Phillies baseball is only two sleeps away. Feels weird, feels like last season never even really happened. Wish last season never happened. The bullpen was the worst in league history basically. There was no lead that was safe. Up 5 runs in the 9th, loss. Up 10 going into the 8th, loss. There was no hope. Buuuutttt that’s all behind us, new year new me, new Phillies squad.
New year also means diving into way too many power rankings and other nonsense. Let’s start with good old ESPN.
ESPN: Phillies – 16
Projected record: 76-86 (7.1% playoff odds)
Best case: Dave Dombrowski knows his stuff. The Phillies’ horror-show 2020 bullpen turns out to be something you can watch without a blindfold in 2021. The rotation finds a quality third wheel behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. And Bryce Harper reminds everyone of why he was once projected as a perennial MVP candidate. The Phillies win 90 games and edge the Mets and Nationals for a wild card. — Doolittle
Worst case: The sum is still way less than the parts. Harper is fine but not transcendent. Alec Bohm commits 46 errors. And the team defense shows the range of your average foosball table. The Phils flop to 68 wins and a back seat to the Marlins in the East. — Doolittle
Most exciting player: Sure, maybe Bryce Harper has been overhyped relative to his standing among the best players in the game, but he’s not exactly a player where you head to the bathroom when he’s coming up. Simply, he has that “it” factor: the presence, the hair, the energy, the cool cleats, the ability to play to the crowd. — Schoenfield
Schoenfield’s bold prediction: Harper has a huge season with 44 home runs and .430 OBP, but it’s not enough to get the Phillies into the postseason (poor Joe Girardi has to churn through five different closers).
Two years ago today, Bryce Harper homered for the first time as a Phillie. pic.twitter.com/nOE4f8uVJs
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) March 30, 2021
So ESPN has them having basically the exact same win percentage as last year when they went 28-32, which is roughly 46%. Ehhhhhhhhh. I don’t buy it. This team certainly didn’t get any worse this offseason and I think got better at their worst position which is the bullpen. You add a guy like Archie Bradley that is going to give the back half of that bullpen some confidence. You also finally move Vinny to the bullpen full time. This is his last chance year. If he can’t get his shit together he’s gone. So a lot at stake for him. And I like the addition of Matt Moore to the rotation.
This team is going to give flashbacks to 2006 and 2007 seasons. In that I mean they are going to put up a lot of runs and give up a lot as well. They are going to have to slug their way to victory if they want to get into the post season. But I think it can be done, especially when you bring back an infield that is complete. Bohm is a monster and going to go off this year, Segura is a professional hitter. And I know that sounds weird because he’s in the majors, of course but you need a guy that can hit for average to solidify the lineup and get the power hitters pitches. We know what Didi can do and Rhys is the only one that has to step up. We don’t need him back to that run he had in 2017 but we can’t have him where he was the last two season. He needs to wake up and become a dangerous part of this line up again.
With all that and a little luck staying healthy, I don’t see how this team remains flat or take a step back. The toughest road for them this year will be getting through the NL East. It is going to be the best division in baseball. I don’t care about the NL West. The East is tougher top down and I won’t hear any different.
So bring on Thursday, can’t wait for Phillies baseball to be back and hopefully Bryce Harper gets his first career postseason series win this year. Because if not, boy oh boy. That is a tough pill to swallow for a guy that came here to win.