that amount of time, someone has usually entrenched themselves in an organization or gone elsewhere, but Williams has done neither of those things.

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It’s not totally his fault, either.

In 83 games as a rookie, he hit .288 with 12 homers and 55 RBI. That’s borderline fantastic for a player’s first taste of MLB action. Maybe Williams set expectations too high, however, because his 2018 was disappointing in comparison (.256 with 17 HR and 50 RBI playing basically everyday).

But despite the downturn, you’d have to think that the initial promise would have earned him another crack at a spot in the lineup the following year.

Unfortunately for Williams, the timing was terrible, as the Phillies decided to go out and get both Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen after the 2018 season.

Hello, bench spot.

You could hardly blame the Phillies for making the moves, as they likely wouldn’t have made both signings (especially McCutchen) if Williams had done something like repeating his .288 average or bopping 30 home runs in 2018 to put the team’s minds at ease. Instead, he was quickly relegated to “spare part” status. He would have to prove himself once again.

But Williams struggled to even get any at bats. He didn’t start until the team’s 26th game of the year, and Gabe Kapler penciled him into the lineup only 8 times in the Phillies’ first 53 games. He didn’t help himself with a sub-.200 batting average at that point, but he wasn’t given a shot even after Odubel Herrera was suspended and McCutchen went down with his knee injury.

Eventually sent down to Lehigh Valley, Williams played well. He was truly in limbo. Williams was on the September roster for the Phils, but you hardly would have known it, as he saw just five hitless at bats.

You really have to wonder if the Phillies would have given Williams more leash if he was one of their own draft picks. I believe they would have. Organizations love every chance to prove how smart they are. Williams, even years later, is still suffering from being an outsider.

In the end, Williams is most likely one of the many “Quad-A” players out there, too good for the minors but not good enough to play regularly and succeed in the majors. The problem here is that it seems like Williams has not been given enough of a chance to shake that label.

Even with McCutchen still recovering to start this season, Williams is only battling for a reserve spot once again. Barring more injuries or some really poor play by the team’s other outfielders, he isn’t likely to be a fixture of the Phillies’ lineup ever again. This is just how things have played out for him in Philadelphia.

The best case scenario here is that Williams has a good enough spring or shows well in his limited chances early in the season so that another team takes notice and will actually give the Phillies an asset for him. That’s probably wishful thinking at this point, but it’s just about the only way this will end in anything close to satisfactory fashion. It’s already long past the time that the Phillies would have gotten even a half-decent return for him.

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Ultimately, the Phillies thought that they would get a lot more out of Nick Williams. But it’s also fair to say that he should have expected more from the Phillies. Where things go from here is anyone’s guess.