90 wins is well within the Phillies' reach in 2020. Here's how they can get there
by Scott Butler 2/19/20

Phillies NL East

Vegas says the Phillies should win roughly 85 games in 2020. PECOTA gives them just 77 wins, 4 LESS than last year's team with a coaching staff that included Gabe freaking Kapler, Chris freaking Young, and John freaking Mallee. It's worth noting that PECOTA pegged the Atlanta Braves for just 83 wins, which might be even more ridiculous.

I would not be at all surprised to see the Phillies' win total begin with the number nine. I came to that conclusion using an extremely high-tech formula that minds inferior to mine could not possibly comprehend. My process was this: go position by position and determine how many wins the Phillies should add or subtract to the total compared to last season. Do the same thing with the bench and coaches, and there you have it.

I'm gonna hit you with a lot of OPS+ here because it takes a player's on-base plus slugging percentage, normalizes it across the entire league, and adjusts so a score of 100 is league average, and 150 is 50 percent better than the league average. Now let's do this thing.


Let's assume for this exercise that Jean Segura plays second base and Scott Kingery plays third base, but Girardi could easily flip that.

Catcher: Same

J.T. Realmuto is about as sure a bet as you can get on this club. He shouldn't deviate much in either direction.

First Base: +2 wins

Rhys Hoskins was one of, if not the worst, players in baseball in the second half of the 2019 season. He seemed like one of the many casualties of a poor coaching staff. If Hoskins thrives under new hitting coach Joe Dillon, look out. Considering Rhys hits right smack in the middle of the lineup, two wins might be an extremely conservative estimate.

Second Base (Jean Segura compared to Cesar Hernandez): Same

Cesar Hernandez was slightly below league average as a hitter last season (90 OPS+) and so was Jean Segura (91 OPS+). Segura seems poised for a better season, but not enough to make a huge difference. Defense should be a wash, too.

Shortstop (Didi Gregorius compared to Jean Segura): +1 wins

Returning from injury last season, Didi's 87 OPS+ was 12 points below his career average and 28 points below his previous two seasons. Which Didi will the Phillies get for their $14 million? I won't begin to pretend to know, so let's say his offense is roughly equal to Segura's last season. The difference maker here is defense, so let's give the Phillies one more win at SS.

Third Base: (Scott Kingery compared to Maikel Franco and others) +1 wins

Phillies third basemen last season had an 82 sOPS+ (not league adjusted and for some reason doesn't show OPS+), while Scott Kingery's OPS+ was 100. Even if Kingery doesn't improve offensively, he should easily add one victory.

Left Field (Andrew McCutchen compared to himself and others): +1 wins

Andrew McCutchen was perfect for this team at the top spot. His replacements after his June 3 injury? Not so much. I am a bit concerned about Cutch returning from a major injury at age 33, but even with a decline, a full year of McCutchen has to be better than what we saw last year.

Center Field (Adam Haseley compared to Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery, and others): Same

Odubel Herrera was a train wreck last season on the field and off. Offensively, his 62 OPS+ put him 38 percent below the league average in 39 games before he got himself arrested, but Scott Kingery did well enough in 65 games and Adam Haseley held his own in 40 games to create an 85 sOPS+ in center. Haseley should be able to do at least that well, but he is still a youngin so keep the win total the same here.

Right Field (Harper compared to Harper): Same

No reason to expect anything significantly better or worse here.

That's +5 wins for the offense.


Let's assume here that Vince Velasquez wins the fifth starter spot, which means Zack Wheeler essentially replaces Nick Pivetta.

Aaron Nola compared to Aaron Nola: Same

Obviously we all hope to see the 2018 version of Aaron Nola, but he most likely will be just a smidge better than last season in which he posted a 3.87 ERA. We'll call it a wash.

Zack Wheeler compared to Nick Pivetta: +2 wins

Even if Wheeler stays around his 3.96 ERA last season or his 3.77 career ERA, he's essentially replacing Nick Pivetta (5.74 ERA in 13 games as a starter), Jason Vargas, Drew Smyly, Cole Irvin, and whoever else was dumped on the mound. If that doesn't add up to two more wins, the Phillies are in big, big trouble.

Jake Arrieta compared to Jake Arrieta: Same

Seen the same show too many times. Please prove me wrong, Jake!

Zach Eflin compared to Zach Eflin: Same

Good for a couple months and bad for a couple months has been the theme for Eflin in his career. Last year he was two completely different pitchers, too. He started with four seamers up, then said "screw this " and went back to his sinkerball past. All of that adds up to...probably close to last season's 4.13 ERA.

Vince Velasquez compared to Vince Velasquez: Same

See Arrieta, Jake.

That's just +2 wins for the starters, but that total could end up being much higher.

Bullpen: No Comment

With the exception of Hector Neris, the names we've seen before are coming off injuries. As for the rest of the 50 gazillion Spring Training invites? Might as well slap some Elmer's glue on 'em, heave them against the wall, and hope they stick. The bullpen could be a complete disaster, it could be a nice improvement, or anything in between. I have absolutely zero opinion here.

Bench: +1 win

This should be higher also for the simple reason that Andrew Knapp and Sean Rodriguez won't be Gabe's - oh thank God, Girardi's - top bench options anymore.

Coaching +2 wins

I wanted to give one win each for the manager, hitting coach, and pitching coach, but let's calm it down a little and keep it at 2.

Injuries: -2 Wins

You never know who will get injured, so let's account for it here.

Grand total: +8 wins, but I just have to add another win here. The Phillies went from one of the worst managers to one of the best, they discarded a hitting coach that the owner himself stepped in to fire, and they replaced a pitching coach who has already been indirectly mocked this spring by Nola and Arrieta with a well respected pitching coach named Bryan Price. You can't tell me that doesn't equate to at least three wins.

So there you go: +9 wins put the Phillies at 90 wins. Hello Playoffs!

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