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March 08, 2023

Phillies 2023 preview: Bryson Stott officially makes the switch to second

After a rookie season that saw the 25-year old establish himself as an everyday big-leaguer – and with Jean Segura on to Miami – Stott should be the guy at second going forward.

The Phillies are in the midst of an important spring training. After finishing the 2022 season just two wins shy of a World Series title, the defending NL champions will have to quiet the doubters again — this time with an even higher payroll and tougher expectations to match.

Philly currently carries +1600 odds to win the World Series in 2023, the eighth best via OddsShark. They are third to win the NL East (+325) behind the Braves and Mets.

Before the team hits the field in Arlington to open their 2023 campaign against the Texas Rangers on March 30, we're going to take a deep dive into each positional group.

Today's look is at second base...

Scouting report

Rumors connecting Trea Turner to the Phillies started as early as last summer and with them always came a presumed switch from shortstop to second base for Byson Stott. 

By November, although Turner had yet to sign with the club, they were barely trying to hide it. 

"I said 'What do you prefer, shortstop or second base?'" manager Rob Thomson recalled in a conversation with Stott at the end of last season"He said 'big leagues.' He said 'It doesn't matter to me.' So he's prepared to do anything."

Turner put pen to paper on a $300 million mega deal to become the Phillies' new star shortstop soon after, and when it came time for everyone to report to Clearwater, Stott arrived listed as a second baseman. 

So no more dancing around it anymore. 

After a rookie season that saw the 25-year old establish himself as an everyday big-leaguer – and with Jean Segura on to Miami – Stott's the guy at second going forward. 

Surface level, his 2022 numbers aren't super impressive. In 127 games and 466 plate appearances, Stott hit just .234 with 10 home runs, 19 doubles, and a .653 OPS. But look into his splits by month and you can see a clear progression:

March/April .133/.161/.167 
May .116/.192/.140 
June .238/.315/.413 14 
July.226/.294/.381 11 
August .287/.337/.426 
Sept./Oct. .271/.324/.385 10 

He also started 41 of those games at second base, giving up no errors and fielding a perfect 1.000 when he did. He won't stay perfect like that as the sample size gets bigger, but his athleticism should serve well at the position defensively, especially with the new restrictions placed on the shift.

NL East picture

The two teams the Phillies are expected to be fighting over the division for are returning with established vets in place. 

The Braves will have Ozzie Albies back from an injury-plagued 2022, while the Mets will have NL batting champion Jeff McNeil back on a fresh four-year, $50 million contract extension.

The Marlins' situation is maybe the most interesting. Jazz Chisholm Jr. has converted into an outfielder, and after signing Jean Segura in the offseason, they'll have him move from second to third so that AL batting champion Luis Arraez, who they acquired from the Twins in January can play second. 

The Nationals, meanwhile, will run with Luis García, the youngest of the bunch.

Here's how their 2022 stats and conservative 2023 projections compare (via Baseball Reference):

Team  Second Baseman (Age)2022 Stats 2023 Projections Career WAR 
Phillies Bryson Stott (25) .234/.295/.358
10 HR, 49 RBI 
10 HR, 46 RBI 
Braves Ozzie Albies (26) .247/.294/.409
8 HR, 35 RBI 
15 HR, 56 RBI 
Mets Jeff McNeil (30) .326/.382/.454
9 HR, 62 RBI 
10 HR, 53 RBI 
Marlins Luis Arraez (25) .316/.375/.420
8 HR, 49 RBI 
7 HR, 50 RBI
Nationals Luis García (22)  .275/.295/.408
7 HR, 45 RBI
9 HR, 46 RBI 

Depth and the future

On off days or when the lineup gets shuffled up, Edmundo Sosa or Josh Harrison can fill in for Stott. 

But at 25 and only expected to improve from his rookie season onward, the former 2019 first-round pick should be the main guy at second for the foreseeable future. 

On the farm, the Phillies do have 2021 international signing Hao-Yu Lee developing in high-A ball as their fifh-ranked prospect, and Nikau Pouaka-Grego, an 18-year old from New Zealand who can jump between second and third and hit .301 in rookie ball last season, is ranked 29th. 

Both are a long ways off, however.

Phillies season preview
C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | DH | OF | SP | RP

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