The Philadelphia Phillies finished the 2012 season with 81 wins. That was 17 wins behind the Washington Nationals and 13 wins behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The Phillies acquired Delmon Young, John Lannan, Mike Adams, Michael Young and Ben Revere in the off season. Will these acquisitions, plus better health enable the Phillies to make a run at a playoff birth and a division championship in 2013?
Let’s examine the moves the top teams in the division made. The Nationals, who had the best record on baseball last season, added closer Rafael Soriano, starter Dan Haren and center fielder Denard Span. These moves, along with a full season with Stephen Strasburg should keep the Nationals at or near the top, barring collapse or injuries of other players. The Braves added both Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., as well as third baseman Chris Johnson to offset the loss of Martin Prado, Michael Bourn and Chipper Jones. The Braves, like the Nationals, should be near the top of the division.
So where does that leave the Phillies? The hope is that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard can return to near top form. No one can expect any of those three to be the player they were in their prime. But Utley at 20 home runs, 80 runs batted in and Howard with 35 home runs and 120 runs batted in would go a long way to solving some of the offensive issues the Phillies had in 2012.
Roy Halladay has been looking good in off season workouts, which is a plus. Halladay at 90% of his prime, along with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan should be a strong enough rotation to get to an improved bullpen. Mike Adams, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo, should he return to 2011 form, will be an intimidating late inning bullpen.
The addition of Ben Revere in center field will solidify an outfield defense that is probably mediocre at best defensively in left field and right field. Delmon Young, Darin Rough, John Mayberry, and Domonic Brown should produce enough offensively at the corner outfield positions. There is hope that Michael Young’s 2012 season was just a blip on the radar and he can return to old form and bat over .300 and hit around 15 home runs.
Should the core unit of the Phillies stay healthy and perform nearly to usual standards, the Phillies should compete well in the National League East. Where will they finish? It will be the Nationals, Braves and Phillies fighting for the top three spots, and very possibly two or all three of those teams make the post season in 2013.