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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Phillies position players: 2019 first trimester report cards

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Mixed grades for Phillies position players in first 2019 trimester

Each season in Major League Baseball is currently scheduled to last for 162 games. This means that the Philadelphia Phillies reached the 1/3 pole of the 2019 campaign this past Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park against the Saint Louis Cardinals.
I previously handed out report cards for the first “trimester” of the season for each of the starting pitchers on the Phillies 2019 roster, as well as outfielder Nick Williams and reliever Pat Neshek.
In an effort to wrap-up the process, this piece will include a letter grade, along with a brief description of each remaining key position players contributions, including their relevant statistics through Tuesday night, May 28.
I’ll be back with player grades for the second trimester and the season to that point when the Phillies reach the 108-game mark. That is scheduled to come on July 31, the same date as the MLB trade deadline.

STARTING LINEUP

Andrew McCutchen (B): ‘Cutch’ slashed .257/.375/.446 with eight homers, 26 RBIs, 38 runs scored, and 21 extra-base hits through the first one-third of the season. He provided strong left field defense, and was mostly solid when called upon to fill in at center field as well. For the forseeable future in this 2019 season, that could prove to be his regular position.
Jean Segura (A): Segura was perhaps the club’s most consistent hitter at that one-third mark, slashing .308/.354/.478 with five homers, 23 RBIs, 35 runs scored, and 19 extra-base hits. He has also provided stellar defense at shortstop. Segura missed ten games after suffering a mid-April injury.
Bryce Harper (B): For many fans, the first one-third of this Phillies season was a disappointment from Harper after he was signed to a massive free agent contract. True, he hit for just a .232 average. But he also got on base at a .357 clip, and provided nine homers, 36 RBIs, 31 runs scored, and 25 extra-base hits. While we expect more offensively, his grade also reflects his having played outstanding defense in right field and provided a hustling example on the field and base paths at all times.
Rhys Hoskins (A): Through the one-third pole of the season, Hoskins was the club’s most consistent run-producer. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, with his return to the more comfortable first base position and the improved offensive talent surrounding him in the batting order. He slashed .271/.396/.536 with 13 homers, 41 RBIs, 31 runs scored, and 24 extra-base hits.
J.T. Realmuto (A): It would be hard to argue that there is a better all-around catcher in the game of baseball today. Realmuto slashed .272/.325/.462 with eight homers, 32 RBIs, 33 runs scored, and 19 extra-base hits. More importantly, he started 46 starts of the club’s first 54 games behind the plate, throwing out some of the best base runners in the game on a consistent basis.
Odubel Herrera (F): His season and his career with the Phillies came to an end with his arrest on charges of domestic violence in an Atlantic City casino late last Sunday night. I don’t think it is too presumptuous or irrational to make that statement. Herrera was placed on paid disciplinary probation by MLB as they examine the incident. Prior to that, he was awful, slashing .222/.288/.341 with just one homer, 16 RBIs, and a dozen runs and extra-base hits. He also continued to mix fantastic plays with boneheaded blunders in center field. The only surprise is that, prior to the arrest, he still had many supporters among the fan base.
Cesar Hernandez (B): While his defense remains questionable at the Keystone and his baserunning leaves much to be desired, there is no doubt that Hernandez has provided much more with his bat than anyone could have predicted. He was slashing .303/.361/.482 with six homers, 25 RBIs and runs scored, and 21 extra-base hits at the one-third mark of the season. His all-around game is all that is keeping him from an ‘A’ grade.
Maikel Franco (C): Had the third baseman been judged on his first month alone, he would have received an A+ in all likelihood. But a deep May slump has seen his numbers plunge, and dropped his grade for the first 1/3 of the season commensurately. Franco slashed .219/.294/.388 with seven homers, 29 RBIs, 23 runs scored, and 17 extra-base hits. However, he hasn’t homered in more than a month, and slashed just .158/.190/.211 with four RBIs from May 2-28. He has played a solid third base, helping his grade some.

BENCH REGULARS

Scott Kingery (A): The primary bench weapon for manager Gabe Kapler so far this season, Kingery missed a month from mid-April to mid-May. However, when playing he slashed .339/.381/559 with seven RBIs and nine extra-base hits and runs scored in just 63 plate appearances. Having played five different positions already this season, Kingery is filling the super-utility role carved out for him at the outset of the season perfectly to this point.
Andrew Knapp (D): It is becoming increasingly evident that Knapp is not a big-league caliber player for a postseason contender, even as a backup catcher. Over the first 1/3 of the season he slashed just .167/.352/.286 with one solo homer, two doubles, and six runs scored across 54 plate appearances. The backup catcher is a tough role. You don’t play regularly, especially with a guy like Realmuto as the starter. That is revealed by the nine starts among 26 games played for Knapp. But the team simply must get more production from the position when that backup backstop is called upon.

THE REST

It simply wouldn’t be fair to give players such as Phil Gosselin or Sean Rodriguez a grade, since neither has received nearly enough playing time or been assigned any type of consistent role with the team. Both have had moments in which they have helped. Neither has lit the world on fire. Rodriguez in particular appears to be the type of veteran bench player who could continue to help the team as it contends over the summer.
Players such as Roman QuinnDylan CozensMitch Walding, and Aaron Altherr, who each appeared over the first 1/3 of the season, simply did not play enough as well. As a group, you would have to give this Phillies “deep bench” grouping no better than a ‘D’ cumulative grade. They inspired no fear in the opposition, nor confidence in the fan base.

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