The 2018 postseason could end as soon as this weekend in Los Angeles, and that means the Phillies and baseball's other 29 teams will have to start making their lists (40-man rosters and free-agent and trade pursuits) as they prepare for the 2019 season. The Phillies have reportedly resolved one order of business by hiring Josh Bonifay as their director of player development. He is replacing Joe Jordan, who resigned from that position in early September. The Phillies are expected to make that news official Thursday.
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— Bob Brookover (email@example.com)
Phillies need to make more hard contact
It is no secret that the Phillies were an offensively challenged team for most of the 2018 season. They finished tied for 21st in runs scored, struck out more than every other team except San Diego and the Chicago White Sox, and finished 24th in extra-base hits.
There's one statistic that really tells the tale of the Phillies' 2018 hitters: hard contact.
In addition to hardly making contact relative to the rest of the league, the Phillies were also the absolute worst at making hard contact, according to fangraphs.com. They were the only team in baseball that had a hard-contact percentage of less than 30 percent. Baseball has a formula for measuring hard contact, but it is not offered for public consumption.
During the regular season, MLB.com published a survey asking players what they thought the most important statistic was in the game. Oakland's Jed Lowrie was the only player to offer hard contact as his answer, and his explanation was a good one.
"Once you hit a ball, there's not a whole lot else you can do," he said.
Five of the top 10 teams in hard contact made the playoffs. Boston was only 19th in hard contact, but the Red Sox were the fifth-best team at putting the ball in play.
Anyway, the Phillies' top two hitters at making hard contact were Asdrubal Cabrera, who ranked 54th at 38.5 percent, and Justin Bour, who ranked 67th at 37.4 percent. Both, of course, joined the team later in the season in trades and are defensively challenged.
Rhys Hoskins ranked 102nd in hard contact at 34.5 percent, and Carlos Santana was 116th at 32.8 percent. In case you were wondering, Bryce Harper was 30th in hard contact at 42.3 percent and Manny Machado was 52nd at 38.7 percent. Here is the fangraphs.com list.
In case you missed it, I provided a list of the Phillies' top minor-league pitching prospects with input from assistant general manager Bryan Minniti and several scouts familiar with the team's minor-league system. Sixto Sanchez is still the leader of the pack, but the Phillies have plenty of other weapons in the arms race.
Calling all Phillies fans. The team celebrated the 10-year reunion of the 2008 World Series title in August, but the actual 10-year anniversary is Monday. Our Matt Breen wants to know your memories from that magical night at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies captured their second world championship.
The great Katie McInerney went to the trouble of combining the entire package reviewing the Phillies' minor-league prospects. You'll find that and a whole lot more by clicking here.
Tomorrow: Red Sox at Dodgers, World Series Game 3, 8:09 p.m.
Saturday: Red Sox at Dodgers, World Series Game 4, 8:09 p.m.
Nov. 6: GM meetings begin in Carlsbad, Calif.
Nov. 8: Rhys Hoskins and other big-leaguers begin all-star tour in Japan.
Dec. 9: Winter meetings begin in Las Vegas.
Stat of the day
It was on this date in 2008 that the Phillies took a 2-1 lead in their World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays by pulling out a 5-4 walkoff win in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park. Carlos Ruiz hit a 2-2 dribbler to third baseman Evan Longoria that was soft enough to score Eric Bruntlett with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Four nights and one long rain delay later, the Phillies had secured their second World Series title and scheduled an unforgettable parade down Broad Street.
From the mailbag
I'm so glad you started this newsletter, great insight and very informative. If the Phillies do sign a #2 or #3, who do you see winning the remaining two starting pitchers spots next season?
Scott B., via email
Answer: Thanks for the kind words about the newsletter, Scott. I think the Phillies absolutely need to add a starting pitcher this offseason, and there are enough decent free-agent starters out there that they should be able to sign one. That would leave the newcomer in a rotation with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.
Unless they are traded, the final two spots would come down to the trio of Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin, with guys such as Ranger Suarez, Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin also possibly making a push. My first choice for a free agent would be Patrick Corbin, with J.A. Happ a close second.