Ticking off the needs for the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason went something like this; re-sign J.T. Realmuto, address the bullpen, upgrade the rotation, sign a shortstop (possibly bring back Didi Gregorius), and upgrade center field.
Most of them make sense.

Photo: Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer

Realmuto is one of the top free agents on the market and is the best catcher in baseball. The Phillies need him back to compete. The bullpen was historically bad last year. The rotation outside of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler is average at best (Spencer Howard has potential but Vince Velasquez is terrible).

The shortstop could be a weakness if Gregorius doesn’t come back. But center field? That one doesn’t make much sense.

As it stands currently, the Phillies are “stuck” with some combination of Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Scott Kingery, and Odubel Herrera.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first.

Herrera should not be considered, even though the front office is discussing it. He hasn’t played since 2019 when he was charged with a domestic violence incident. With the lack of real baseball in 2020, there’s no way to know what kind of game shape Herrera is in. His numbers have gone down every season since his All-Star season of 2016. His defense is mediocre, frequently taking poor routes to the ball.

Fans are already frustrated with Roman Quinn’s defense (more on that later) and Herrera isn’t much of an upgrade in that area. Herrera’s best days are behind him, and it’s time for the Phillies to move on for good.

Next up is Kingery.

While he figures to play in a super-utility role again this season, this year has the feels of a make or break season for “Scotty Jetpack.” Playing him all over the field could be a detriment to his numbers.

If we want to see what kind of player Kingery really is, he needs to play in the infield most of the time, either at second or short. The Phillies don’t need him in center.

That brings us to the real debate – Haseley or Quinn?

I’m a big Quinn fan. I think his speed is game-changing, and his knowledge of how to run the base paths and slide can be a big difference-maker.

Just check out this game-winning run from last year.

But for as valuable as his speed is, his prowess at the plate lags far behind. Last year, he only hit .213/.261/.315. If he could hit closer to .275 or .280, with a higher OBP, his speed would be more important. But if you can’t get on base, your speed is useless. Then there’s the question of his defense. I mention Herrera was frustrating with his routes and defensive acumen. He’s a gold glover compared to Quinn.

Frequently, Quinn overruns balls, dives when he shouldn’t, or throws the ball away. That’s going to cost the team more often than not in a 162-game season. No, at this point, Quinn is most valuable as a bench player. This way, he can come into the game as a pinch-runner to wreak havoc on the base paths.

That leaves us with Haseley.

The eighth overall pick of the 2017 draft has shown promise since making his debut in 2019, hitting .269/.330/.382. But for whatever reason, manager Joe Girardi has this notion that Haseley can’t hit lefties, a notion that doesn’t make much sense.

Haseley has never really been given the opportunity to show whether or not he can hit lefties. Last year, he only had ten at-bats against lefties but managed to get a hit in four of them. Even though that’s an extremely small sample size, it’s still promising. So it’s a small sample size, but the decision has already been made that he can’t hit lefties. Because of that, he only started 23 games last year, 19 of them in center.

Haseley has the potential to be an All-Star player in this league if only given the chance. With regular at-bats, I firmly believe he’ll show that he can hit lefties. Overall, he’s a .292 hitter in the minors and a .309 hitter in college.

Plus, his defense has been stellar, and he could be a perennial Gold Glove candidate.

The bottom line is, the Phillies are manufacturing this center field problem. They have a more than worthy candidate in Haseley, if only they would give him a chance. At only 24, his best years could be ahead of him.

The Phillies need to give him a chance to blossom into the player he can be.
2021 needs to be his year to start the majority of games in center.

Featured Image: Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer
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