by Ray Kuhn
If you weren’t paying attention to the Philadelphia Phillies in the second half of last season you are not alone. The Phillies are in the process of rebuilding, and the product on the field left a lot to be desired. That doesn’t mean that fantasy owners should be ignoring the situation. Even if they might not be trying to win on the field, they are still fielding a team filled with young players and varying degrees of potential, bringing us to Tommy Joseph.
It wasn’t a secret that the Phillies were phasing Ryan Howard out, with his performance not doing him any favors, but Joseph made sure the veteran spent a lot of time on the bench late in the year. He also ensured that he will be opening the 2017 season starting at first base and batting in the middle of their lineup.
In his first professional season, 2010, Joseph hit 16 HR while driving in 68 runs and followed that up with 22 HR and 95 RBI in 2011. Injuries then hijacked the next four years as he fell off the prospect radar while hitting just 25 HR and ultimately being moved to first base.
Joseph got off to scorching start last season as he hit .347 in 100 AB in Triple-A with 6 HR and 17 RBI prior to his promotion. The slugger is a power threat, but that doesn’t mean he is without concern.
When he was initially promoted the understanding was that he would be platooning with Howard due to his splits. While Joseph clearly has an advantage against southpaws, he was serviceable against right-handed pitching as hit 14 of his 21 HR against RHP with a .248 batting average (.774 OPS) while hitting .284 (912 OPS) when benefiting from his platoon advantage. That was enough to overtake Howard for the majority of the playing time.
Overall Joseph hit .257 while driving in 47 runs in 347 AB while managing his strikeout concern. Making contact has been an issue, and his 78% contact rate could be worse as he struck out 75 times to go along with 22 walks. It will continue to be something to monitor, especially as he adjusts to playing a full season, but there is enough to work with to consider him a sleeper option.
While we can’t count on Joseph hitting much more than .250, you can’t deny his power. Per Baseball HQ hehad a Power Index, and expected power, of 144 last season while also having a Hard Contact rate of 16% above the league average. Those are skills Joseph owns, and there is a real upside for 30 HR.
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|