With injuries to many big stars and a lot of tough losses, the 2012 Phillies had one of their most disappointing seasons in a decade, finishing in third place for the first time since 2003. Though they are rid of many older guys like Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton, Juan Pierre, and Jose Contreras, their starting lineup isn’t getting much younger. In fact, 37-year-old Polanco is being replaced in the lineup by an equally old Michael Young. The Phillies have little else to do but hope that the aging infield they have relied on for years returns to the kind of production we saw before 2012. Luckily, their pitching staff remains one of the best in the league so let’s see if the Phils can turn things around in 2013.
2012 Team Rankings:
Runs: 19th Overall
Batting Average: 15th Overall
ERA: 11th Overall
WHIP: 5th Overall
Although he was ultimately slowed by injuries, the 33-year-old Ruiz had a breakout season in 2012, hitting career highs in average (.325), home runs (16), and RBI (68). He is as reliable a starter as you can have but will miss the first 25 games of the season after being suspended for amphetamine use.
Kratz seems like a solid back-up catcher with decent pop. The 32-year-old just got his first taste of major league action last season after 11 years in the minors.
Howard didn’t look good after returning from a torn Achilles he suffered in the 2011 playoffs. Although he hit 14 HR and drove in 56 RBI in 71 games, he only batted .219 and had an OBP under .300. Hopefully a full healthy season will see Howard return to the 100+ RBI threat he used to be, although he is no longer the 140+ RBI guy he was in his late 20s.
Although he only got 33 MLB at-bats last year, Ruf has rocketed through the minors with his .300+ average at every level and his ridiculous 38 HR and 104 RBI for the AA Reading Phillies last year. He figures to get time at first and outfield and could really be the next big thing in Philly.
Utley hasn’t played a full season since 2009 and at 34 it may be time for Philly to start looking for his replacement. Limited to 300 at-bats last year, Utley batted just .256 with 11 HR, 45 RBI, 48 R, and 11 SB.
Frandsen is a solid bench player who batted .338 for the Phils in 195 at-bats last year but he is not a run producer nor will he ever play at a starting caliber.
While Howard and Utley have been slowed by age, the 34-year-old Rollins continues to be a solid producer. Although he only batted .250 last year (he’s a career .270 hitter) he still managed 23 HR, 68 RBI, 102 R, 30 SB, and 33 2B. He still has the Jimmy Rollins glove and continues to be a top shortstop into his mid-30s.
The 23-year-old Galvis isn’t much with the bat but he has a great glove at short and second. Although he has good speed, he didn’t attempt a single stolen base last season.
Third Base: Michael Young, Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen – Grade: B-
The Phils replaced the aging Placido Polanco with an aging Michael Young. Certainly not the 200+ hits per season player he once was, he batted .277 last year with 8 HR, 67 RBI, and 79 R. He is definitely on the decline as those are the worst stats he has seen since 2002.
Brown was supposed to be the next big thing a few years ago and has ended up playing just 147 games over three years while batting .236 over those seasons. The former #4 prospect in the country plays well in the minors but hasn’t translated well to the majors, the Phils will give it yet another go this year.
Young was brought in to tide the outfield over while some of the Phils’ younger guys get it together. He is a solid outfielder who batted .267 with 18 HR, 74 RBI, and 54 R in 2012 for the Tigers and is likely to do the same this year if he plays full time. He’s only 26 and the Phils got a bargain after his run in with the law last year.
Philly got Revere from the Twins in return for Vance Worley. He stepped up his hitting game, batting .294 in 511 at-bats last season but more importantly he is one of the best base stealers in the game today with 74 steals over his last two seasons. He almost never hits for extra bases though.
It’s hard to get excited about Mayberry and his .245 average and .301 OBP in 2012. His 14 HR and 46 RBI in 441 at-bats isn’t anything to write home about either. Really, the one stats that stands out is his 111 strikeouts. It’s hard to see him as a long term solution.
Nix is an always will be a backup at best. A career .245 hitter, he only hits for power when given a lot more opportunities than he should get, usually due to injuries.
Halladay is coming off the worst season he has had since 2000. His 4.49 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are far from what we are used to seeing from the future Hall of Famer. Unlike the other Phillies in their mid-30s, I’d bet Halladay bounces back with a healthy year in 2013.
Lee put up a 3.16 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 30 starts and only managed to go 6-9. Wins aren’t really his fault, he is still as good a pitcher as there is in the league and hasn’t seen an ERA over 3.20 since 2007.
With another great season in 2012 (17-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) Hamels rounds out the best top three any team’s rotation can throw out there.
Kendrick hasn’t been a full time starter over the last two seasons but in 40 starts and 31 relief appearances he has put up a 3.61 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 274 IP.
After a very solid 2011, Lannan didn’t get much opportunity to pitch in 2012. He rounds out what could be the best 1-5 rotation in the league.
Papelbon had a great first year for the Phils, saving 38 games (in 42 chances) and putting up a 2.44 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. At 32, he has re-established himself as one of the best closers in the league.
After a fantastic year in 2011, Bastardo really fell off in 2012 putting up a 4.33 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 2012. Hopefully he can return to the 2.64 ERA/0.93 WHIP he put up in 2011.
For Adams, his 3.27 ERA and 1.40 WHIP is a huge step down from the sub-2 ERAs he was putting up from 2009-2011. Still, the 34-year-old is one of the best set up men in the league if he can manage pitching in Philly.
Rosenberg and Stutes look like they can be solid relievers but Horst turned a lot of heads with his 1.15 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 31 IP last season.
Team Grade: B-
Fearless Prediction: 88-74, 3rd in NL East