Recently, I wrote about the pitching projections (Jan. 3, Phillies Pitching Projections) from The Bill James Handbook 2011. Now it is time for the projected starting lineup. Since Manuel has not tipped his hand yet as to what his plans are, you’re left to my own devices and powers of deduction. Several variables apply. Naturally there is the right field situation. Will it be Francisco? Platoon of Gload and Francisco? Domonic Brown? All three? At this point we can only speculate so let’s leave the platoon and contingencies for another debate.
Potential 2011 Phillies starting lineup:
CF Shane Victorino: .279 with 31 doubles, 7 triples, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs and 97 runs scored (.343/.431/.774). I know Manuel has said he would consider hitting Rollins fifth, with Victorino hitting leadoff – but they may get switched. Manuel has also suggested hitting Francisco fifth so who knows what he’s going to do? Truly Shane is a more prototypical leadoff hitter. Rollins has more pop in his bat and is a better clitch hitter and run producer. Best bet is to go with Shane leadoff and JRoll 5th.
3B Placido Polanco: .295 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, 62 RBIs and 83 runs scored. (.342/.391/.733). There has never been a more suitable #2 hitter as he is patient, makes excellent contact and knows how to hit the ball to all fields. With Victorino on base, the hit and run is always in play having Polanco second.
2B Chase Utley: .288 with 34 doubles, 2 triples, 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 99 runs scored and 13 stolen bases (.387/.497/.884). They project Utley to play in just 146 games. If he is healthy, we know Charlie Manuel will have him on the field nearly every game until he keels over from exhaustion. Let’s hope Utley is recovered, healthy and conditioned for a full season. Should be a bounce-back year
1B Ryan Howard: .276 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 43 HR, 133 RBIs and 98 runs scored (.368/.547/.915). Bill James’ crew expects Howard to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2010 which ended with a strikeout to end the NLCS but this is also a man who has socked 58 HR in a season and was the fastest to 200 HR in modern history. Benefit of the doubt should be offered to Howard until he proves otherwise. Besides, can you average 47 HR and 138 RBI per season?
SS Jimmy Rollins: .266 with 33 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 25 stolen bases (.329 OBP/.424 SLG/.753 OPS). They project Rollins to play in just 136 games and this #5 spot could be tricky all season. It has to be either a switch hitter or a righty bat which means Rollins, Victorino or Francisco – unless Ruiz moves way up. Rollins certainly hopes to play in much more than 136. Hitting fifth could actually turn Rollins into a completely different hitter but it will negate any use of his speed as he will be asked to drive in runs. However, if Howard strikes out to end an inning, Rollins would leadoff and this could prove helpful turning the lineup over – which was a foundation of Phillies success in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Werth had all of Jimmy’s tools and drove in a lot of runs in 2010. Werth is gone, Pat Burrell is gone… We’ll see…
LF Raul Ibanez: .270 with 31 doubles, 2 triples, 20 home runs, 83 RBIs and 75 runs scored (.343/.446/.789). John Mayberry or Domonic Brown could be in the mix to platoon but Ibanez will likely play out his contract in red pinstripes. He is a veteran, professional hitter, but his power and skills have declined quickly these past 18 months. Keep your fingers crossed that Raul is “good enough” until something better comes along.
RF Ben Francisco: .271 with 21 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs, 38 RBIs, 42 runs scored and 10 stolen bases (.336/.446/.782). James projected these numbers with Francisco playing in 107 games and getting 303 at-bats. Ross Gload, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry could all see time in the outfield. Francisco will be given the chance to earn a starting role first. If he fails, we’ll talk about contingency plans including free agents or trades
C Carlos Ruiz: .270 with 26 doubles, 1 triple, 9 home runs, 51 RBIs and 46 runs scored (.360/.413/.773). Ruiz was the team MVP and best clutch hitter in 2010 but even at the eight spot, his split focus is to defensively manage the pitching staff and turning over the lineup. Anything else is gravy but Carlos is capable of doing a lot. Let’s hope we don’t have to ask him to be the team’s best hitter in 2011.
league club. Getting him 500 AB in AAA could be the difference between flash-in-the-pan raw rookie and polished, wizened, professional ballplayer. Brown has all five tools but struggled in 2 months with limited AB at end of 2010. They project he will hit .288 with 33 doubles, 4 triples, 26 HR, 94 RBIs, 84 runs scored and 28 SB in 548 at-bats(.346/.505/.851). Those are some seriously huge numbers for a rookie – especially one who is not guaranteed a full-time job. If that happens nobody will be worried about right field or Jayson Werth‘s departure anymore, but think those numbers are high. If they end up accurate, everybody is going to be buying a copy of the handbook for their 2012 fantasy baseball leagues.
Likely that Brown will spend half a season at AAA to hone his skills, tear up the league and join the big league club in July with confidence and momentum. Then the question will be what to do with Francisco/Ibanez. Brown has been rated the #4 overall prospect (of Top 50) rookies or potential rookies in the game.
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With Spring Training ready to begin in less than 30 days, a few big names are still unemployed. There are a few game changers that are available for teams trying to round out their rosters, including Andy Pettitte, Vladimir Guerrero and Nick Johnson, so if you’re not satisfied with your team’s off season moves, get on the phone with your GM and demand they place an offer. Most of these are not bargain basement prices, which is why they are still available.
Feel free to submit your own nicknames for the Phillies 2011 rotation. You can leave suggestions in COMMENTS below.
So what ARE we calling the Phillies 2011 Starting Rotation? FOUR ACES? FOUR HORSEMEN, PHOUR LOCO, FANTASTIC FOUR, MT. PHILMORE, FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, THREE MEN AND A BABY?, FAB FOUR? BIGGER THAN JESUS?, FOUR FOUR FOUR – HOW DO YOU LIKE ME, HOW DO YOU LIKE ME?… FEARSOME FOURSOME?
You decide. Best nickname wins two tickets to Phillies game in 2011
Related Article: Phillies pitching projections http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/phillies-pitcher-projections-for-2011/
Amaro Stands Pat on Phillies Needs http://prosportsblogging.com/city/philadelphia/amaro-stands-pat-on-phillies-needs/
Also stay up to date on all Phillies stories right here at PSB http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org