With the 2017 season behind us and a long offseason of contract negotiations ahead of us, let’s recap the 2017 Phillies’ players and future:
The Phillies ended their 5th straight losing season with a 66-96 record, a seemingly step back from their 2016 campaign, in which they had a not much better 71-91 record. But Phillies fans, rejoice. While the Phillies didn’t look better on paper, the organization took an undeniable step forward in their rebuild in 2017.
First off, the fantastic debut of the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins who piled up 2 bWAR and 2.2 fWAR in his brief 50 game stint. Hoskins blasted 18 home runs in 170 at bats, with a sensational 1.014 OPS. If Hoskins would’ve had enough at bats and kept up his .359 ISO, he would’ve beaten out Stanton and lead the rest of the league in ISO. Had he kept up his walk rate, he would’ve had the 4th best BB% in the league as well as having a superb .396 on base percentage. If you had given Hoskins the whole year to show off his skills, perhaps he’d be in the MVP conversation.
Down on the farm, Phillies fans may have grown concerns about 2016 former first round pick Mickey Moniak. While some concerns may be valid, it’s not time to jump ship on Moniak just yet. Moniak is still just 19 and was putting up acceptable numbers until he hit a wall later in the year. I’m just going to chalk this up as fatigue, it’s his first full year playing pro-ball and his first 123 game grind. Best course of action on Moniak– be patient and don’t expect him to be the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. For the recently called up J.P. Crawford, expect most of his value to come from the glove, as he doesn’t hit for much power or average. The person who you should keep an eye on: Sixto Sanchez, perhaps the biggest rank risers for the Phillies. Sanchez has an explosive fastball complimented by a plus curveball. Sanchez sped through Single A with a 2.41 ERA in 67.1 innings but experienced a bit of a tough time in High A with a high 4.55 ERA in 27.2 innings. This should be a blip on the radar and normal growing pains on his journey to the Majors, but I’ll be checking in on him time to time.
For those “I want to see our progress on a major league field” fans, Franco should be back to playing at his 2016 levels this coming season, in which he batted .255 with 25 homeruns. Assuming that he returns to his age 23 breakout season from last year, he should be around 2 more fWAR than he was last year. Franco had a very slow start to the year due to his aggressiveness with a batting average of .217, but appeared to have made adjustments in the second half, where he batted .245. Also, Aaron Nola is blossoming right in front of our eyes. The 24 year old Nola experienced a velocity uptick in his fastball from a 91-92 mph average to sitting around 92-94 mph. Some attribute this to his recent success, but more importantly, it’s a sign that he is finally healthy from his injury plagued Rookie and Sophomore campaigns. Aaron Nola is a developing ace. Since joining the league his FIP has heavily suggested poor fortune. Nola burst onto the scene in 2016 with an FIP of 3.08, but had a drastic ERA difference at 4.78 a 1.7 point increase. While managing to keep his ERA down more in 2017 at a very respectable 3.54, his FIP still suggested back luck again, as it rested at an ace-like 3.27. Expect Nola to keep improving and continue to hammer down the injury plagued rotation for years to come. For those who play fantasy, be very aggressive on him.
With only one guaranteed contract heading into the offseason belonging to Odubel Herrera, the Phillies have only spent $6.1 million on their team next year. With the Phillies in uber moneysaving mode, expect them to make a huge splash in the 2018-2019 free agent class. The only major aspirations I have for the Phillies on the money front until then is to extend future All-Star Aaron Nola, who becomes availible for free agency after the 2021 season.
Phillies fans should be pleased with the progress their team has been making and should be looking to compete in the coming years.
Cover Image: SI.com