When the 2016 season opened there were many question marks across the infield, with 3rd baseman Maikel Franco the only player who seemed a reliable source of production.
But as the season unfolded, the infielders mostly answered those questions in a positive fashion.
In fact, Franco may have been the most disappointing player among the regular performers.
Back in spring training there was hope that a platoon of veteran Ryan Howard and perennially underachieving Darin Ruf would provide combined solid production.
In the middle infield, no one knew what to expect out of 2nd baseman Cesar Hernandez besides perhaps a 20+ stolen base year, and Freddy Galvis was just keeping shortstop warm until the arrival of top prospect J.P. Crawford.
In the middle, both Hernandez and Galvis upped their offensive games, though Hernandez often was as maddening on base paths as he was dangerous to the opposition.As it turned out, there was a very productive 1st base platoon.
But it was the pleasant surprise of Tommy Joseph, called up in May after a hot start with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who produced from the right side of that platoon with Howard.
Those five players received the overwhelming majority of the playing time in the infield. Only one backup player, Andres Blanco, received enough time to warrant a final grade here.
So let’s take a look at the 2016 grades for Howard, Joseph, Hernandez, Galvis, Franco, and Blanco.
I am guessing that it will be the last Phillies grade that I ever bestow on “The Big Piece”, who is going to be leaving as a free agent. Because of his place in club history, I will grade him last.