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March 26, 2019

Phillies predictions, picks, projections: Experts don't know what to make of 2019 Phillies

We are very close to the first pitch of the 2019 baseball season and for the first time in years, Phillies fans have a real reason to be interested in awards and World Series picks — as Philadelphia has a chance of being in the conversation come the fall in both categories.

Aaron Nola nearly pitched well enough to win a Cy Young award last season, finishing third behind Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the end of his first All-Star season. Bryce Harper is always an MVP candidate, and J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura are also potential All-Stars in 2019.

And with the roster overhauled and resembling that of a playoff team, they may be relevant for the first fall in eight years at Citizens Bank Park.

Here's what we found from scouring the internet as we take a peak at expert picks for the Phillies and the 2019 season:

•  Sports Illustrated Staff:  Stakes bigger than Harper’s new deal

The SI Staff wrote six words about each MLB team's upcoming season. Their Phillies take is above.

• Hoskins wins RBI crown, Harper third for NL MVP

Will Leitch makes one bold prediction for each MLB team, and gives the Phillies' first baseman a lot of love, citing his place in the batting order behind Harper, Segura and Andrew McCutchen as a big reason why. He has the chance to be the most productive slugger in the NL.

David Adler, another writer, expects that Harper will come very close to winning the MVP award in 2019, slotting him third with the following explanation:

Bryce finally has his new team, and a good portion of our experts think he's going to add a second MVP Award to his trophy case in his first year in Philadelphia. Harper, who signed a free-agent record $330 million contract to join the Phillies, enters his age-26 season already with six All-Star nods, the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL MVP Award to his name. He hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs for the Nationals last year. Just five votes separated Arenado, Goldschmidt and Harper in our NL MVP poll.

• Phillies miss playoffs

In another piece by's Adler, the baseball writer predicts the division winners and playoff results. The Phillies are not mentioned, and Adler expects the Nationals to win the division with the Cubs and Braves competing in the Wild Card round.

•  Alden Gonzalez,  Phillies win NL East

The entire staff of ESPN made predictions and the Nationals got the most votes with 13. However Philly wasn't far behind receiving 11 votes. The fans voting, more than 28,000 of them, also picked the Phillies by a huge margin over Washington (45 percent to 14 percent). Here is the reasoning of one ESPN expert:

The Phillies were in the hunt for a playoff spot last season -- at least a year earlier than expected -- before stumbling through an 8-20 September. Then they added J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson. Oh, and that Bryce Harper guy. The NL East is supremely talented, but this feels like the Phillies' time.

For what it's worth, three ESPNers picked the Phillies to win the Pennant, but none picked them to win the World Series (the Astros got 14 votes, the Dodgers and Yankees for four apiece).

•  Zachary Rymer, Bleacher Report: Aaron Nola wins Cy Young, Phillies miss playoffs

BR pledges their allegiance to the Nationals in the NL East, and goes as far as to pick both the Rockies and the Mets over Philadelphia for the two Wild Card spots. The website cites the Mets superior pitching staff and their solid floor of 85 wins (their words not ours) as for why they think New York will finish second in the division.

There is a small consolation prize from Bleacher Report, however, as Nola — according to them — will be the best pitcher in the National League in 2019: 

Though Jacob deGrom was a runaway winner in NL Cy Young Award voting, Aaron Nola had a higher WAR than him or any other pitcher last season. And he might be even better in 2019. 
Nola, 25, mixes pinpoint command with a mix of four above-average pitches. He's thus the kind of pitcher who can miss bats and keep hard contact to a minimum, and he was doing more of the former while he was striking out 10.0 batters per nine innings in the second half of 2018.
If he keeps that up, he could waltz to the NL Cy Young Award in 2019.

•  CBSSports Staff: Phillies make playoffs

CBS sports polled their five baseball writers and four of them had love for the Phillies. Mike Axisa predicts Philly will win the NL East, while every other writer except for Dayn Perry has the Phils winning one of the two NL Wild Card spots. None of the five writers expects Philadelphia to advance a round in the postseason, with three of the quintet projecting Washington as a World Series team. All five have an AL team winning the Fall Classic (three for the Astros and two for the Yankees).

•  John Stolnis, The Good Phight: Phillies make the World Series 

John Stolnis is quite high on his hometown Phillies, and makes 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season. In addition to projecting the team will have five All-Stars and a breakout season for Nick Pivetta, he has high expectations for the team as a whole:

Last year, I picked the Phils to reach the playoffs and, for a little while there, it looked like I was going to get that one right. However, they fell short. This year, I’m all-in again. 
I think the Phils will make the postseason and get all the way to the Fall Classic. Do they win it all? You’ll have to wait for our official 2019 Predictions post that will be hitting this fine website later this week.

• Tim Kelly, Phillies Nation: Phillies win the NL Wild Card

Phillies Nation is a bit more down to earth with his Phillies projection. He expects the team will finish second, behind the Nationals, in the NL East with 88 wins and fall in the Wild Card round.

Roto Champ‘s record projections are probably the most reliable, because they are an aggregate of FanGraphs, Davenport and Baseball Prospectus (PECOTA). The Braves are currently projected to finish in fourth place, with 84 wins. The Phillies are expected to win 88 games, which would allow them to finish in second place, between the Nationals and Mets. While the system may be higher on the Mets than we are here, it’s a very real possibility that to return to the postseason in 2019, the Phillies will have to win one of the two National League Wild Card spots for the first time in franchise history.

Mark Gallant, The Action Network: Phillies finish 4th in NL East

The Action Network, a gambling tips website, lists 10 "best bets" for the upcoming season. Their Phillies take doesn't exactly inspire confidence:

Though betting on the Phillies to finish 4th in the NL East isn’t an option, at least not that I’ve seen, I’m still adding it to the list. With all of their flashy additions, most books have made them the favorites to win the NL East, but I’m not sold on them and neither is Fangraphs, who has the Nationals winning the division more than half the time. Very happy about my Nats +300 NL East ticket. 
While the Nats are the favorite in my heart, the Mets and Braves will also be competing for the division title. All of these teams are projected to be within a handful of wins of each other, and it’s possible that a few reach the 90-win threshold. If the Phillies are a couple wins in either direction of 85, they’re in jeopardy of finishing 4th.

Paul Dybas, NBC Sports: Bryce Harper wins NL MVP

In perhaps the most surprising pick of this article, Washington DC's own Paul Dybas thinks Bryce Harper will win NL MVP in Citizens Bank Park — however this still may be a selection tainted with bias, as Dybas watched Harper up close and personal with the Nationals..

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