It’s officially 2021, and as hard as it is to believe, Spring Training is right around the corner.
That’s right, pitchers and catchers are going to report mid-February, and there’s currently no sign of delaying the season.
And if things continue down their current path, things could be a lot different for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2021.
Here are five predictions for the team this upcoming season.
1) The Phillies Re-Sign J.T. Realmuto
It’s the most obvious move to make. He says he enjoyed his time in Philly and would like to come back. The team would like him to come back. Bryce Harper would like him to come back. If new president Dave Dombrowski wants to start his tenure with the Phillies off on the right foot, he absolutely needs to re-sign Realmuto.
If they don’t, catcher stands to be one of the worst positions in the league. It’s simply not an option for the Phillies to start the season with the likes of Andrew Knapp and Rafael Marchan as the starter and backup. It just can’t happen. Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball, and when he spent two years in your organization, you re-sign him. No questions asked. He’s an integral part of what this team is trying to do. There’s certainly still competition for his services, but the longer he goes unsigned, the more confident I get that the Phillies are successful in re-signing him.
2) Bryce Harper Wins the NL MVP
Harper gets a lot of heat from the national media for not playing like his 2015 MVP season since signing the contract. What they fail to see is that Harper has had two outstanding years with the Phillies so far. He has the capability of putting the team on his back and carrying them for a month or more. He’s clutch, has been a leader, played great defensively, and is a big influence on the younger players like Alec Bohm.
With Realmuto, Bohm, and an improved Rhys Hoskins around him, I think this is the year Harper silences all his national critics and wins the MVP.
3) Rhys Hoskins Finally Figures it Out
There was much talk last Spring Training of Hoskins’ new batting stance. In fact, we got to see it for a little bit. But a delayed start to the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced Hoskins to alter his plans and use a hybrid stance. It didn’t work. He finished the season hitting a mediocre .245/.384/.503, which is saying something since there were stretches last year when he couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag.
While he’s never going to be the type of guy to hit .300, he can certainly hit .280. The upcoming season is a make or break one for Hoskins. With Bohm looking like a star and the fact he can play first, there is finally pressure on Hoskins to perform. With another poor performing season, Hoskins could be on the way out, Bohm could move to first, and the Phillies could pursue another big free agent after this season (hello Kris Bryant). But I don’t see that happening. Hoskins seemed to have found his stroke at the end of last year, and despite having elbow surgery this offseason, 2021 will be the year he puts it together and becomes the player we thought he would be.
4) The Phillies Sign Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Phillies have a hole to fill in center field. Roman Quinn, despite the speed he brings, has proven he’s not an everyday player. And for some reason, the Phillies don’t have faith in Adam Haseley since they never seem to give him a chance against lefties. Bradley has a history with Dombrowski from their days together in Boston, so it’s only logical that Dombrowski will sign someone he’s familiar with.
However, I’d rather see them save the money and let Haseley show what he can do. Bradley is a career .239 hitter and is 30 years old. Haseley is 24, and at this point in their careers, has a higher ceiling. But until he’s given a chance to be an everyday player, he’s going to be relegated to a bench/platoon role. Bradley Jr. is the answer to a problem the Phillies are manufacturing.
5) The Phillies Make the Playoffs
The Phillies haven’t made the playoffs since 2011. 2021, they’ll finally make it back there. Despite finishing with a 28-32 record last season, the Phillies were a good team. They just have one of the worst bullpens in the history of the game. In fact, they led at one point or another in the majority of their games last year.
The bullpen can’t nearly be as bad as they were last season. That’s impossible. I’m certainly being optimistic here, but with Harper winning the MVP, Realmuto back behind the plate, and an improved Hoskins, the Phillies’ chances this season are looking good.
It’s still too tough to tell if they’ll win the division or a wild card spot, but either way, there will be Phillies baseball in October this year.
Featured Image: Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer