Philadelphia Phillies – Predicted Finish: Third Place, National League East
Remember when the Phillies had as many fantasy players as any team in baseball? Not any more. Their line-up used to be filled with early-round picks like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence, but those players are either gone or fading in fantasy value. The Phillies now feature former prospects who haven’t produced like Domonic Brown and John Mayberry., along with some arrivals from the American League with limited upside like Ben Revere and Michael Young.
The pitching staff is still stacked at the top with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee, but Philadelphia shifted into rebuild mode last year when it made a series of deadline salary dumps so it may be tough for those aces to get their usual win totals.
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Rollins, Howard, and Utley are still fantasy relevant, but all should be going a few rounds later than you got them in recent years. Young, Revere, and Ruiz are the only other hitters you can count on this year.
At least Utley and Howard aren’t facing the injury concerns that left their start date for last season uncertain and forced fantasy owners to guess when they would finally take the field. Those two stalwarts combined to play less than 162 games last year, but should be healthy this season. Utley’s batting average has dropped in each of the past five seasons and his power is nowhere near where it was in 2008 either. There is upside he could regain his old form at a cheaper price this year, but more regression is more likely. Howard never found his hitting stroke last year while hitting just .219, but should bounce back to his usual .270 with 30 homers and 90 RBI.
Revere will get you runs and stolen bases with a decent average while Michael Young will bring a solid average, but his power is beginning to fade and a late-career switch to the National League for the first time could be a tough adjustment.
More on Ruiz later, but if you do grab him, just remember to grab a solid back-up because he is suspended the first 25 games.
|1 Starter||Roy Halladay||36||R||225||36||17||218||0||3.10||1.05|
|2 Starter||Cole Hamels
|3 Starter||Cliff Lee
|4 Starter||Kyle Kendrick
|5 Starter||John Lannan
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: The Big Three are still The Big Three even if many of the top hitters around them have been traded or faded.
Halladay, Hamels, and Lee are all Top-20 pitching options still in the prime of their career even if there were some struggles last season. Focus on their career numbers and their age and grab them if you can. Hope others in your league focus on Halladay’s ERA and Lee’s win total from last year and let them fall farther than they should in drafts.
Kendrick and Lannan bring solid upside late in drafts and auctions.
Papelbon is as solid in the closer position as anyone and it is nice to have a guy who isn’t worried about keeping his job at that position.
Fantasy Star: Hamels
Halladay is still considered the ace of the staff by most, but Hamels is the true star of the rotation.
He’s not even 30 yet and he’s posted an ERA under 3.10 in three straight seasons with an average of over 200 strikeouts while making at least 30 starts in each season. He’s getting close to being a top-five fantasy pitcher and if you have your choice of any Philadelphia starter, Hamels is now your top option.
Fantasy Bust: Ruiz
First off, he is suspended for the first 25 games after testing positive for amphetamines. Secondly, he is coming off a career year at age 32 that will be tough to repeat, especially given that the offense in front of him will be worse with Victorino and Pence gone.
He never hit double digits in homers before hitting 16 last year and he will not hit that mark again and the same for his 68 RBI. His average seems to vary wildly from year to year, but it is always solid, especially for a catcher. Just don’t look for another .325 season.
Fantasy Sleepers: Brown, Lannan
The classic post-hype sleeper, Brown was expected by many to be an All-Star by now but is instead entering his first season as a starter, although he will likely platoon with John Mayberry Jr. after the addition of Delmon Young. The Phillies want to finally see what they have in a guy who was at the top of most prospect lists in recent years. It’s tough to see him hitting much better than about .270 with 15 homers in a part-time role, but there is the potential he finally blossoms into the star he was supposed to be and gets closer to .300 with 30 homers and locks down a full-time job in the outfield.
Lannan felt he was good enough to be in the Nationals rotation last year, but the team did not so he spent much of the year in the minors. He’s better than that and he could have a chip on his shoulder to show the National League that he’s a legitimate starter. His career ERA is just over 4.00 and it was 3.70 during his last full season as a starter, so if he can come through with a career year, it could result in a 3.30 ERA with 12 or 15 wins.
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