Aaron Altherr, Maikel Franco fueling Phillies revitalized offense
The Phillies are playing like contenders all of a sudden and it's thanks to a surprisingly potent offense.
Seemingly from out of left field, the Phillies’ offense has become a baseball powerhouse.
After a bit of a slow start, the Phils have fired off six wins in a row (after an impressively solid 3-2 win over Miami) and have been bursting through with their bats in a sweep of the Braves and series wins against the Mets and Marlins.
Prior to their matinee Thursday, Philly has averaged 5.8 runs from home, the second most of any team in their own ballpark thus far in 2017. They are also in the top 10 overall in runs scored per game.
And they are getting on base, too. In 2016, the Phils averaged the third fewest hits per game in baseball. This season they have the eighth most.
Why the sudden production?
Well, Maikel Franco deserves a little credit. A week ago mired in a slump and hitting .179, he’s now eclipsed the Mendoza Line and has hit 11 RBI in his last six games, including a grand slam in a Wednesday night victory.
"That's what I've been working on in batting practice," Franco said of his reignited ability to hit the ball hard up the gut of the defense. "I just try to hit the ball to the middle and to the other side. That's the side of the plate they want to pitch me. That's the adjustment I have to make. Try to see the ball and make good contact."
Another key bat in the Phils' recent string of success — which has them in extremely early wild card and NL East contention — is Aaron Altherr.
The outfielder who has power and speed showed lots of promise in 2015 and many in the Phils' organization expected he'd be a key cog in a winning ball club. But an injury-riddled 2016 lowered expectations.
But the slugger has scored a run in eight straight games and is proving to be a sparkplug.
"We like Aaron a lot," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told Philly.com last week. "And we want to see him play. The opportunity existed for us to add the veterans that we did. But all along, we hoped that we'd still be able to find time for Aaron to play."
As of Thursday, six Phillies hitters had batting averages above .270.
Philly will head west this weekend, kicking off a seven-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Dodgers with games at 10:10 p.m. Friday, 9:10 p.m. Saturday and 4:10 p.m. Sunday. They'll follow that with a mid-week four-game set in Chicago against the World Champion Cubs.