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Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome Your 2023 Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies stunned the baseball world in October, going from reaching their first postseason in 11 years to winning the NL pennant in 20 days. They hope to build on that success in 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Welcome Your 2023 Philadelphia Phillies

In the grand scheme of a franchise that has been around for 140 years, 33 days may not seem like much. But what the Philadelphia Phillies accomplished between Oct. 3, 2022, when they ended the National League’s longest active postseason drought, and Nov. 5, when a titanic home run by Yordan Álvarez burst the bubble of the 87-win National League champions, will linger for years to come.

The question, of course, is in what way that legacy will manifest. The Phillies are not a franchise that is known for consistent success, or even success in general. There are just three multi-year postseason streaks in their history, and even in a perfect world, everything that’s happened to the Phillies since last October would be dizzying. The 2023 season has not even begun, and they are already back at the center of the baseball world for reasons both good and bad.

It will be tempting to compare everything to that glorious month last autumn, when the Phillies captivated their city after a decade of making their fans feel like they were being held captive. In releasing the constant pressure of their postseason drought, they unlocked a new level of confidence and excitement. Incredibly, a roster with just three players who had been past the Division Series before 2022 figured out exactly how the harness it.

The Phillies built something truly special last year. It is never easy to sustain good things, and part of why last year’s run felt so intoxicating was the brashness of it all. The Phillies will be on everyone’s radar this season. 22 teams will visit Citizens Bank Park this regular season, and all of them will see a large, blue flag with “2022” inscribed on it to commemorate the song, swings and stories that will live forever. In the simplest terms, 2023 is just one more chapter in Major League Baseball’s 148-year journey. It is one of the more important and already one of the most chaotic in the history of one of its oldest franchises — and that’s coming off a year where they fired their manager in June, lost their best player for most of the summer and popped champagne four times.

So, it is important to be familiar with the people who will tell its tale. There will be many more than just the 26 that wear grey uniforms at Globe Life Field Thursday who contribute to the 2023 Phillies. But these are the people we know will be a part of the ride. Here is what you need to know about every member of the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies — in three sentences or less.

Starting Lineup (New Addition, *Rookie)

SS Trea Turner (2022 – LAD: .298/.343/.466, 21 HR, 100 RBI, 27 SB, 4.9 bWAR)

Between the World Baseball Classic and Spring Training, few players enter the regular season with as much momentum as Turner. The Phillies have not had a 30-base stealer since Ben Revere swiped 49(!) bags in 2014, whose career home run total is one more than Turner’s mark from last June alone. Jimmy Rollins comparisons shouldn’t come lightly, and based on Turner’s resume, they probably won’t.

DH Kyle Schwarber (2022: .218/.323/.504, 46 HR, 94 RBI, 10 SB, 2.2 bWAR)

Fans probably would’ve been concerned if they were told Schwarber would hit .218 in his first season as a Phillie, which seems ridiculous given how positive his season was. The team’s injury situation will once again emphasize Schwarber’s importance as both a slugger and a leader — probably closer to the middle of the order this time around. For the record, 10 steals in 11 tries isn’t bad for a lead-off hitter in 2022.

C J.T. Realmuto (2022: .276/.342/.478, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 21 SB, 6.5 bWAR)

Realmuto’s numbers are even more impressive when you consider 1) he was slashing .237/.316/.364 when Bryce Harper went down and 2) only Iván Rodríguez had ever hit 20 homers and stolen 20 bases in the same season as a catcher. He finished 2022 tied for seventh in baseball in bWAR and NL MVP voting. Is it a coincidence his production took off around the same time he stopped using “Fancy Like” as one of his walk-up songs?

1B Darick Hall (2022: .250/.282/.522, 9 HR, 16 RBI, 0.4 bWAR)

Suddenly, Hall is a critical figure in the team’s 2023 plans. The Phillies would not have made the postseason without Hall admirably stepping in for Bryce Harper for two months, but it is possible a full-season role could expose him even if he only plays against righties. But Hall has earned his chance, even if it took a freak injury for it to arise — now, everything is in his hands.

RF Nick Castellanos (2022: .263/.305/.389, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 7 SB, 0.0 bWAR)

Castellanos’ struggles stemmed from an inability to lay off down-and-away breaking pitches and drive the ball to the opposite field. He needs to reverse at least one of those trends to be worth the big contract he signed last summer. It would be foolish to ignore the personal and otherwise out-of-his-hands circumstances, but the pressure to produce will only grow until Castellanos flips the switch, fair or not.

2B Bryson Stott (2022: .234/.295/.358, 10 HR, 49 RBI, 12 SB, 1.2 bWAR)

Stott graded out in the 74th percentile in Outs Above Average last season, with his value almost entirely coming at his new position, second base. When Stott drove the ball out of the infield, he often went the other way, although all of his home runs were pulled. The 25-year-old should be stronger in his sophomore season, making a 20-20 season possible if not probable.

3B Alec Bohm (2022: .280/.315/.398, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, 0.8 bWAR)

Bohm’s progress at the plate was not as linear as his development in the field — he only cleared a .700 OPS in April and July — but it was still there. It’s there this spring, too, as Bohm is launching the ball in the air and seems more comfortable going to all fields. If Bohm can elevate while not abandoning his opposite-field approach but improving his ability to turn on fastballs, there is tantalizing potential, but all of that is a lot to ask of someone who has cleared 400 at-bats in a big league season once.

LF Jake Cave (2022 – .213/.260/.384, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB, 0.6 bWAR)

Cave was one of several players battling for a bench spot who raked during Spring Training. His experience, career .744 OPS against righties and ability to play center field make him the front-runner. Just when you thought the days of waiver claims starting on Opening Day for the Phillies were done, they pull you back in.

CF Brandon Marsh (2022 – LAA/PHI: .245/.295/.384, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 10 SB, 1.6 bWAR)

The new rule changes emphasize the importance for Marsh, 89th percentile in sprint seed, to cut down on strikeouts. If he does, maybe he and Stott gets some looks near the top of the order and Schwarber moves into the heart of the lineup. Yes, he is still the youngest member of the team.

Bench

C Garrett Stubbs (2022: .264/.350/.462, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB, 0.9 bWAR)

Stubbs took 34 more plate appearances last year than he did in his first three Major League seasons, establishing himself as the team’s backup catcher. The Phillies will still lean on Realmuto heavily, but maybe he plays more first base with Rhys Hoskins sidelined. An interesting trend for a lefty-heavy Phillies lineup: Stubbs crushed southpaws last season (1.179 OPS), albeit in a minuscule 29 plate appearances.

2B Josh Harrison (2022 – CHW: .256/.317/.370, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB, 1.4 bWAR)

Harrison went from being discarded in favor of Neil Walker by the Phillies in 2020 to a valuable utility player in the last three seasons for the Nationals and White Sox. The Phillies made a somewhat similar bet last offseason that failed in Johan Camargo, but his prior three seasons were less encouraging. Harrison played 139 innings in the outfield in 2021 but just eight a season ago and has played just 10 innings in his career in center field.

SS Edmundo Sosa (2022 – STL/PHI: .227/.275/.369, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB, 1.4 bWAR)

Few Phillies had a more active spring than Sosa. He adjusted his swing and learned to play center field. He may be the first player since Dave Roberts whose most iconic moment came via a postseason pinch-running appearance, although he will receive plenty of chances to one-up that in 2023.

RF Dalton Guthrie (2022: .333/.500/.476, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 0.4 bWAR)*

His Twitter bio says he’s a shortstop, but he’s also played second, third, all three outfield positions this spring. He is technically on the roster but will likely be replaced by Cristian Pache, a former top prospect whom the Phillies acquired yesterday from Oakland. But Guthrie will still likely play a role at some point this season.

Rotation

RHP Aaron Nola (2022: 3.25 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 6.0 bWAR)

Only Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton have made more consecutive Opening Day starts than the team’s 2014 1st-round pick. The numbers (correctly) suggested positive regression to the mean last year, but credit Nola for drastically improving his execution with two strikes. The first pitcher in the modern era to strike out more than 230 hitters and walk fewer than 30 in the same season is going to get paid big time in seven and a half months — the only question is by who.

RHP Zack Wheeler (2022: 2.82 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 5.1 bWAR)

Some of the concerns about Wheeler in 2022 after throwing a career-high 213.1 innings in 2021 did come to pass, with the 32-year-old missing a month late in the season. But Wheeler has provided the Phillies with 437.1 innings of elite pitching since signing a five-year, $118 million contract in Dec. 2019. He did not miss as many barrels last season as he did in 2021, but Wheeler establishing himself as a big-game pitcher in October is arguably more important.

RHP Taijuan Walker (2022 – NYM: 3.49 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.5 bWAR)

The Phillies have generally encouraged pitches to throw their best pitch more often, and that will likely be the case with Walker and his splitter. His ERA has jumped by over two points after the All-Star break each of the past two seasons and he has exactly one inning of postseason experience under his belt. He is a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, and that is all the Phillies will ask of him.

LHP Bailey Falter (2022: 3.86 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 1.3 bWAR)

Many will remember Falter for his disastrous start in Game 4 of the NLCS and not his 3.00 ERA in 45 innings (nine starts) in August and September. He is trying to expand his repertoire because his straight fastball and quality curveball aren’t enough to take the ball every fifth day on their own. It is still possible he plays a bullpen role at some point, but the Phillies aren’t exactly flush with rotation depth.

LHP Matt Strahm (2022 – BOS: 4 SV, 3.83 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 0.3 bWAR)

No, this isn’t a mistake — Strahm signed a 2-year, $15 million deal to be a reliever, and that’s what he’ll likely be for most of the season. But with Ranger Suárez out to start the year, Strahm’s five-pitch mix and his 25 career starts make him the fill-in. Expect him to display similar versatility in the bullpen, too, where he could close on occasion and also go multiple innings in the middle frames depending on the situation.

Bullpen

RHP Seranthony Domínguez (2022: 9/11 SV, 3.00 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 1.5 bWAR)

Throw out his first month when he was pitching regularly for the first time in three years and his last month when he was not the same after an August arm injury, and Domínguez had a 1.26 ERA with a K/9 over 11. It is encouraging that his dominance returned in the postseason as well. He is looking for his first full, healthy big-league season after signing an extension last month.

LHP José Alvarado (2022: 2/4 SV, 3.18 ERA, 1.92 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 14.3 K/9, 1.0 bWAR)

Alvarado’s cutter usage by month: 34%, 30.4%, 50%, 52.9%, 44.6%, 41.5%. Alvarado’s ERA by month: 4.05, 11.37 (leading to an AAA demotion), 2.57, 3.60, 1.00, 0.00 (yes, he pitched in Sept./Oct. — 12 times, in fact). If he throws his curveball a little more to keep hitters off the scent, the possibilities are endless.

RHP Craig Kimbrel (2022 – LAD: 22/27 SV, 3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.32 WHIP, 10.8 K/9 0.2 bWAR)

The numbers probably paint a prettier picture of Kimbrel’s 2022 season than they should, especially since the Dodgers left their saves loader off their postseason roster. He’s just one year removed from four months of dominance with the Cubs, although he struggled once going from the North to the South Side, where he was asked to pitch before the ninth more frequently. Over/under is 2.5 home appearances before this happens again.

LHP Gregory Soto (2022 – DET: 30/33 SV, 3.28 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, -0.1 bWAR)

Kimbrel and Soto combined for 52 saves last year, an average of 26, a number they realistically may not combine to top in 2023. That’s a feature, not a bug of the Phillies new bullpen, which has some similarities to the past (focus on velocity and stuff over control) but with new approaches. Maybe it’s not entirely optimal to have two lefties with incredibly similar repertoires, but it’s far from a problem.

RHP Connor Brogdon (2022: 2/4 SV, 3.27 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 1.0 bWAR)

Brogdon rode the roller coaster more than any reliever not named Alvarado in 2022. He was quietly great for four months, sporting a 1.63 ERA on Aug. 20 that ballooned by almost two runs over the next month, only to find success as the postseason progressed. He might play slightly less of a role considering the Soto and Strahm additions mean the Phillies may not need him as much against lefties, who his changeup plays well against.

RHP Andrew Bellatti (2022: 2/3 SV, 3.31 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 0.8 bWAR)

In a roller-coaster season for almost every member of the bullpen, Bellatti was relatively steady. He leaned on his slider, for worse and mostly for better, and established himself as a solid sixth/seventh inning option. He is one of the best Minor League contract finds the Phillies have found in a long time.

RHP Yunior Marte (2022 – SF: 0/1 SV, 5.44 ERA, 4.38 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, -0.3 bWAR)

The 28-year-old’s numbers from his first big league season aren’t exactly encouraging, but there are some promising signs under the hood. Marte ranked in the 84th percentile or better in average exit velocity, xSLG and barrel percentage in his 49 innings of work last year. The Phillies acquired him in Jan. for LHP Erik Miller, their No. 9 prospect in 2021.

LHP Andrew Vasquez (2022 – TOR/SF: 6.23 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, -0.1 bWAR)

Tie for the last bullpen spot goes to 1) the guy already on the 40-man 2) the lefty. Vasquez is both, although he has just 15.1 MLB innings under his belt and only throws two pitches. Expect this spot to change hands frequently, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

Injured List

LHP Ranger Suárez (2022: 3.65 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.5 bWAR)

It is still a bit underrated how quickly Suárez became a quality Major League contributor — he was an afterthought two years ago. It’s even more impressive he turned in a quality 2022 considering his control probably wasn’t as consistent as it could have been. Forearm stiffness hijacked his spring, although the Phillies don’t believe it’s anything serious.

RF Bryce Harper (2022: .286/.364/.514, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 11 SB, 2.5 bWAR)

He’s not expected back until the All-Star break, and who knows when he’ll be back in right field, but the Phillies aren’t starting him on the 60-day IL because believing Harper cannot accomplish something is rarely a winning bet. Maybe the Hoskins injury temps Harper to push his recovery’s pace, but maybe last year’s September struggles lean more toward caution. If you thought the cheer he received from returning from his broken thumb last year was loud, wait until the ovation he gets this summer — or spring.

Oh, how far we’ve come.

1B Rhys Hoskins (2022: .246/.332/.462, 30 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, 2.9 bWAR)

It would feel incomplete to finish this list without Hoskins, even if his baseball card will likely have a zero next to it in all of the above categories for 2023 because of a torn ACL last week. Maybe Hoskins returns on a one-year prove-it deal in 2024, and the team’s longest-tenured position player gets to leave Philadelphia the right way. His slumps will not be missed, but his biggest swings will never be forgotten, and the latter is what should define the man owner John Middleton called the franchise’s soul.

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