Looking Back On 2023 Looking Ahead To 2024: The Phillies

The 2024 MLB Regular Season is less than a week away. Here in Philadelphia, the 2024 season comes with Championship expectations if anybody tells you otherwise, they are lying. After near misses the last two seasons which saw the Phillies lose in six to the Astros in the World Series, and then loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven in the NLCS. 2024 is certainly the World Championship or bust.    

Or is it? The Phillies roster is loaded with high-end talent that should last well beyond 2024. They boast the 4th highest payroll in the majors and have most of their roster together through 2027. But in these parts’ patience is waning thin the near misses of the last two years are making an already Championship starved fan base ravenous about 2024.

20th At The Bank, 141st Overall

2024 will be the 141st edition of the Philadelphia Phillies, and with only two World Championships to show for it the near misses of the last two seasons are like blood in the water for the shark Phillies fans. But it is not sunny in Philadelphia. There are some glaring issues with this team that if not corrected will make climbing the World Series Mountain in 2024 that much harder.

The Offense

The Phillies are built to hit the ball out of the park team if there was ever one. In 2023 the team hit 220 home runs and scored 794 runs for a 4.9 run-a-game average. They also banged out 1416 hits for an 8.7-a-game average. But the flip side of that aggressive all-or-nothing hitting approach is this.

They struck out an astonishing 1471 for a 9.1-a-game average, they left 1098 runners on base for a 6.8-a-game average, and were 358 for 1346 with runners in scoring position for a .266 batting average.

They also walked 537 times for a 3.3-a-game average. These numbers contradict each other all over the place. Kyle Schwarber is what he is near the top of the MLB in Home runs and strikeouts. This is not an excuse to blindly believe that he can be counted on in the most high-pressure situations. He needs to be better; he also needs to bat in the lineup where he can do maximum damage that is not at the leadoff spot.

Consistency

Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, and Trea Turner simply need to be more consistent. Gimmicks shouldn’t have to be used to motivate million-dollar ball players to do their jobs. Excuses of last spring’s World Baseball Classic should never be used to explain a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER’S slow start to a regular season, and pandering is not a way into the hearts of the Phillies fans.

Offensively the Phillies on paper are lethal the problem is we don’t play this game on paper. The Offense needs to understand situational baseball they need to drive the ball to all fields, be more selective in pitches with runners in scoring position, take what the defense gives you instead of padding your statistics, and understand that in October every pitch matters. This past offseason manager Rob Thompson promised that these were things the team would be working on in camp we shall all see soon the fruits of their labor.

Defense

Massive improvements at third base by Alex Bohm was my most positive takeaway from 2023. Add to that Bryce Harper’s ability to learn to play MLB level First Base in a very short period have the Phillies feeling fine at the corners.

Bryson Stott will be a gold-glove second baseman very soon. The most disturbing part about the infield was the play of Trea Turner. Turner turned in a below-average performance at shortstop. In 2023 Turner committed 23 errors in 155 games played, the most in his career, and registered a .960 fielding percentage, the second lowest of his career.  It’s no mistake that the Phillies desperately need Turner to rebound both at the plate and in the field in 2024.

The outfield will look very different in 2024. Castellanos had a stellar year at his new right field position, a position he inherited from Bryce Harper mid-way through the 2022 season. Nicky Bats continues to mystify me with his defensive ability in right field. Center field and left field are questions heading into the season. Schwarber mercifully has been moved to DH which will be an upgrade regardless of who they put there. Johan Rojas, Brandon Marsh, and Christian Pache could all see significant time in center/ left field this season.  

Catch Me If You Can

JT Realmuto’s offensive skills may be diminishing but his defense is still right at the top of the MLB. The catcher position is often overlooked but it is very important. Not only are they asked to manage a call with the right pitches, but they are the eyes of the defense. No one has a better view of the field than the catcher and Realmuto is one of the game’s best.

The Phillies committed 96 errors last season for a 0.59-a-game average which was 26 more errors than they committed in 2022 I guess Turner’s 23 errors count for many of them. Defensively the Phillies do not set the world on fire, but they are ok, they are. I feel center field is a position that might dog them this year and Justin Crawford is still about two years away.  

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Pitching

The 2023 pitching staff complied 1454 strikeouts for a 9.0-a-game average, walked 470 for 2.9 a game average, gave up 1395 hits for an 8.6-a-game average, surrendered 185 home runs for a 1.1-a-game average, and let in 716 runs for a 6.4 a game average. These numbers are tolerable. The Phillies pitchers throw strikes, they didn’t walk many, and they keep their team in games in 2023.  

Stability is the main issue here. The starting rotation was unstable for the better part of the first half of 2023. Injuries were the main factor, and if you ask me a bad offseason plan involving Andrew Painter was also a contributor.

Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are a top 5 1-2 combo in the MLB, and both are fresh off signing brand new contracts with the Phillies. Ranger Suarez continues to impress with his durability, and reliability as a starter, Taiwan Walker is a wild card. Walker, who at one point last season was the first 12-game winner in all of baseball, he fell off a cliff in September posting an above-8 ERA, and completely disappeared in October. The Phillies need him simply put they need him.

Christoper Sanchez continues to be plagued by inconsistency, and injury but was the knight in shining armor for the Phillies last season. He stabilized the back end of the rotation during the stretch run. The only thing I ask is this: please do your homework before trading for another rental pitcher at the deadline as it hasn’t worked over the last two years. Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen provided 0 for the Phillies in their respective post-seasons.   

Bullpen   

The bullpen is well “by committee” every relief pitcher does not have an actual role. Manager Rob Thompson analytics the you know what out of the pen. Gone is fan whipping boy Craig Kimbrel in his place young fireballer Orion Kerkering who moved up every level of the Phillies minor league system in one year. He is going to be asked to be the man in high-pressure situations. Greg Soto, Jose Alvarado, SerAnthony Dominquez, and Jeff Hoffman will be the last line of pitching defense for the Phillies this year. I hate the committee.

The Bench

The image of Jake Cave ending the Phillies season in 2023 is burned into my mind. I don’t blame Jake, I blame Dombrowski for providing the Phillies with absolutely nothing offensively off the bench in 2023. Witt Merrifield should provide that spark off the bench, especially in October. Stubbs is a serviceable catcher he just needs to keep his mouth shut. Sosa provides more of a defensive plus for the Phillies. And that leaves the last spot to one of those outfielders.

2024 Projection

The Phillies won 90 games in 2023, despite all their inconsistencies. That’s not the problem, the problem is they took a step back in the postseason from 2022. They are returning to the same team, along with the same manager. Championship or bust for a team that regressed in their hunt in 2023 is a tall order, yes. Is it impossible no. Let the games begin. Baseball is back in all its 162-game glory.

2024 Phillies Record 92-70, 2nd place NL East, 4th seed in the NL, lose in six games in the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

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