Photo Credit: The New York Times
The 2017 MLB season doesn’t start for a while. Spring Training starts in February (Which is 4 months away). The period between seasons is known as the offseason, when general managers try to make trades, sign free agents, and release players from a season ago. No other team’s offseason will be as interesting to watch than the Philadelphia Phillies. They are a team in rebuilding mode and aren’t expected to make a big splash in free agency, but they could be very active in the trade market. Here is my prediction for the Phillies starting lineup on Opening Day 2017.
Starting Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson
Hellickson got the opening day nod in 2016 and did well enough throughout the season to receive a qualifying offer. He has the most experience out of anyone in the rotation which leads me to believe that he will get the starting nod on opening day.
Catcher Cameron Rupp
Cameron Rupp was slated to be the back-up catcher behind Carlos Ruiz in 2016 but he showed that he has the potential to be a very good everyday catcher. With the only other options being rookies Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, unless they sign someone in free agency (which is unlikely), I don’t see how they wouldn’t start Rupp on opening day.
First Baseman Tommy Joseph
Ryan Howard (and his massive contract) is no longer on the Phillies, and with that being said Tommy Joseph is the clear favorite to start. After bashing 21 home runs in 107 games, Joseph basically has no competition that he needs to worry about because all other first baseman in the organization aren’t ready to be in the big leagues yet. Easy decision here.
Second Baseman Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez led the Phillies in Batting average (.292), and on-base percentage (.371) last season and proved to be a great table setter at the top of the lineup. Apparently several team have inquired about him already this offseason, so there is a chance he gets moved. But, I think in the end the Phillies will hang on to their future second baseman.
Third Baseman Maikel Franco
This is by far the easiest pick im making. Franco led the Phillies in home runs with 27, RBIs with 87, and defensive WAR. He is their biggest power threat and run producer. There is no way he gets moved or anyone challenges his spot at the third base.
Shortstop JP Crawford
This one is unlikely but I have a gut feeling that No.1 prospect in the Phillies’ organization and No.2 prospect in baseball JP Crawford will beat out Freddy Galvis for the starting shortstop job. Now realistically, Crawford will be down in the minors to start the season before finally bringing him up. But I am predicting that Crawford will have a good spring and beat out Galvis for the starting job.
Left Fielder Howie Kendrick
Kendrick is an infielder by trade and will be put at second base if Hernandez is moved but if not than he proved last season that he can also play the outfield as he spent much more time in the outfield then he did at second base. The Phillies acquired him in a trade earlier this month from the Dodgers. He is experienced and can act not only as a big bat in the top of their lineup but as a leader to the young guys in the clubhouse.
Center Fielder Odubel Herrera
Odubel Herrera was named to his first all-star game this past season and was the only Phillies representative at the mid-summer classic. He led the Phillies in hits, runs scored, and stolen bases and was nominated for a Gold Glove for his great play in center field. His spot is safe for now but there were reports saying his name was being thrown around in trade talks.
Right Fielder Aaron Altherr
Altherr was slated to be the Phillies starting right fielder at the beginning of last season but he broke his wrist and was out for several months. He didn’t return until late in the season and started off hot but ended the season in a slump. If he doesn’t have a good spring I could easily see the Phillies stick someone like Roman Quinn, Tyler Goeddel or even Nick Williams (the number 3 prospect in the Phillies’ organization) if he has a good spring.
- 2B Cesar Hernandez
- SS JP Crawford
- CF Odubel Herrera
- 3B Maikel Franco
- 1B Tommy Joseph
- C Cameron Rupp
- LF Howie Kendrick
- RF Aaron Altherr
- SP Jeremy Hellickson
It remains to be seen if any of these players are in the opening day lineup or on the roster. These are my predictions for the team not an actual lineup card. Only time will tell who will be in the Phillies’ starting lineup on Opening Day come April.