Team preview: Philadelphia Phillies
1. SS: Jimmy Rollins
2. 3B: Placido Polanco
3. 2B: Chase Utley
4. 1B: Ryan Howard
5. LF: Raul Ibanez
6. CF: Shane Victorino
7. RF: Ben Francisco
8. C: Carlos Ruiz
1. SP: Roy Halladay
2. SP: Cliff Lee
3. SP: Cole Hamels
4. SP: Roy Oswalt
5. SP: Joe Blanton
CL: Brad Lidge
• Howard’s five-year home run totals: 58-47-48-45-31. His RBI totals: 149-136-141-146-108. Was last season a slump, or the start of a decline? Let’s hedge our bets and rank him sixth at first base, right behind Mark Teixeira and just above Prince Fielder. Nice job signing Howard to that huge contract, Phillies!
• A thumb injury sidelined Utley for about six weeks, and his stats were otherwise not quite up to par for him. His injury issues sound worse all the time, and he’s down to a fourth-rounder as a result.
• When right fielder Domonic Brown returns from his hamate bone injury, his power/speed package will be worth a look in the late rounds. In keeper leagues, Brown is a much more valuable commodity. He’s going to be very good. He had 20 homers and 17 steals in 93 minor-league games last season.
• Victorino is an underrated fantasy player. I’ve got him 17th among outfielders, and 42nd overall. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 14 homers, 96 runs and 32 stolen bases, while batting .281.
• Is there anything we really need to say about this awesome rotation? I’ve got Halladay first, Lee seventh, Hamels 18th and Oswalt 20th among the fantasy starters. If this team doesn’t produce the best record in the National League, they should be ashamed of themselves.
• Odd man out: This roster is pretty set until Brown returns.
• Top prospects: Aside from Brown, the Phillies don’t have any players likely to make the jump from minor leaguer to helpful fantasy commodity this season. If you’re looking down the road, first baseman/outfielder Jonathan Singleton could make an impact in a few years.
• Backup closer: Ryan Madson is once again the clear choice to back up the volatile Lidge. If there’s one closer-in-waiting to bet on in fantasy drafts, Madson is it.