March 13, 2023
The Phillies are in the midst of an important spring training. After finishing the season two wins from a championship, 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 central Texas to open their 2023 campaign against the Rangers on March 30, we're going to take a deep dive into each positional group.
Let's take a look at the guys who will be patrolling the Phils' outfield...
The Phillies will roll out the same starting outfield on Opening Day that they had on their magical run to the World Series last fall.
Masher Kyle Schwarber will be out in left field, making Phillies fans hold their breath every time a ball is hit toward the gap, but Schwarber more than makes up for it in the batter's box. Schwarber whacked a National League-best 46 home runs in 2022 while working as the Phils' leadoff hitter. His spot in the lineup was controversial. It's not where I would've hit Schwarber, but baseball is such a "vibes" sport when it comes to the clubhouse and batting order that if Schwarber and the rest of the players were on board with that setup, a setup that had them win the NL pennant for the first time in 13 years, it worked itself out well enough.
He'll be moved down a few spots in the order in 2023, likely to the cleanup spot, with the addition of All-Star Trea Turner, a perfect leadoff man for the Fightins. Schwarber "only" had 94 RBI last year despite that massive home run total, and I expect that number to rise with the likes of Turner, J.T. Realmuto and eventually Bryce Harper hitting in front of him.
If you need your Schwarber fix while he's in the World Baseball Classic, watch him crank this three-run homer in Team USA's 6-2 win over Great Britain on Saturday night:
JUST AS GLORIOUS AS A BALD EAGLE IN FLIGHT— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 12, 2023
Kyle Schwarber 3-run homer for USA! 🇺🇸🦅 pic.twitter.com/4gN3XnAu7A
Another SchwarberFest in June can't come soon enough for Phillies fans.
Moving on to centerfield, the Phillies traded for Brandon Marsh from the Angels for the stretch run in 2022, dealing former first-overall pick Mickey Moniak for the wet-haired, caveman-looking Marsh. If the Phillies had gotten the same production from Moniak they did from Marsh during that lead-up to the Fall Classic, this city would've been pretty happy.
Maybe Marsh will deliver another moment like this in the playoffs in 2023:
MARSH MASH 💥 3-run homer for Brandon Marsh!— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 15, 2022
📺: FS1 and the FOX Sports App pic.twitter.com/SvIXszQ5zS
I don't necessarily believe Marsh has a high ceiling offensively as a career .248 hitter with a .667 OPS, but the ability he brings with his glove offsets his deficiencies at the plate. With the sluggers the Phils have in their lineup, that's a fair trade-off. That's doubly so because Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, to be frank, stink as fielders.
That's a decent segue to Castellanos in right. To say Castellanos struggled in his first season in red pinstripes after inking a deal worth $100 million last March would be an understatement. Fresh off a 2021 All-Star campaign with the Reds where he bashed 34 homers and picked up a Silver Slugger Award, Castellanos fell off a cliff in Philly. His .694 OPS was the worst mark of his career. His 13 homers were his fewest since his rookie season in 2014. That's just not what the Phillies signed up for and the player he truly is.
I'm expecting a bounce-back year from Castellanos in 2023. Hey, there's essentially nowhere to go but up. A year where he belts 25-30 homers should be in the cards. There's legit power in this outfield between Schwarber and him.
The Phillies also have a two-time MVP right fielder on their squad in Harper, but as the Phils' best player recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery, he'll likely be relegated to DH duty once he's back in the fold this summer. It's unclear when Harper could return to playing right field, if at all in 2023, so I will only give him a passing mention here and discuss him more thoroughly in Tuesday's designated hitter preview.
The Phillies have pop in their outfield and Marsh was a sharp midseason pickup from last year, but Atlanta has the best outfield here. Sorry, Phils fans! Ronald Acuña Jr. will contend for the National League MVP Award as he settles into his prime and Michael Harris II was on a tear in 2022, playing solid centerfield, posting an OPS of .853 and being named National League Rookie of the Year along the way.
|Team||Left Field (age)||2022 stats||2023 proj||Career WAR|
|Phillies||Kyle Schwarber (30)||.218, 46 HR, 94 RBI||.233, 34 HR, 77 RBI||11.2|
|Mets||Mark Canha (34)||.266, 13 HR, 61 RBI||.246, 13 HR, 57 RBI||12.5|
|Braves||Eddie Rosario (31)||.212, 5 HR, 24 RBI||.241, 11 HR, 47 RBI||11.3|
|Marlins||Bryan De La Cruz (26)||.252, 13 HR, 43 RBI||.262, 12 HR, 44 RBI||13.7|
|Nationals||Corey Dickerson (34)||.267, 6 HR, 36 RBI||.258, 8 HR, 38 RBI||13.7|
|Team||Centerfield (age)||2022 stats||2023 proj||Career WAR|
|Phillies||Brandon Marsh (25)||.245, 11 HR, 52 RBI||.252, 10 HR, 47 RBI||1.8|
|Mets||Brandon Nimmo (30)||.274, 16 HR, 64 RBI||.272, 14 HR, 52 RBI||17.2|
|Braves||Michael Harris II (22)||.297, 19 HR, 64 RBI||.290, 16 HR, 57 RBI||5.3|
|Marlins||Jazz Chisholm Jr. (25)||.254, 14 HR, 45 RBI||.251, 15 HR, 48 RBI||4.9|
|Nationals||Victor Robles (26)||.224, 6 HR, 33 RBI||.226, 7 HR, 35 RBI||6.4|
|Team||Right field (age)||2022 stats||2023 proj||Career WAR|
|Phillies||Nick Castellanos (31)||.263, 13 HR, 62 RBI||.269, 20 HR, 71 RBI||12.3|
|Mets||Starling Marte (34)||.292, 16 HR, 63 RBI||.286, 13 HR, 56 RBI||38.7|
|Braves||Ronald Acuña Jr. (25)||.266, 15 HR, 50 RBI||.268, 21 HR, 58 RBI||17.5|
|Marlins||Avisaíl García (32)||.224, 8 HR, 35 RBI||.241, 14 HR, 52 RBI||9.8|
|Nationals||Lane Thomas (27)||.241, 17 HR, 52 RBI||.238, 14 HR, 49 RBI||2.9|
The Phils have big-time money tied up in Schwarber and Castellanos after signing them to lucrative contracts last offseason. Each will make $20 million annually going forward. Schwarber will be a free agent after the 2025 season and Castellanos will be one after the 2026 season. Marsh can't become a free agent until after 2027. Again, that was such an under-the-radar shrewd move by this front office back in August.
As for the talent pipeline coming from the minors, the Phillies are stacked with pitching prospects between Andrew Painter, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry (more on them on Wednesday!). Five of their top-10 prospects on MLB.com, however, are outfielders. Justin Crawford, son of four-time All-Star Carl Crawford, was the Phils' first-round pick (17th overall) in 2022. At 19, he isn't projected to make the majors until 2026, but the traits are there with a good bat tool and the athleticism to be a great fielder and a threat on the base path.
For someone who could provide a more immediate boost, there's Johan Rojas. In his age-21 campaign in 2022 split between Double-A Reading and Single-A+ Jersey Shore, Rojas scored 82 runs and swiped an outrageous 62 bags while being caught stealing just five times in 120 games. He needs to catch up as a hitter, however, with just a .663 OPS. As a right-handed hitter, maybe he could end up finding himself in a platoon role with Marsh later in 2023. Just throwing it out there... how about him being on the postseason roster this fall and having a momentum-shifting, Dave Roberts-esque steal against the Mets in the NLDS? I can see the vision.
Follow Shamus & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @shamus_clancy | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Shamus' RSS feed to your feed reader