Predicting the Phillies' Starting Lineup Halfway Through Spring Training
The Philadelphia Phillies have not exactly been dominating the competition as of yet, but we can already start to put together a little bit of a picture of what might happen during the regular season.
The lineup is starting to become a little bit more regular, and we can understand a little bit more about the way Ryne Sandberg is going to put together his lineup.
Although this certainly could change over the next few weeks, here is my personal prediction of how the Philadelphia lineup will look on Opening Day.
1. Ben Revere, CF
Ben Revere is flat-out fast, and he has the potential to be an excellent table setter. Last year, he only played in 88 games after injuring his ankle, but he hit .305 up until that point. He doesn’t draw many walks, but when he gets on base, he could easily end up in scoring position on the next pitch.
Charlie Manuel loved having Jimmy Rollins lead off when he was in charge, but I think that we could see that change for this season.
2. Jimmy Rollins, SS
I have to be honest. I don’t think that Jimmy Rollins is the ideal second man in the lineup. I think his power would be better utilized in the sixth spot. However, the Phillies are going to rely on run production from the middle of their lineup, and you want to eliminate double plays if and when Ben Revere gets on base.
Jimmy Rollins can handle that. He has power himself, and he has enough speed to avoid double plays and not kill run-scoring opportunities.
3. Chase Utley, 2B
Chase Utley always seems to bat in this position for the Phillies, and there is a definite reason why he does that. He hits for a solid average and a decent amount of power. Beyond that, he doesn’t strike out very much, and he draws enough walks to keep the bases loaded.
The question with Utley is obviously his health. He has struggled with that over the years, but hopefully that is all behind him.
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
Ryan Howard can be one of the best run producers in baseball. Injuries have also gotten the best of him recently, but we have to hope that is a thing of the past for him as well.
He really is a stereotypical cleanup hitter, and I can’t imagine Ryne Sandberg hitting him in any other position. He strikes out too much for the third position, but you want that power as close to the top of the lineup as possible.
5. Marlon Byrd, RF
Marlon Byrd was brought in to fill this position precisely. He was meant to be the right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup to complement Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown. It is hard to run three lefties in a row, and Byrd solves that problem.
He also hit 24 home runs last season, so he is no slouch when it comes to run production. He simply adds another powerful weapon to the arsenal, and he will do the job that apparently the Phillies did not think Darin Ruf was capable of doing (which I disagree with).
6. Domonic Brown, LF
Domonic Brown finally unleashed some of that potential for which Philadelphia fans had been hoping for years. He had always been a top prospect, but he had not been able to put it together at the major league level until 2013.
Even with that season under his belt, this will most likely be his position in the lineup to break up the left-handed bats. Perhaps that will change later in the season if something odd happened, but for right now, he will aim for another 27 home runs this year in the sixth position of the lineup.
7. Cody Asche, 3B
Cody Asche broke into the majors and played 50 games last season. He was impressive enough that the Phillies did not desperately seek to find a new third baseman, but he certainly needs a little more development.
That being said, he has a little bit of power already, and I would anticipate improvement as the season moves on. His average should also be expected to rise if his prior performance is any indication.
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
Carlos Ruiz could potentially be up a spot in the lineup since he is probably a better hitter than Cody Asche. However, it makes sense to hit him eighth in order to clear the bases before the pitcher’s spot. He hits for a high average, and if there are any runners in scoring position, he is a good bet to clear them off.
Because of his average, I seriously considered proposing that Ruiz ought to hit second, but because of his lack of speed, I guess this is where he fits in best.
9. Cliff Lee, P
Cliff Lee might not have gotten the honor of starting Opening Day, but with the injury to Cole Hamels, Lee is the only obvious choice.
He has consistently been one of the best pitchers in baseball even though his record has not always showed that. He is the right choice to get the Phillies off to their best possible start in the very rapidly upcoming 2014 campaign.