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July 08, 2020

Phillies centerfield job looks like it is up for grabs

Joe Girardi has a decision to make during camp: Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn in center?

A long, long time ago, we took a look at the Phillies' centerfield situation as we previewed each position on the squad prior to what everyone expected would be Opening Day back in late March.

A lot has changed since then.

With (we hope) baseball's second crack at Opening Day around two weeks away now, a 60-game season will put each player in a virtual pressure cooker as 2020 will hold very little margin for error.

Centerfield is an interesting position for the Phillies. With Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper set to start in the corner spots, center was a pretty glaring weakness in 2019, as seven players combined to start at the spot, led by Scott Kingery — who will be the team's second baseman this season.

Odubel Herrera, Sean Rodriguez and Aaron Altherr are also out of the picture, leaving second-year player (and former first-round pick) Adam Haseley and veteran former second rounder Roman Quinn to split duties this coming campaign. Or maybe not.

"My mind is really open with that spot," manager Joe Girardi told local media members this week. "If one guy emerges, it's one guy. If it's a platoon, it's a platoon. If one guy plays more than the other, we have that. The big thing is we get production out of centerfield. That's what I'm looking for, and that doesn't necessarily mean home runs. That means getting on base and scoring runs and really good defense."

A platoon actually makes some sense, as Quinn, a switch hitter, is better against lefty pitchers and Haseley, a lefty, has done the most damage against right-handers. But with just 60 games, a platoon may not permit anyone to get in a groove with such limited at-bats available.

"I am just going to let it play out and see who rises to the top here," Girardi said.

Girardi, it seems, is familiar with stats from the position last year. In 2019, Phillies centerfielders combined for a positional WAR of -0.1, 16th of 30 team.

2019 Phillies centerfield stats

CategoryStatMLB Rank
Home Runs1919th
Runs scores8021st
Strike outs1904th (most)
Batting average.23220th
On base .30022nd
Fielding runs above avg-1227th
Fielding percentage.98712th

You can see why Girardi mentioned home runs, as well as getting on base and scoring runs. A position that typically features a team's top athlete has seen a whole lot of mediocrity. Defense, in particular, has cost the Phillies several important runs. 

Quinn, probably the fastest Phillie on the 60-man roster right now, could help man center with some pizzazz (if healthy, for once). But Haseley has more power and is younger. He also probably has a higher ceiling of potential.

Both bring different things to the table and both will be in the spotlight as July 24th approaches.

"Rome and I have always pushed each other," said Haseley, who addressed the media Tuesday after a lab mix-up on a COVID-19 test cost him the first few days of summer training. "I came up last year and he's a great teammate and a great person. It's not at all on a personal level, it's just how well can we each do our jobs. While doing that, we can make our team better."

The centerfield job looks like it will most certainly be Haseley's or Quinn's. Former No 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak, who plays center, was not (yet at least) put on the 60-man roster. Nick Williams, the only current roster member to also have started in centerfield during spring training, is more comfortable in a corner spot and is more likely to be on the taxi squad than the Opening Day menu.

Haseley career stats

Year | LevelSlashGamesHR/RBI
2019 | MLB.266/.324/.396675/26
2019 | AAA,AA.276/.360/.4816210/30
2018 | AA,A.305/.361/.43311811/55
2017 | A, Rookie.284/.357/.405 583/28
2017 | College.390/.491/.6595814/56

Quinn MLB stats

Year | Level Slash  GamesHR/RBI 
2019 | MLB.213/.298/.370444/11
2018 | MLB.260/.317/.412502/12
2016 | MLB.263/.373/.333150/6

Quinn minor league stats

Slash  GamesHR/RBI 
8 MiLB seasons.280/.355/.40744128/148

From the sample above, it's clear that Quinn has had a lot more career pro at bats, but Haseley has shown a lot more power. It's worth mentioning that Quinn has 186 minor league stolen bases with 23 more in the big leagues. In addition to being sent down multiple times, Quinn also has battled a bevy of injuries over his career, which has certainly stifled any momentum he may have had toward being an everyday centerfielder for the Phils.

Haseley struggled in Clearwater, hitting .194 over 21 at bats. Quinn hit .261 with two homers in 23 at bats.

After three-plus months off, it's now time for their 2020 auditions to continue.

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