Who will be starting in centerfield for the Philadelphia Phillies?
Last week, we all witnessed the Philadelphia Phillies making the moves they were supposed to make this offseason by re-signing JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius. As we all know, there are still holes on this team that need to be fixed if the Phillies plan on being a playoff contender this season. With Spring Training just two weeks away, pitching, specifically bullpen pitching, should be a top priority for the Phillies.
Outside of pitching, the Phillies have solidified every other position besides centerfield.
- Catcher: JT Realmuto
- First Base: Rhys Hoskins
- Second Base: Jean Segura / Scott Kingery
- Shortstop: Didi Gregorius / Jean Segura
- Third Base: Alec Bohm
- Left Field: Andrew McCutchen / Mickey Moniak
- Centerfield: Adam Haseley / Scott Kingery / Roman Quinn
- Right Field: Bryce Harper
Centerfield is a position of concern with the Phillies. Right now, it appears to be Adam Haseley’s job to lose. Scott Kingery is looking to bounce back this year after a rough going in 2020 and will likely serve as a backup centerfielder and backup second baseman to start the season behind Haseley and Segura. Roman Quinn will likely be used as more of a specialized, utility player. There’s also a chance that we could see former first overall pick Mickey Moniak in centerfield. I have him slotted in left field to backup an aging Andrew McCutchen. Haseley could also see time in left field this year if Moniak continues to not live up to expectations at the Major League level.
Haseley was the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. His rookie season, Haseley slashed .266/.324/.396 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 67 games. Last year, Haseley slashed .278/.348/.342 zero home runs and 13 RBI. Haseley’s usage was definitely down from his rookie season and it’s thought that Phillies Manager Joe Girardi is operating under the assumption that Haseley struggles to hit against left handed pitching. You could easily argue, however, that Haseley was never really given the opportunity to hit against left handed pitching and has earned his opportunity. That’s an argument that you would likely win.
Haseley had 82 plate appearances vs right handed pitching in 2020 and slashed .261/.342/.319 with 11 RBI. Against left handed pitching, Haseley had only 10 plate appearances, slashing .400/.400/.500 with two RBI. The sample size is extremely small against left handed pitchers so it’s hard to come to any conclusions but simply looking at the numbers, there’s reason to be optimistic.
At the age of 24-years old, Haseley has shown us enough over his first two seasons to be given the opportunity to start in centerfield. He has a strong approach at the plate and his defense is miles above someone like Roman Quinn who couldn’t seem to track a routine fly to save his life last season.
Kingery finished the year batting .159 with 12 runs, 3 home runs, and 6 RBI. Kingery was one of the worst offensive players in Major League Baseball in 2020. The same goes for his rookie year in 2018. In 2019, Kingery was productive, batting .258 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI. However, he batted just .230 after the All-Star break. Jetpax SZN battled COVID-19 to start the season and ended it with a shoulder injury in September that ultimately cut his season even shorter than it already was.
2021 will be a make-or-break season for Kingery. I am very high on a bounce-back year for Kingery and still like him at his natural second base position but there’s a growing chance for him to be the Phillies’ every day centerfielder.
Free Agent Jackie Bradley Jr.
There have been multiple reports that the Phillies have been linked to free agent centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. In 55 games last season, the 31-year old JBJ slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI. JBJ has a connection with the Phillies already thanks to Dave Dombrowski. In his career, he has been a league-average hitter with a .239 batting average and a .732 OPS. JBJ can provide some left handed power in the Phillies’ batting order and has hit 58 home runs over the last four seasons. Defensively, he won a Gold Glove Award in 2018.
Breaking it all down, the Phillies really have two options. The first would be to entrust Adam Haseley to take on centerfield duties and the second would be to seek a centerfielder (JBJ) in free agency. I would much rather give Haseley a shot and bank on Kingery as a solid utility player in 2021 and use any and all money to bolster the pitching staff.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz | Credit: Getty Images