Last season was horrible for the Philadelphia Phillies. The team finished in last place in the National League East, 31 games back of the Washington Nationals. But they have made significant changes across the board since the season ended, removing Pete Mackanin from as manager and going with former major league outfielder Gabe Kapler in his place.
Kapler and the front office made changes to the coaching staff, one of which was the removal of Matt Stairs as hitting coach. He was replaced by former Chicago Cubs hitting coach John Mallee.
The Phillies’ offense was one of the worst in Major League Baseball. The lineup posted a .723 OPS and hit 174 home runs, both of which ranked 26th among baseball’s 30 teams. The team went out and signed former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, who had been a rather effective bat in Cleveland and should be a solid fit in Philadelphia. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs in 667 plate appearances. Steamer projects that he’ll hit 28 home runs in 594 plate appearances this year with a .255/.372/.484 line.
Rhys Hoskins will also be pivotal to the Phillies’ success this year. In 2017, he spent most of his season in Triple-A with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Hoskins was phenomenal and was called up to the show after the All-Star break. He appeared in 50 games for the Phillies and showcased his outstanding power. In 212 plate appearances, he hit 18 home runs and hit .259/.396/.618. Steamer projects that Hoskins’s batting line will drop, at .263/.355/.531 with 37 home runs in 598 plate appearances. With Hoskins playing a full season and Santana in the mix, the Phillies’ lineup will likely fare much better than last year.
Last year, the team’s pitching didn’t perform well, either. Phillies pitchers combined for a 4.55 ERA, 8.18 K/9, and 1.39 WHIP. But they made a significant acquisition late in the offseason, signing Jake Arrieta to a three-year contract.
Arrieta joins Aaron Nola and Jared Eickhoff atop the rotation. Last season, Arrieta was mediocre with the Cubs, as he posted a 3.53 ERA and gave up 1.23 home runs per nine. Steamer projects that Arrieta will have a 4.10 ERA, 8.62 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, and a 1.17 HR/9. With the additions of Arrieta and Santana, the Phillies could put together a solid season in 2018.