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And the Phillies 2018 Opening Day lineup is...
by Scott Butler 3/29/18

Phillies

Opening Day is finally here and now we get to play the lineup card game. What names will appear on Gabe Kapler's first lineup card?

To say that Kapler is a different manager - dare I say bold? - would be putting it mildly. He will most likely put his mark on the franchise before the players even take the field when he bats Aaron Nola eighth. It's not like Kapler invented the concept, but to do it on Opening Day shows that this is just the beginning of some of the oddities we will see throughout the season.

Different is another word we could use to describe the Kapler-led Phils, and the same will be true of today's lineup card. Rarely will a team post the same lineup, or even a similar lineup, from one year to the next. The 2018 Phillies will not come close to replicating Pete Mackanin's opener from last season. Just three players from last season's opening lineup - Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera - will appear on this one.

Let's get right to it!

Here's my prediction for the Opening Day lineup card:

1. Cesar Hernandez 2B

2. Carlos Santana 1B

3. Odubel Herrera CF

4. Rhys Hoskins LF

5. Nick Williams RF

6. Maikel Franco 3B

7. Jorge Alfaro C

8. Aaron Nola RHP

9. J.P. Crawford SS

There's plenty of debate around the effectiveness of batting the pitcher eighth, but in this case it makes a lot of sense. Crawford has the type of on-base abilities that makes him an ideal second leadoff hitter. Having a patient hitter like Crawford bat in front of the pitcher almost wastes his greatest talent if teams plan on pitching around the 8-hole hitter anyway. Free-swinging Jorge Alfaro would benefit more from having the pitcher behind him, and his power stays closer to the middle of the lineup.

If there is one change to this lineup, it might be in right field. Williams seems the logical choice over his platoon partner Aaron Altherr considering Altherr is just 2-for-16 (.125) with one home run, three walks, and nine strikeouts in his career against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Kapler is likely to allow match ups decide who gets to play, but it would not be surprising if he gives the nod to Altherr as the more veteran of the two outfielders.

The Phillies may not be in store for the drastic improvement we all yearn for this season, but just one glance at last year's Opening Day lineup shows an incredible contrast in talent, at least on paper. You tell me the 2018 squad isn't a vast improvement over Mackanin's lineup card in Cincinnati last season:

1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Howie Kendrick LF
3. Odubel Herrera CF
4. Maikel Franco 3B
5. Michael Saunders RF
6. Tommy Joseph 1B
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Freddy Galvis SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson P

Two of those players (Joseph and Rupp) were simply dumped from the roster, and Michael Saunders? How many fans have already forgotten that he even existed?

Behold the bold new Philadelphia Phillies.

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