by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With a long-term agreement with Scott Kingery in place (he signed a 6-year, $24 million contract that included options that could take the deal through 2026) the concerns about “starting his clock” have disappear.ed That has led to Kingery making the Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, creating more questions than answers. We all know that Carlos Santana is going to be the starting first baseman (or Rhys Hoskins, if something were to happen), but how do things stand beyond that?
The pressure is on for the other three players, who now need to produce or find themselves pinned to the bench. What about Kingery? Will there be enough AB to make him viable from Day 1? First let’s take a quick look at Kingery, then we’ll rank the other three, based on who is most likely to lose their job:
It appears like the Phillies are initially going to deploy him as a super utility player, seeing time all across the diamond. Primarily viewed as a second baseman (303 career games), he also saw time this spring at shortstop (2 career games) and third base (4 career games). There also are whispers of him seeing time in the outfield, despite never playing a professional game there.
Potentially adding eligibility across the board only adds to the appeal of a player who shined this spring:
.392 (20-51), 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, 4 SB
Even with the removal of service time concerns, it doesn’t make sense for the Phillies to carry him on the roster without giving him AB. Maybe he doesn’t play every day, but 4-5 days a week? With the flexibility they see it makes sense, and that’s going to give him significant value. Graded as an “A-“ prospect, keep in mind what we said about him on our prospect site (click here for our Phillies’ Top 10 prospects):
Even more important is that he showed an impressive approach, with a 9.5% SwStr% overall (and he improved to 8.8% at Triple-A). He may not draw a ton of walks, with a 6.8% walk rate, but he has power, an ability to make consistent contact and has already proven to be an efficient base runner (29-for-34 in SB attempts). You put it all together and you get a second baseman who could easily go .280/20/20, with the potential for even more. That’s a potential All-Star type line.
In other words, consider him a must own option in all formats immediately.
The Fallout For The Rest:
While he did slug 6 HR with 15 RBI this spring, it has come with a .200 average and a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate. In other words, it’s easy to argue that the light will shine brightest on Franco and his potential production. Keep in mind this note, courtesy of our 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
While he doesn’t strikeout a ton (15.2% in ’17), he does swing and miss too much against both breaking balls (18.15% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (21.21%). Those issues translate to his power (9 HR against non-fastballs), so you have to wonder if he’ll see fewer and fewer fastballs… Of course he already saw 54.32% last season, so it may not be able to go much lower. Maybe we get an improvement in his luck (.234 BABIP), and that will help, but unless he can adjust against non-fastballs the value is capped.
Given the makeup of the lineup you could easily argue that a 25 HR hitter isn’t a need and if he’s again struggling to hit .240 it will be easy for the team to move on. As of today consider him the most likely to lose his starting job.
Chance of Losing Job – 65%
The current starter at Kingery’s natural position, you could argue that Hernandez will ultimately be the most impacted player. However he is penciled in as the leadoff hitter, and while Carlos Santana could be viewed as an alternative the value of Hernandez can’t be completely discounted.
The switch-hitter is coming off a year where he hit .294 with 9 HR and 15 SB, carrying a .373 OBP ( he owns a .357 career OBP), so you can’t discount his value. He also has seen a little bit of time at shortstop (21 games) and third base (24 games) throughout his career, so it’s possible that he’s moved off the position if the Phillies are more comfortable with him in the super utility role.
While it’s possible that his value diminishes, don’t expect it to completely disappear due to this news. He is a valuable piece of the lineup, and one that the Phillies don’t necessarily have a replacement for today.
Chance of Losing Job – 40%
The trade of Freddy Galvis cleared a spot for Crawford, and while there’s a chance he struggles with the bat it’s his defense that should keep him in the lineup on most days. As noted by MLB.com:
While just an average runner, Crawford’s range, hands and arm all make him a plus defender at his premium position.
That’s going to make him more valuable than the others, who bring with them significant defensive risk if put at shortstop full-time. You can argue that his upside with the bat isn’t very high (think .260/10/7, with the potential for less) but there is some upside and he’s the best defender at a premium position. That doesn’t make him a necessarily attractive option (we have him ranked as the #23 shortstop entering the year), but in deeper formats his value should remain unchanged.
Chance of Losing Job – 20%
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|