Phillies 2021 Season Predictions: Realmuto, Harper, Bohm, and the Bullpen
The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be stuck in purgatory. They are a team that has a solid foundation of players but still need to fill big holes in the roster. This team should be a playoff contender but are on the brink of a complete rebuild and organizational overhaul. The MLB offseason has been dormant for most teams outside the San Diego Padres and New York Mets but has started to show some life over the past week.
Here’s what has happened for the Phillies this offseason:
- Dave Dombrowski is the new Vice President of Baseball Operations.
- Sam Fuld is the new General Manager.
- The Phillies sign reliever Archie Bradley.
That’s essentially where the list ends unless you want to throw in some mid-to-low level relief pitchers, outside of Archie Bradley, that would never be headlines if it wasn’t for the fact that literally nothing else happening with this ball club this offseason. In this situation, no news is bad news and as we continue to progress through January. The MLB has been trending that way for the past several years. Remember, Bryce Harper didn’t join the Phillies until the last day of February.
So until then, here’s a few predictions, both good and bad, to hold you over until the Phillies organization decides to make or not make a significant move this offseason.
JT Realmuto will re-sign with the Phillies
Credit to me for starting with JT Realmuto. We all know that’s the main reason you clicked on this article to begin with so it would be a crime to keep you waiting. The COVID-19 pandemic affected every team in Major League Baseball. This offseason, we are seeing the impact with our own eyes. Outside of two ball clubs, free agency has been relatively quiet up until the last few days.
The Phillies can absolutely afford JT Realmuto and desperately need him given his fit and success on this team’s roster. After Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported yesterday that the Phillies have indeed offered Realmuto a nine figure contract, it looks like talks of re-signing JT have finally started again. The number is reportedly above the $100 million mark which was discussed before COVID-19 forced all transactions to come to a halt last Spring.
Various reports do say that the asking price from the Realmuto camp have ranged as high as $200 million. Of course, the Phillies are not at that level but we can only hope that this new offer, which is bigger than the $100 million initially discussed between Realmuto and the Phillies is a nice middle ground to start the conversation again.
With the Mets signing James McCann for four years, $40.6 million and the Angels signing free-agent catcher Kurt Suzuki today, there are not many teams left on the table that have expressed interest in Realmuto, which leads me to believe that they are the current front-runner for the best catcher in baseball. The Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu today and there have been reports that George Springer could be heading to Toronto.
The key here is that there is a conversation happening between the Phillies and Realmuto and it’s bigger than where they left off before the world was shutdown.
Jetpax SZN Returns
Scott Kingery was given a six-year, $24 million dollar extension and hasn’t played up to the dollar amount ever since. Kingery has been basically position-less on the Phillies over the past few seasons and it has hurt his development. At times, his swing as also been problematic and has lacked consistency at the plate.
Forget about the 2020 season. The entire thing was a mess due to COVID-19. Kingery was no exception. After testing positive for the virus before the start of the season, Kingery missed any chance to prepare for the season. Add a lingering shoulder injury this past season to the reasons why Kingery
At 27 years old and a toolbox filled with talent, it’s way too soon to give up on Scott Kingery. Given the poor lineup construction on the Phillies there will be plenty of opportunities for him to bounce back this year. Second base will be likely, but also expect to see him at shortstop and center field pending additional offseason moves. The Phillies also have a new hitting coach in Joe Dillon. A full offseason to prepare for Kingery is extremely valuable and hopefully he will make the best of it and have a bounce back year for the Phillies.
Alec Bohm will be an All-Star Third Baseman
Bohm was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2018 and was called up to the majors August 13th of last year. At 24 years old, he hit .338 with a .400 on-base percentage in 44 games. He had four home runs and 23 RBIs. They were the most by any National League rookie last season.
What’s even more impressive is that Bohm shined with runners on base. He led the majors with a .452 batting average (19 for 42) with runners in scoring position. His on-base percentage with RISP was .519 – good for third-best in the majors behind All-Star players Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman.
Unlike the rest of the Phillies, Bohm dominated in September hitting .367 with 40 hits. Those numbers are good for fifth and second best in Major League Baseball that month.
In 180 at-bats, here’s where Bohm ranked among MLB third basemen:
- 1st in BA
- 2nd in OBP
- 5th in SLG
- 4th in OPS
- 4th in wOBA
- 4th in wRC+
It will be intriguing to see how Bohm performs this year with a full offseason to prepare and something a little closer to normalcy. If he can continue where he left off, there’s no reason that Bohm won’t be ranked as one of the best third basemen in Major League Baseball and be in consideration for an All-Star bid.
The Bullpen finish in the bottom five of Major League Baseball
I am definitely not going into detail about the Phillies’ historically bad bullpen last year. We have lived though and rehashed that pain enough. This year, I wouldn’t expect a complete turnaround for the Phillies bullpen even with the acquisitions of Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrad, and Archie Bradley. This bullpen still needs 2-3 more arms this offseason and it will be Dombrowski’s job to make that happen.
I am a firm believer that the best bullpens are built within and the Phillies simply do not have the talent in their farm system to do so. Connor Brogdon and Jojo Romero both showed signs of promise at different points last season and lord knows what Hector Neris will give you on any given night.
In the end, the Phillies bullpen will blow saves at a painful rate again this year and make us question our loyalty to this ball club throughout the summer, just not as bad as last year.
The Starting Rotation will finish in the top five of Major League Baseball and will not include Vincent Velasquez
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin will be amongst the best 1-2-3 starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. We all know what Nola and Wheeler bring to the front part of the rotation. Zach Eflin’s development last year was the best thing that could happen to the Phillies. Top prospect Spencer Howard will have a bounce-back year after not being 100% last year and ending the season on the injury list with shoulder stiffness. The Phillies still might watch his innings total but being the fourth pitcher in a rotation behind three great pitchers will benefit the development of Howard.
As for Vincent Velasquez, he will not be a part of this rotation by the end of next year. Although I stand firm in Camp Vinny, I just don’t see him becoming a starter on the Phillies. In the fifth slot, it’s important to eat up innings and keep an already struggling bullpen off the mound. History shows us that Velasquez has been unable to do that. He will most likely find himself in the bullpen and a pitcher that is not currently on the Phillies roster will prove to be reliable and propel the starting rotation into one of the top five best in the MLB.
The Philadelphia Phillies will be a Wild Card team
I know this one is a long-shot so please keep an eye on the universal DH and expanded playoff format that is still being negotiated. For the sake of this prediction, let’s just say the playoffs are expanded and the National League has a designated hitter again. If that is the case, the Phillies will find a way to sneak into the final Wild Card spot in the National League.
Please Note: If the Phillies get into the Wild Card, there is absolutely no team that would want to face the front half of the Phillies starting rotation. All this team needs to do is punch the ticket and then anything could happen.
Bryce Harper is an NL MVP Contender
Assuming JT Realmuto is signed and Rhys Hoskins is healthy, Bryce Harper will continue to build on two strong seasons with the Phillies and find himself in contention for the National League MVP. When you have a lineup where Harper is surrounded by Hoskins and Realmuto, opposing pitchers cannot pitch around him. Harper is entering the prime of his career and was fantastic last year before dealing with back issues the second half of the shortened season. There’s no reason to think otherwise, when discussing Bryce Harper, that a player of his caliber would be anything other than an MVP contender.
Make sure to stay up-to-date on all things Phillies this season and tune into Red October: A Phillies Podcast presented by The Liberty Line.
Mandatory Credit: Michael Reaves | Getty Images