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2017 Phillies Preview

Well, after a strong first couple months, it became very clear that what we all knew about the Phillies was true, they sucked, finishing 71 and 91 with the worst offense in the league by almost 40 runs and a pitching staff that finished in the bottom third of the league.   All, however, is not lost.  Out of the ashes have come a player that could turn into a cornerstone in Maikel Franco, a solid player in Odubel Herrera, and Tommy Joseph and Cesar Hernandez who are very serviceable major league ballplayers.  With the $ the Phillies can spend in the coming years, that’s a foundation.  Then we get to the rotation which has some really, really interesting pieces.  I don’t expect a complete turnaround in ’17, but I can see a solid, competitive team by ’18 and a juggernaut not too far thereafter with a solid front office and the payroll to support it.

For me, this was the highlight of the Phillies season.  Hehe.

Projected Lineup

1. Cesar Hernandez

2. Howie Kendrick

3. Odubel Herrera

4. Maikel Franco

5. Tommy Joseph

6. Michael Saunders

7. Freddy Galvis

8. Cameron Rupp

Projected Rotation

1. Aaron Nola

2. Vincent Velasquez

3. Jerad Eickhoff

4. Jeremy Hellickson

5. Clay Buchholz

Closer

I don’t think there is any question who the best reliever in the Philadelphia bullpen is. Whether that translates to saves is another question.

I don’t think there is any doubt that Hector Neris is the best pitcher in the Phillies bullpen.  With a 2.58 ERA 11.5 K/9 and a 3.40 K/BB, it’s all there for the 27-year-old.  All, that is, except for the closer role.  Thing is Jeanmar Gomez kinda sucks.  If the Phillies were competitive this year, I would say that Neris gets the role in April.  They won’t and I fear that the front office will keep Neris out of the closer role to keep his costs down.  Enter Benoit who has been an underrated reliever for the last 5 or so years.  I could see Benoit getting a shot to close before Neris though.  Tough call.  Neris is worth a speculative pick in the late rounds for the ratio help alone and if he secures the job, he’s got the skills to end up a top-10 closer.

Fantasy Outlook:

For a team that was the worst at scoring runs this year, there certainly are some interesting options here.  First among those I like this year is Franco.  I am intrigued by the low-K rate high power profile.  Franco only struck out in about 17% of his plate appearances on his way to popping 25 homers, with a final slash line of .255/.306/.427.  While that’s not sexy and his ’15 line of .280/.343./.497 was bound for a bit of regression, at only 24-years-old, I think we see something in the middle of those two lines, as does Steamer (.272/.324/.472) and ZiPS (.270/.322/.463), with high twenties homers.  That’s a valuable player and I think there’s a shot he takes a step forward from that.  It’s a bit unique to see such a high-floor, high-ceiling player going off boards in the early-to-mid 100s.  I would be fine with Franco as my starting third baseman if I missed out on the top tier in the early rounds.

Already covered Herrera:

“Herrera is … interesting.  He came busting out of the gates with a WRC+ of 145 in April and 132 in May, fueled largely by a .462 and .393 OBP.  As the league adjusted his numbers came back to earth, though, he did show an uptick in homers in ’16 popping 15.  He slashed his K rate 4% points in ’16 and has run above-average BABIPs for the past two seasons so I think the average is for real.  The 26-year-old is who he is at this point and that’s fine and somewhat valuable.  Ramirez has the potential for a little bit more with his line, Eaton has the average and lineup security, but Odubel has a bit more speed with the 25 swipes last year and 13 in the second half without being caught.  I think a repeat of last year is about right: .280/15/25/90/50.”  My interest is a bit more piqued given that it looks like he’ll hit third, when I had assumed that he would be in the leadoff spot.  Bump up the RBIs here a bit.  Definitely have my eye on Herrera in this year’s drafts.

Saunders fell in the top-80 for me, but beyond platooning in daily leagues, I don’t have any real interest: “Saunders might be able to push 25 home runs again and should be hitting somewhere at the top of the Phillies offense, but he’s played over 135 games twice in his career.”

For Joseph‘s price, it’s worth the risk to see if the gains he made at the plate last year are for real.  He slugged . 505 with 21 bombs in 347 plate appearances.  Everyone is losing their minds over Greg Bird winning the job for the Yankees.  Head down 95 a little bit for a player that I think could give you a similar line in 5x5s without the hype and at an even cheaper price.  Depth Charts has him with a .261 average, 31 homers, 77 runs, and 90 RBIs.  You could do worse.

Rupp falls outside the catchers being drafted, coming off the board as the 18th catcher.  Worth keeping an eye on though if you are playing the catcher carousel.  Not sure if the power is real and most projections I see don’t believe it, but, again, keep an eye on him.

Hernandez is a bit-more than an empty batting average, with 5 homer power and 20 steal speed.  Nothing exciting especially with second being so deep this year, but he could fill a need on teams looking for average help.  Kendrick is old and boring and has been doing what he’s done for seems like forty years now.  He is who he is.  Galvis sucks, but sucks with some power and some speed.  If you need it, expect a terrible average, 10 homers and 15 steals.  We can do better, but if you need a fill-in, I guess you could do worse.

On to the pitching, where there’s some real potential.

I am going to target Nola everywhere as I think he has ace upside.   He showed this upside prior to getting hurt last year.  Though he doesn’t have the sexy velocity, he’s got the control (4.17 K/BB) and the Ks (9.81 K/9) to support his peripherals (3.08 FIP) and to be a top-20 pitcher easy.  Now all he needs is better luck (60.6 LOB% last year) and health.  He looks healthy this spring.  At an ADP hovering around Happ and Samardzija, I am all in.

Though I am not as hyped about Velasquez, he’s a bit cheaper than Nola, and does have that sexy heat.  He’s a high-3 ERA with a ton of Ks.  If I’m searching for Ks later in the middle rounds of a draft and he’s there, no problem with clicking “draft”.  With control and homer issues, though, I don’t see the upside that some do.  Eickhoff is kinda the opposite, but no issue with taking him.  High-3 ERA, little better WHIP than Velasquez, but fewer Ks.  Both solid 3s, high 4s for any rotation.

A word for Phillies fans, don’t watch Buchholz pitch.  He’s slow as fuck and boring as fuck and his hair is disgusting.  On the fantasy side, zero interest outside of NL-Only deep leagues.  You can take a flyer on Hellickson but I can’t see a scenario where I am not searching for more upside.  He seems to have aged well and gained some control, but he’s boring.  I don’t like boring at the end of my rotations.

2017 Callups

The only guy I can see getting the callup with true real-baseball impact is shortstop J.P. Crawford.  While Crawford is gonna be a good major-leaguer based on his glove alone, he does not have an impact bat as of yet, slashing just .244/.328/.318 in AAA last year.  Further, to keep his costs down, I doubt the Phillies would bring up Crawford before the Super 2 deadline.  Pass for now in anything other than keepers and dynasty leagues.

2017 Outlook

A struggle to reach .500 and last place in the NL East.  There’s hope though.

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 19th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #79 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss player updates, players being overdrafted, and overall fantasy updates.

Our guest this week is Jon Merkel. Jon is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com in both baseball and football. His articles publish every Wednesday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #80 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss players in the draft going for nice bargains.

Our guest this week is Steve Hamilton. Steve is a writer, and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com focusing on baseball. His articles publish every Saturday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I have been playing fantasy baseball for about a decade over just about every format. Long time player, but first time writer. Hope to provide you helpful, informative, and entertaining insight throughout the season.

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