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“In Lou of” – Philadelphia Phillies; The Dark Horse?

A break-down of the Phillies as a team, and their players’ impact in fantasy:

The Philadelphia Phillies have gone from dominating the NL East Division and being perennial World Series contenders, to an after thought in their division and the National League. They have made quality moves this off-season, yet they are being overlooked in favor of teams that have been more flashy about their transactions. The Phillies averaged 95 wins a season between 2007 and 2011, and made the playoffs every one of those years. They went to the World Series twice in that time frame, winning it in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Their highest win total in those five years was in 2011, when they lead the MLB with 102 victories. Yes, they only won 81 games in 2012. One can argue, however, that based on the stats above, it was a down season, and they will bounce back in 2013 to contend for a wild card spot. They had issues with the back end of their bullpen when they won 102 games in 2011, but in 2012 they had one of the best closers in the last decade, Johnathan Papelbon. The team didn’t put it all together with Papelbon in 2012, but a lot of that can be attributed to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley missing half the season, as well as ace pitcher, Roy Halladay, spending an extended period of time on the DL. When the Phillies are healthy and begin to play good baseball again in 2013, Papelbon will be there to make a big impact for them. There is no doubt about the impact he can have on a team. We saw the Red Sox, the team Papelbon left behind to go to Philly, struggle to close out games throughout the entire season in 2012. That, my friends, is no coincidence.

The Phillies are not as far away from contending as the experts advertise. As I mentioned above, they have one of the best closers in baseball, and made some significant acquisitions this off-season. Most notably, they acquired 3B Michael Young from Texas, OF Ben Revere from Minnesota, and OF Delmon Young and SP John Lannan via free agency. These players will join a roster that features such hitters as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. This roster also features award-winning pitchers such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels (known as “The Big Three”). The Phillies will face some stiff competition in the NL East with the likes of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, but they are built to win and poised to surprise a lot of people.

The new acquisitions will have an impact in fantasy this year, as well as impact the fantasy value of the players that are already on the roster. Let’s break it down:

 -The Pitchers

The big 3 in the Phillies starting rotation will benefit from having more depth, this season with the addition of Lannan. They’ll also have Papelbon closing their games. This Phillies team will score a lot more runs than the team last year, which will generate more wins for all the starters, including Lannan and Kyle Kendrick. With solid starting pitching and a deeper offense, the Phillies will provide Papelbon with many save opportunities, and he will be available later in drafts than in the previous year. My advice on draft day is to find a roster spot for all-star closer, Papelbon, as well as one or more of “The Big Three,” since they are as dominant and consistent as they come.

-The Returning Hitters

The Phillies have 4 returning players from their batting order that can have an impact on your fantasy roster:

C Carlos Ruiz – He is an all-star caliber catcher in fantasy, and he will benefit from the added depth to this lineup. His only downside is that he will miss the first third of the season, due to a banned substance suspension. With that being said, his production last season may have been due to the PEDs, not his natural ability, so draft with caution.

1B Ryan Howard – He may not hit for a high average anymore, but he hits in the middle of a lineup that will provide him with many RBI chances. Also, he still has 35 homers in him over a full 162 game season.

2B Chase Utley – He is not the player he once was, and he did not give us any reason why we should expect him to regain his all-star status. He’s constantly injured, and even when he is playing, his power production is not what it once was. He should absolutely be on a fantasy roster, but don’t rely on him to win you a championship.

SS Jimmy Rollins – He plays a position in which it is hard to find quality fantasy players. I wouldn’t consider him elite, but his skill set provides him with the ability to help your fantasy team. Rollins has the ability to hit 20 plus home runs, steal 30 or more bases, and score over 100 runs. He did it last year on a Phillies team that desperately struggled to score runs. He could be a steal in the middle rounds of your draft.

-The Three New Hitters

3B Michael Young – He did have a down year in 2012, but keep in mind that he has been a steady contributor over the last decade. He has moved around the entire infield in Texas, and was even taken off the field and made into a DH, which is something he was very clear about not wanting to do. He was not happy in Texas, but now that he’s a Philly, he has security that he is the everyday 3rd baseman. Young is a career 300-hitter, with the ability to score 100 runs and drive in 100. At his age, a .300 avg accompanied by 100 runs and RBIs is unlikely, but my predictions are a .285 avg, 18 home runs, 80 runs and 85 RBIs. Don’t draft Young early just because of his name, but keep in mind that he will produce and is very consistent.

OF Ben Revere – He got his first real chance to play in the majors in 2011. He wasn’t too productive at the plate, but he made some highlight reel plays in center field, and showed off his electrifying speed in the outfield and on the base paths. The 2012 season was a different story, however. Although he was a corner outfielder because the Twins had Denard Span in CF, Revere possesses the talent and speed to one day be a gold glove center fielder. He had 150 hits, 40 steals, a .294 batting average, a 333 OBP, and 70 runs in 124 games in 2012. These can all be compared to his 2011 season, in which he had 120 hits, 34 steals, a .267 batting average, a 310 OBP, and 56 runs in 117 games. As you can see, he improved in the 5 major stat categories that a player with his skill set needs to produce, in order to be successful. He isn’t a top 20 fantasy outfielder by any means (with the exception of NL only leagues), but he can offer you avg, SB, and runs. Expect him to attempt more steals in the National League, as well as score more runs on a stronger offensive ball club. My predictions for Revere in 2013 is a .290 batting avg, 47 SB, and 90 runs.

OF Delmon Young – He never developed into the MLB player that everyone expected him to be, when he was drafted 1st overall by the Tampa Bay Rays, in the 2003 draft. He had one break-out season in 2010, when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins. That season he set a career high in hits (170), home runs (21), RBIs (112), and batting average (.298). Since then, he has not been able to put together a complete season. He was used primarily as a DH last year, and will be asked to be an everyday outfielder in Philly. Due to his defensive deficiencies, he may end up losing at-bats to one of the younger Phillies outfielders, such as Dominic Brown or John Mayberry Jr. Until he proves that he can play OF everyday and adjust to the national league pitchers,  Young is a low to mid-level fantasy option. One positive is that he’s coming from the Detroit Tigers, who play in a pitchers ball park, so his power numbers should improve. If Young is an everyday player, I predict for him to hit in the middle of the Phillies lineup, and have a .280 avg with 65 runs, 85 RBIs, 20 home runs and 3-5 stolen bases.

All in all, I expect the Phillies to be a competitive team and surprise a lot of people. They have a number of players who can impact your fanasy rosters, so don’t ignore them come draft day.

Louis Friedlander
Twitter Handle- @In_Lou_Of

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