Fantasy Baseball: How Should You Handle the Part-Time Phillies?
The Philadelphia Phillies have been in the national conversation for much of the 2018 season thus far, and most of the press has not been good. Manager Gabe Kapler has made a bunch of unorthodox managerial decisions that, for the most part, haven't panned out in terms of wins and losses.
In addition to that, Kapler's tactics have thrown fantasy owners into confusion, too.
The problem with owning Phils players on your fantasy teams right now -- aside from the fact that only Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Cesar Hernandez are hitting -- is that there seems to be no discernible pattern to how the rest of the roster is deployed on a given day.
This can make figuring out your lineups a real pain, especially if you play in a league that locks your lineup at the beginning of each week. Is there anything we can do to make it a little less painful?
So far, only four players have started every game for the Phillies, and three of them are in the infield.
Hernandez has been at second base for all five contests, and he's swung it well enough for Kapler to keep him in the lineup, hitting .286 with a .348 on-base percentage thus far. He co-leads the team in plate appearances (23), tied with Carlos Santana, who is one of the other few certainties on this team. Santana, a free-agent acquisition who is a switch-hitter is going to play virtually every day, no matter what.
The rest of the infield appears to be on a rotation of some sort. The addition of Kingery at the start of the season has seemingly thrown everyone else's playing time out of whack. In Kingery's three starts this season, two of them have been at the expense of Maikel Franco at third base and one has been in place of shortstop J.P. Crawford.
Oddly enough, the rotation hasn't been based on platoon splits, either. On Wednesday, Franco was in the lineup against one of the toughest right-handed pitchers in baseball, Noah Syndergaard, so trying to guess the infield rotation has been a futile effort thus far.
The Phillies came into the season with one too many outfielders and, thus far, Kapler has tried to find playing time for everyone. On Opening Day, Kapler benched the team's 2016 All-Star, Odubel Herrera, with Aaron Altherr starting in his place. Herrera, the incumbent in center field, was not pleased.
Between Altherr, Herrera and Nick Williams, it is Altherr who has piled up the most plate appearances (21) through five games, compared to Herrera's 14 and Williams' 11.
The one outfielder who is certain to be in the starting lineup virtually every day is Rhys Hoskins, who has come out of the gate mashing. In 20 plate appearances, Hoskins is hitting .471/.550/.824 with a .576 weighted on base average (wOBA), 1 homer, 2 doubles and 2 stolen bases. And on days when Kapler wants to get Williams, Herrera and Altherr in the outfield at the same time, Hoskins will likely play first base in order to give Santana a day off.
Heading into the regular season, most had assumed rookie Jorge Alfaro would get the majority of playing time behind the dish, but instead, it is second-year man Andrew Knapp who has logged the majority of at-bats from the position. Knapp has appeared in all five games and has accumulated 14 plate appearances, while Alfaro has started just two games and appeared in another as a pinch hitter. All total, he has amassed just eight plate appearances to this point.
Kapler said the catcher situation will be a 50-50 split for a while, so this position is up in the air, as well.
Small Sample Size
As of now, it's impossible to know how this is going to shake out over the rest of the campaign, because the Phils have played just five games and very few players -- outside of Hoskins -- are hot enough to force Kapler to keep them in the lineup.
Suffice it to say that if you're in a fantasy league that allows you to change your lineup on a daily basis and you're an owner of Altherr, Williams, Herrera, Crawford, Kingery, Franco, Knapp or Alfaro, you need to be tuned in when the Phillies release their lineup each day. That could be a frustrating and tedious task throughout a long, grueling season.
If you're forced to lock in your lineup at the start of the week, it might be best to avoid all Phillies bats outside of Hoskins and Santana until guys prove to be immune to Kapler's carousel.