Baseball players sat idle for more than three months, and now they must sprint to the finish with an unprecedented 60-game schedule played in front of cardboard fans. This should be fun.
Every game is three-times more important than in a regular year, and we all know how tight the standings get in September — especially the wild-card.
The Phillies’ top hitters generally have started quickly in their careers. Three of their biggest boppers — Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and Andrew McCutchen — each had at least 10 homers in the first 60 games last season, as the Phils went 33-27. If they can get to 35 wins, they should be in the hunt for a postseason bid.
On the mound, staff ace Aaron Nola was dominant in 2018, but more hittable early last year. Jake Arrieta has been decent, but not Zack Wheeler.
Just like on Wall Street, past performances do not guarantee future results, but here’s a look at the top Phillies players and how they’ve started in their careers.
Harper’s best start was in 2015, when he had 20 homers and an OPS of 1.171 in Washington’s first 60 games. He went on to become the youngest player to win an MVP unanimously (he was 22). Harper has hit .280 for his career in his team’s first 60 games. In the last five years, he’s averaged 15.4 homers to start the season. The Phillies would take that in a heartbeat, and so would the “overs” bettors. DraftKings has a line of 14.5 for the number of homers the Phillies slugger will hit this season.
Had a 5.68 ERA through his first five games last season, then was at 2.73 in his next five. If he gets 12 starts, the Phillies could use seven wins. That was the number he had over the first 60 games in 2018 (7-2, 2.35 ERA), when he made the All-Star team.
The 10-year vet had been extremely durable before last season (his first with the Phillies, naturally), when he tore his ACL in Game No. 60. In his first six full seasons, McCutchen, 33, hit .296 in his team’s opening 60 games. In his last four, his batting average is .246. McCutchen’s 10 home runs in 2019, however, were the most he’s opened with in seven years. And it wasn’t just a Citizens Bank Park thing, either. He hit five at home, five on the road.
We’re dismissing Arrieta’s first four seasons with Baltimore, since he became a more-reliable pitcher when he joined the Cubs midway through 2013. After dominating for much of 2015-16, Arrieta is 16-12 in his team’s first 60 games, with a 3.72 ERA over the last three seasons. Not terrible, but not worth the $70 million he was paid. Arrieta is 34 and in a contract year. He can salvage his Phillies legacy with a strong two+ months here.
Segura has hit .307 in his team’s first 60 games since 2013, including three seasons in which he was better than .330. Hit .287 with a .780 OPS in the Phils’ first 60 games last year, 10 of which he missed.
A career .280 hitter out of the gate, which is more-than-acceptable when you play defense at catcher as well as he does. He turned 29 in March.
Hoskins’ best stretch was when he was called up in August 2017 and went on a home-run tear (18 in his first 34 games) like no Phillie ever. That’s a 31+ homer pace for 60 games. The Phils could win 40 games if he does that again.
Broke into the majors in 2012, but did not become an everyday player until he was traded to the Yankees in 2015. Gregorius had Tommy John surgery before last season, so he didn’t make his 2019 debut until the Yankees’ 62nd game. In 2018, the last time he played most of his team’s first 60 games, Gregorius had 11 homers, 11 doubles, and 24 walks in 56 games.
Came up midway through 2013 and missed 2015-16 with Tommy John surgery. Only time he’s had a winning record through 60 games was last season, when he was 5-3. Nothing to see here.