The Phillies officially bottomed out at the All-Star break. It was so bad that the Phillies lost as many games at that point as the 2011 squad dropped during that entire regular season. However, there was some good (rookies Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola) and there was the bad (Domonic Brown) and of course, the ugly (the pitching, Jeff Francoeur’s extended outing as a reliever, Ryne Sandberg losing control of the clubhouse, too much to name). The Metro takes one last look back at the Phillies squad that lost 99 games and give them some final grades.
First Base: D
The Big Piece put up some numbers, 23 homers and 77 RBIs but his defensive ability has eroded so badly that it’s a shame he can’t start his career as a DH next season. But a $25 million weight will anchor him in Philly. Ryan Howard struggled against lefthanders and what really has hurt him for some time is that the league adapted to him and he never responded, which is a killer since baseball is a game of adjustments. Darin Ruf still has trouble hitting right-handed pitching and driving in runners in scoring position.
Second Base: C-
When Cesar Hernandez succeeded the then injured Chase Utley, he impressed but it was a small sample set. After Utley was traded, Hernandez slumped and suffered a season ending injury.. It’ll be curious to see what he does next season. Hernandez showed off some impressive tools (nice bat, good glove and some speed) but was inconsistent.
Shortstop: B- Who ever thought that Freddy Galvis would hit .263 and knock in 50 runs?
Galvis seized the moment and put up solid offensive numbers. He made some spectacular plays but it was surprising how many routine plays Galvis mishandled. But Galvis was impressive overall.
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It was no surprise that the Phillies had a mini-surge after the arrival of Maikel Franco and the team cooled after his wrist was broken in mid-August. Franco is a difference maker, who probably would have been in the rookie of the year conversation if he stayed healthy.
What was most impressive was Franco’s patience at the plate. Franco, a threat every time he steps to the plate, is a huge upgrade over Cody Asche at third base.
Center Field: A-
Odubel Herrera had the best year a Rule 5 ever had after being selected by a team that must keep him on the roster for the season or offer him back to his prior team. At the dawn of spring training, a veteran scout told Metro that Herrera was the Phillies leadoff hitter and starting leftfielder. He wasn’t far off the mark by much.. After skipping Triple-A, Herrera led the Phillies with a .297 average, which was 12th best in the National League. Herrera has some pop and no Phillie has worked pitchers better than Herrera since Jayson Werth. On top of that,Herrera learned to play center field on the fly. A polished young hitter, who is a pure ballplayer.
Right Field: C-
The Domonic Brown chapter is finally over. Chip Kelly will be fortunate if has as many chances to fail as Brown, who had no pop this season. Dom-dawg has all the tools but something huge is missing in his makeup. Perhaps a change of scenery will help. Francoeur was a nice comeback story. Frenchy had a solid season, is great in the clubhouse and never stops smiling.
Left Field: C
Hats off to Ben Revere, who played a great left field before being dealt North of the border. Revere also hit .298 for the Phillies and has been a good cog in the wheel with the Blue Jays. Asche had two weeks to learn left in the minors. The Phillies former third baseman picked it up and was solid performing in a foreign position. However, Asche just doesn’t have the bat to be an everyday leftfielder. Aaron Altherr is ready for a major league starting job. The speedy Altherr looks like Garry Maddox in the outfield as he casually glides toward fly balls and he looks like a speedier Werth with the bat in his hands.In just 137 at-bats, he had a whopping 20 extra base hits and with his enviable wheels scored 25 runs.
Starting Pitching: D
Back in early March, the rotation was led by Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. The last of the four aces are gone. Hamels, who pitched well while he was around this season, was dealt to Texas and Lee didn’t throw a pitch due to injury and was bought out. Aaron Nola lived up to the hype and pitched very well for a team in transition. Aaron Harang was great for the first two months but he struggled mightily while battling plantar fasciitis. Jerome Williams and David Buchanan were just terrible. Jerad Eickhoff, who has a great curveball, showed great promise and Adam Morgan did a nice job and looks like a number 5.
The Bullpen D
Many of the relievers took a big step back. Justin DeFratus and Jake Diekman before he was traded to Texas with Hamels, didn’t get the job done. Jeanmar Gomez was solid and Ken Giles proved he could close. Getting rid of Jonathan Papelbon was the biggest improvement. Talk about addition by subtraction.
The Bench: C
Andres Blanco was very good in his pinch hitting role. Asche and Ruf are decent coming off the bench since that’s where they’re best utilized.
Pete Mackanin didn’t inherit a good situation but he knew that more than anyone. Following the taciturn Sandberg and running a kiddie corp wasn’t easy but Mackanin made it look that way. He said that he would wait until after the All Star break to put his stamp on the team. The Phillies play improved dramatically under Mackanin.
“He’s one of the good things to happen to us this season,” Asche said.
Mackanin is a players coach. The team played loose with Mackanin and when they were healthy after the break showed some good signs, which is the best takeaway from the long, mostly forgettable 2015 season.