Power and Speed Define Phillies Outfield

The Phillies appear pretty set in the outfield, with no exciting position battles looking to take place, even on their bench. That makes it much easier for forecasters like me to project playing time! The outfield enjoys an interesting mix of power, speed, upside and downside potential.

Domonic Brown finally enjoyed his coming out party last year, posting a .351 wOBA and swatting 27 homers, backed by an impressive 19.3% HR/FB ratio. He even recorded a bunch of steals, solidifying himself as an all-around contributor. The primary driving force propelling the breakout was of course the power. Unfortunately, his batted ball distance sat only a bit above the league average, and his overall xHR/FB rate was just 13.8%. That suggests that he could be in for a significant falloff in power, or at least home run power. Of course, even if that does happen, he should still be good for 20+ homers given the promise of more plate appearances along with nearly double digit steals.

Brown’s HR/FB rate was 8% higher at home than away. Citizens Bank Park tied for 8th best left-handed HR park factor last year, so better home performance should have been expected. Perhaps the location of his fly balls are tailor made to take advantage of the park’s dimensions or atmospheric effects. Or perhaps not. Maybe it was just some fluky good luck. Some good news is he posted a .315 wOBA against lefties, which isn’t great, but far from terrible. It means he shouldn’t worry about ever getting benched when a southpaw is on the mound.

Roaming center field is the speedster Ben Revere, who suffered a broken ankle that cut his season short. While he should help in batting average, his primary asset is his stolen base ability. He’s set to hit leadoff again, but a more patient approach at the plate would really benefit him and the Phillies. With the most optimistic projection calling for just a .338 OBP, it’s not quite the level you expect from your top of the order hitter. And considering that he needs to get on first to steal a base to begin with, fantasy owners should be clamoring for more walks as well.

After disappearing and then actually contributing positive value with the bat for the first time since 2010, the Phillies decided to hand Marlon Byrd a two-year contract to play right field. Citizens Bank is a much better park for right-handed home runs than PNC Park was, so that should offset a bit of the regression we were bound to see. It’s not often you see a 35-year-old post a HR/FB rate nearly double his career mark and setting a new high. He’ll also likely see some decline in his BABIP, though he’s had a history of inflated marks. If his BABIP does drop and HR/FB rate tumbles, that new swing and miss approach is going to have nowhere to hide.

Backing up the corner spots, and perhaps first base again, will be the powerful Darin Ruf, who is much better suited on an American League team filling the DH slot. With the exception of his 2013 stint at Triple-A, he had made surprisingly solid contact throughout the minors. But he has yet to figure out how to do so at the Major League level. He has shown mammoth power in the minors and knows how to take a walk, so he’s one of the more interesting reserve outfielders in baseball from a fantasy perspective.

John Mayberry manned all three outfield spots last year and may do so again this time around. Once an intriguing power/speed threat, his power has waned these last two seasons, as he has posted xHR/FB rates right around the league average. He also hits way too many popups which hurts his ability to post a respectable BABIP and not be a drag on your batting average. The biggest issue is that he’s posted sub-.300 wOBA marks the past two seasons against right-handers, which makes him a platoon bat at best, and on the short side. But even his ability versus southpaws has declined, as his wOBA has dropped for two straight seasons and was actually below the league average last year. I’d rather spend my auction dollars on Ruf if I were to draft a Phils reserve outfielder.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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The Phillies signed Bobby Abreu to be a left-handed bat off the bench – he’s probably pencilled in over Ruf. Ruf’s best chance is to beat out Fransden for a reserve infield spot. Mayberry’s basically on huge bench because he can play CF.