As the Phillies embark on their 2018 campaign, they look to have built a solid foundation around hitters like Rhys Hoskins and newly acquired Carlos Santana. The power that once dominated Major League Baseball on a yearly basis at Citizen's Bank Park might finally return as the team begins spring training on Friday against the Blue Jays.
It's up to the Phillies' new manager Gabe Kapler to find the right batting order in which to produce runs. Here is our prediction as to how the lineup will look come opening day.
No. 1: Caesar Hernandez, 2B
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In the leadoff role, Caesar Hernandez has batted .294 the last two years with nearly identical on base percentages of .371 in 2016 and .373 in 2017. He's earned his right to remain the leadoff hitter for the Phillies in 2018 and will look to continue that trend of reaching base.
No. 2: J.P. Crawford, SS
In 23 games for the Phillies last season, J.P. Crawford registered an on base percentage of .356 but he batted just .214. That batting average will need to come up if Crawford is to remain as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup. Kapler has already discussed the potential of playing the switch-hitting Santana in the two hole, but Crawford's speed makes him a more dangerous threat when on base. He'll be given every opportunity to keep his spot in the lineup.
No. 3: Nick Williams, CF
The Phillies are a team that is currently pushing a youth movement. It makes sense to give Nick Williams the first crack at the starting lineup, before finding another option. Williams had a solid rookie year for the Phillies, batting .288 while notching 12 home runs and 55 RBI in 83 games. He has good power for the No. 3 spot and, if he can stay consistent in the outfield, this spot will be his to lose.
No. 4: Rhys Hoskins, LF
There's no question as to who will hold down the power hitting No. 4 spot in the Phillies batting order. This goes to the second-coming of Babe Ruth in Philadelphia, Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins may very well lead the MLB in home runs by seasons end. The right-handed hitter swung for 18 home runs in just 50 games for the Phillies last season. Expectations are high that he can repeat this success in 2018.
No. 5 - Carlos Santana, 1B
The Phillies signed Carlos Santana in the off-season for one reason - to hit the long ball. The slugger from the Indians hit a combined 57 home runs over the past two seasons. He'll be a key component in the Phillies' offense at the No. 5 slot and will backup Hoskins nicely.
No. 6 - Odubel Herrera, RF
Odubel Herrera has been one of the most consistent hitters on the Phillies for the past three seasons. With a career batting average of .288 and an All-Star selection in 2016, he knows how to do some damage at the plate. He'll serve as a spark for the bottom of the Phillies' batting order and hopefully start the rally for the second unit.
No. 7 - Maikel Franco, 3B
Nobody really knows what to make of Maikel Franco at the moment. Once thought of as the face of the Phillies future, he had somewhat of a disappointing 2017 season which saw a drop off in production. Franco did notch 24 home runs and 76 RBI, but he batted just .230. It was a huge dip from the .280 he batted in his second season. But, the hope is that he can find that consistency once again.
No. 8 - Jorge Alfaro, C
Jorge Alfaro batted an impressive .318 in just 29 games with the Phillies in 2017. It was good enough to give him the starting nod this season, but with the powerful Cameron Rupp sitting behind him, it will be one of the most interesting position battles to watch as the season progresses.