Projecting the 2012 Phillies Lineup in 2012









One of the differences between being a baseball fan as a teenager in the 1980s and being a more nuanced baseball fan (unless, apparently, you’re Paul DePodesta) is the more nuanced baseball fan’s development of a bullshit detector when it comes to the typical “your team’s projected lineup in 2017 based on what we know in 2007” examples of prospect halo effect at best (e.g. Baseball Prospectus) or lazy journalism at worst (e.g. your local Sunday paper). We obviously don’t know who will be traded for whom, who will flame out, who will sign (or depart) as a free agent, who will move from third to the outfield, etc. at any moment. So why bother projecting even one year out, not to mention four or five, if not purely for our amusement when the time comes (if not before)?

See for example Baseball America’s December 2010 “Projected 2014 lineup” for the Phillies, featuring a left fielder and number five starter who are now Astros, a closer who’s now an injured Red, no Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon who actually are under contract for 2014, and a number three starter who is now probably shooting elk from his porch in Mississippi.

Based on the typical Phillies lineup this season, what would have been an accurate “Projected 2012 lineup” three offseasons ago (e.g. December 2008, when the Phils were briefly kings of the world)?

Catcher: Our backup catcher just had an OPS of .620 (OPS +63). He went crazy in the postseason, though, so we may not need to bring Chris Coste back.

First Base: Decline years? Check. Bad body type? Check. Poor defense? Check. We need to outbid the market to resign Ryan Howard even before he’s ON the market. And why not sign the Astros’ third baseman/left fielder as a backup?

Second Base: Obviously, Utley, but that 18 year old Venezuelan kid who just OPS’d .588 in the Sally League may be ready too.

Third Base: Hmm, I doubt we would want that Adrian Beltre, or even Wilson Betemit. Is Polanco on the market?

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins.

Left Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). Would we ever be able to outbid the Dodgers for Juan Pierre (.283/.327/.328, 75 OPS+ in 2008)? I mean, he did just bat .667 against the Phils in the NLCS (sample size: three at bats).

Center Field: Shane Victorino.

Right Field: No way will Dom Brown be ready in the next 4 years (though we won’t trade him for an ace either). We need to trade our 2014 first baseman and number five starter to the Astros in a few years for their 105 OPS+ right fielder.

No. 1 Starter: Irish dude who just won 20 games for a Blue Jays team that won 86.

No. 2 Starter: AL Cy Young winner (22-3, 2.54) Cliff Lee. We should trade spare parts for him. No, wait, trade him for spare parts. Wait, maybe free agency is better.

No. 3 Starter: World Series MVP Cole Hamels– why shouldn’t he be the #3 pitcher on the defending champions?

No. 4 Starter: World Series slugger Joe Blanton.

No. 5 Starter: Williamsport Crosscutter/Lakewood Blue Claw Vance Worley, who’s too much of a stud for the Sally League. & if he goes down, how about someone who just won 11 games despite a 5.49 ERA (79 ERA+), 3.9 K/9, and a WHIP of 1.612 over 155.2 IP? Kyle Kendrick is the Antichrist.

Closer: The Red Sox won’t be able to keep their all-star closer (2.34 ERA, 41 SV, 0.952 WHIP) in four years. Let’s throw ridiculous money at him when the time comes. I mean, the more economical option will need Tommy John surgery anyway.


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