Phillies: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview
The Phillies have been busy this offseason. They added a few players as they continue to rebuild. Are there any fantasy relevant Phillies players in 2017?
The Philadelphia Phillies are turning to a new chapter in their franchise. All of the players from the 2009 World Series roster are gone. The last remnants of that team, Ryan Howard, played his last game on Oct. 2. This is a new team and exciting times are ahead.
The Phillies have not finished over .500 since 2011 when they went 102-60. They went 81-81 in 2012 and the wins kept dropping from there. Over the last four seasons, they finished either fourth or fifth in the division.
The offense finished 29th in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage, 30th in runs scored and 24th in home runs. In a nutshell, this offense was bad last season.
The pitching staff was average, at best. The rotation finished 18th in ERA, ninth in WHIP, and 14th in strikeouts. The bullpen didn’t help matters as they were 28th, 27th and 16th, respectively.
But, this isn’t about looking back. It’s about looking for the future. The team has speed and power in the lineup and 25 to 30-game starters in the rotation. The bullpen is a question mark, but if one of the two options pan out, they will have a lot of value late in drafts.
Citizens Bank Park is a power-friendly park, seventh in 2016. The park, though, finished 26th in runs and 25th in hits. However, that could be due to the poor execution from the home team.
Like some other teams, the Phillies don’t have a superstar player ranked in my top 145. I have only five players in my top 250, but those five can help you win a fantasy championship.
We all knew the Phillies weren’t going to compete last season. As a result, the team was testing out young players to see how they would fair on the big stage.
This is why seven pitchers, all under the age of 30, made at least 10 starts. While half of them didn’t pan out, there were a couple of standouts.
Jeremy Hellickson leads this rotation. Behind him are Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez. There are a couple of others listed, but I don’t think they have any value in fantasy.
The Phillies traded for Buchholz in late December. He will be a veteran presence on a very young team. Plus, the move to the NL East will likely help his value. He posted a 4.78 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, and 8-10 record in 37 games, 21 starts.
Hellickson had a 3.71 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, and 12-10 record in 32 starts. He also struck out 154 and walked 45 in 189 innings.
Eickhoff posted similar numbers, 3.65 ERA, 1.160 WHIP and 11-14 record. He had 167 strikeouts and 42 walks in 197.1 innings. Both pitchers are high-end SP3 options in standard leagues.
Nola, a former top prospect, had a poor sophomore season. In 20 starts, he had a 4.78 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, and 6-9 record. His strikeout total was great, 121 in 111 innings. I am hopeful he will bounce back and we can chalk 2016 up to being a sophomore slump.
Velasquez sneaks into my top-60 starting pitchers. His 10.4 K/9 is what gives him value. At just 24 years old, he is more valuable in dynasty leagues.
Entering 2016, the Phillies had a question mark at the closer position. After losing both Jonathan Papelbon and Ken Giles, a somewhat unknown in Jeanmar Gomez stepped up.
Even with the poor offense and low win total, Gomez was able to rack up 37 saves with a 4.85 ERA and 1.456 WHIP. The downside was the lack of strikeouts, 47 in 68.2 innings. His numbers weren’t that great, which forced the front office to sign veteran Joaquin Benoit.
With the Mariners and Blue Jays, the 38-year-old posted a 2.81 ERA, 1.271 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 48 innings. If you look deeper, though, he struggled with Seattle, 5.18 ERA.
He hasn’t spent much time as a full-time closer. The last time he recorded more than 20 saves was 2013. I see him as a veteran option in the bullpen.
The sleeper pick in this bullpen is Hector Neris. Neris made 79 appearances and had a 2.58 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, and two saves. He struck out 102 and walked 30 in 80.1 innings. I would compare him to Dellin Betances.
I like the Phillies infield, but not enough to rank them highly in my overall rankings.
Cameron Rupp is the catcher and unless you play in an NL-only league, isn’t worth drafting.
Tommy Joseph is slotted as the first baseman. He has a lot of potential, mostly because of his power. He hit 21 home runs and 47 RBI with a .257 average. He’s outside my top 20, but could warrant a waiver add after the first week.
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez hit .294 with six home runs and 17 steals (caught 13). He would make a good off-day replacement or middle infielder in deeper leagues.
My colleague Brad Kelly wrote about shortstop Freddy Galvis towards the end of last season. He hit 20 homers, third-most on the team, 67 RBI and .241 with 17 steals. The pool of shortstops has gotten a lot deeper over the last couple of seasons. The low average keeps him outside of my top 20, for now.
Third baseman Maikel Franco is the only infielder inside my top 20 in their respective position, No. 19. He hit 25 home runs, 88 RBI, and .255. He batted 136 games in either the third or fourth spot in the lineup. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to see good pitches and drive in runs.
The Phillies outfield was a bit of a revolving door. Odubel Herrera locked in down in center field with 147 games started in center field. Peter Bourjos had 92 starts and Aaron Altherr had 35 in right and Cody Asche had 54 and Tyler Goeddel had 49 in left.
To shut that revolving door, the Phillies traded for veteran Howie Kendrick. He transitioned from second base to the outfield with the Dodgers. He will be taking over in left, forcing the front office to designate Asche for assignment.
The Phillies site lists Kendrick, Herrera and Roman Quinn as the starting outfield. Roster Resource has Altherr in right. I would prefer Quinn and his .263 average in the lineup compared to Altherr’s .197.
Kelly wrote about Herrera and if he is an emerging fantasy star. He had 25 steals with 15 home runs, 49 RBI and a .286 average. He is my No. 36 outfielder. He is the only outfielder I would draft in standard leagues.
The Phillies have some fantasy relevant players, but they are late round picks. Their pitching staff is young with upside. The same could be said about their offense. The players are all low-risk, high-rewards picks.
Saves can be drafted late, but I’m not sure you want Gomez’s 4.25 ERA, even with 35 saves.
Neris is my sleeper pick for the bullpen and you should draft him late.
This is another team with very little fantasy options, but someone could emerge has a must-have after the first month.