The Philadelphia Phillies are being Overlooked Heading into the 2021 season and that’s Perfect
We are officially one day away before Opening Day. The Philadelphia Phillies will open the 2021 season at home against the Atlanta Braves, a team that is looking to four-peat as National League East division champions. No team has won four consecutive titles since the Phillies won five consecutive titles from 2007-2011. The 2011 season, as we all know, is the last time that the Phillies made the playoffs.
Looking at the Phillies Opening Day roster, the offensive firepower is evident. Lead by the $330 million man Bryce Harper and the Best Catcher in Baseball, J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies have enough offense to be considered a threat and playoff contenders. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case when looking at the national media and where they rank the Phillies ahead of the 2021 season. In the MLB.com power rankings, the Phillies are ranked in the bottom half of the league at number 18.
The Phillies have enough talent to outperform any preseason rankings. During the offseason, the ball club brought back shortstop Didi Gregorius, who had a great debut year with the Phillies last year, slashing .284/.339/.488 with an .827 OPS. Gregorius played in all 60 games during the shortened MLB season and had a team-leading 40 RBI. Realmuto, who also returned to the Phillies on a multi-year contract during the offseason, slashed .266/.349/.491 with an .840 OPS. He had 11 home runs and 32 RBI in 47 games last year.
The numbers listed above don’t even consider players like Alec Bohm, Rhys Hoskins, and Bryce Harper, who all had productive years last year. Harper just finished a fantastic Spring Training, batting .343 (12-for-39) with four home runs, eight RBIs, a .477 OBP, .771 SLG, and a 1.249 OPS. The NL MVP candidate will lead the team into the 2021 season in his baseball prime. The Phillies offense wasn’t an issue last year and shouldn’t be this year either. The biggest concern is pitching and if the Phillies have done enough to improve a bullpen that was historically bad last year.
The Phillies acquired reliever Archie Bradley on a 1-year, $6 million contract. Bradley, hailing from the Reds and previously the Diamondbacks, has been nothing short of a solid bullpen arm for the past few years. Notching 70 innings plus over three straight seasons, Bradley will start off as the setup man for the Phillies this year, with Hector Neris as the closer. Fellow offseason acquisition and flamethrower Jose Alvarado, will also serve in the setup role for the Phillies. Alvarado’s fastball sits around 99-100 mph and should immediately provide some power to a bullpen that seemed to lack resemblance of hard throwing arms last year.
Another new face in the bullpen would be Brandon Kintzler, who is coming off his two best seasons of his career. He converted 13 of his 17 save chances while posting a 2.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 81.1 innings across 86 relief appearances for the Cubs and most recently, the Miami Marlins. He was an all-star in 2017 and led Marlins with 12 saves last year. The bullpen as a whole has been completely re-tooled, just as new VP of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski promised to do in early January when he joined the Phillies organization.
- Archie Bradley
- Hector Neris
- Jose Alvarado
- Connor Brogdon
- Brandon Kintzler
- Sam Coonrod
- Vince Velasquez
- David Hale
As for the starting rotation, the Phillies may have the best 1-2-3 punch in the National League thanks to Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin. The two new faces of the rotation, Matt Moore and Chase Anderson should provide some veteran stability in the fourth and fifth spots.
Moore, a free agent signing over the offseason, previously played in the MLB for the Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers. Most recently, Moore has pitched in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and performed well. Most notably, On November 24, 2020 in Game 3 of the 2020 Japan Series, Moore pitched seven no-hit innings with five strikeouts. He ended the season with a 2.65 ERA.
Ignoring a horrendous 2020 season, Chase Anderson had been a productive pitcher in each of the previous six seasons with Milwaukee and Arizona. In every one of those six seasons he produced positive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and pitched over 110 innings. His best season came in 2017 when he went 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA over 141 innings for the Brewers.
The Phillies vastly improved their pitching during the offseason and made sure to bring back key pieces on offense such as Gregorius and Realmuto. Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm are both ready pick up where they left off last year, and we all know what type of impact Bryce Harper can have at the plate. So why are the Phillies being overlooked this year? The answer is simple.
The New York Mets went out and made huge splashes in free agency, signing Francisco Lindor and James McCann. The Atlanta Braves, who have controlled the NL East for the past three seasons, added Charlie Morton to their rotation while bringing back the majority of the same players they had success with the last three years, and the Miami Marlins surprised everyone by making the playoffs in 2020 before getting swept by the Atlanta Braves.
There isn’t a media outlet out there that is considering the Phillies as a legitimate threat this season. I couldn’t disagree more. The NL East can be won with a star-studded offense and solid pitching. On the day before Opening Day, the Phillies have made enough moves this offseason to at least be worthy of contention. In a city of underdogs, if it’s one thing our sports teams know how to do, it’s win when nobody else outside of the city limits is giving you a chance.
Tomorrow we’ll find out what this team is capable of at 3:05pm, when the Phillies open the 2021 season against the Atlanta Braves in front of fans at Citizens Bank Park.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY