After five consecutive playoff appearances, the Philadelphia Phillies finished third in the National League East with a .500 record. The Philadelphia lineup was depleted due to injuries over the first half of the season. It was reflected in their inability to score runs and Cliff Lee’s winless record through June. Philadelphia made a few savvy moves over the off-season to put themselves in position to contend once again in 2013. Despite their age, this lineup and pitching rotation presents several intriguing fantasy baseball options.
Unsatisfied with their mediocrity, Philadelphia decided to trade for Michael Young and Ben Revere, while adding Delmon Young, Mike Adams and John Lannon in free agency. The Phillies seem prepared to make another playoff push or two before this generation of players is over the hill.
When they got healthy in the second half, Philadelphia finished 13 games over the .500 mark. However, they will be without their leading hitter, Carlos Ruiz, for the first 25 games due to a suspension. Ruiz was busted for the use of Adderall but its absence should not be too detrimental to his success at the plate. Ruiz will be a top fantasy catcher after he returns but be sure to draft a competent backup for the beginning of the season.
The classic Philadelphia trio of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have begun to show signs of aging, with at least one of the three missing significant time in each of the last three seasons. Howard never found a groove at the plate in his 71 games last season, hitting just .219.
They still have enough left to serve prominent roles on a playoff team but they should not longer be counted on as elite fantasy players.
Michael Young was bumped into a utility role which began to take its toll on his value in 2012 as he posted a WAR of -2.4. Despite lacking a definitive role with the Texas Rangers, Young managed to appear in 156 games last season. Young’s game lacked any flair as his extra base hit total dropped from 58 to 38 and his averaged fell from .338 to .277. At age 36, Young cannot be expected to revert to his old ways but he should still serve the Phillies well.
Philadelphia was able to pluck Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins for a package that included Vance Worley. While he’s short in stature and is still in search of his first career home run, Revere is a significant addition to the Phillies. Revere and Domonic Brown give Philadelphia a solid young core of outfielders to build their future around. Brown is hitting .432 with 3 homers in spring training and will be the more appealing fantasy option but Revere offers explosive defense and speed.
Philadelphia has exceptional depth in the outfield as they have John Mayberry Jr, Delmon Young and Darin Ruf in addition to the previously mentioned Brown and Revere. 26-year-old Ruf is an unknown resource with almost zero major league experience but hit .317 with 38 homers and 104 RBIs in double-A last season. He has hurt his chances at earning a starting spot by hitting just .188 thus far in spring training.
The obvious strength of this Phillies ball club remains their pitching. The big three of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are three of the best pitchers in all of baseball and each offer value as number one fantasy starters. All three have realistic aspirations for a Cy Young in any given season and 2013 is not an exception.
The talent in Philadelphia’s pitching staff does not end with the front end of their rotation. Kyle Kendrick is coming off of a sub-4.00 ERA season and the Phillies have done well to bolster their bullpen by adding one of the game’s premier set-up men in Mike Adams.
Philadelphia’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. Ryan Howard, 2. Domonic Brown, 3. Jimmy Rollins, 4. Chase Utley, 5. Michael Young
Philadelphia’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Roy Halladay, 2. Cole Hamels, 3. Cliff Lee.
Philadelphia projected record: 87-75
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.