The Phillies offense has been limited over the first six weeks, but one of their outfielders may be emerging as a true weapon.
Through the first six weeks of the season the Phillies have lacked any consistent offensive punch. The team ranks 29th in runs scored, with only the lowly Braves scoring less frequently.
In the first 45 games of 2016, manager Pete Mackanin has trotted out 38 different lineups as he searches for the right combination to get the offense going.
The skipper has yet to find a real answer, as the Phillies are scoring a mere 3.24 runs per game. This has them on a pace to score 100 fewer runs than even the anemic 2015 Phillies offense produced as they finished with the worst record in baseball.
Calls from the fan base to promote the club’s top outfield prospect, AAA Lehigh Valley right fielder Nick Williams has grown louder among the Phaithful who can’t wait to see the kids.
Williams’ .696 OPS through 37 games hasn’t been enough to inspire Matt Klentak to make that call as yet. The 22-year old Williams needs to show more plate discipline and overall offensive production before getting his shot, possibly later this summer.
Goeddel, this year’s first pick in the Rule 5 draft, got off to a slow start in his first 16 games, 10 of which were starts. Through May 6th, the 23-year old had just 35 plate appearances and wasn’t wowing anyone with a .147/.147/.147 slash line.
In fact, he looked completely over matched, having struck out 11 times with no walks or extra base hits at that point.
On May 8th, Mackanin began inserting Goeddel into his lineup on an every day basis. Since that time, the youngster has turned his game up a notch, and then some.
In the Phillies last 13 games Goeddel has slashed .378/.417/.578 with two doubles, two triples and his first big league home run in 48 PA’s.
Goeddel has hit safely in 11 of the 13 games, including four multi-hit games. Until he cools off, and perhaps beyond, it appears Mackanin has found his every day left-fielder.
While 13 games is an admitted small sample size, and I lend very little credence to small sample sizes, Goeddel looks more comfortable at the plate and seems to have found his stroke.
Maintaining the .994 OPS he has posted in his recent run is a long shot to say the least. But Mackanin is all about riding the hot hitter, especially in light of the fact that he has so few reliable bats to turn to when he looks down the Phillies bench.
Much like last year’s Rule 5 pick, Odubel Herrera, Goeddel has never played above AA before making his Major League debut this season. His four-year minor league career with the Rays showed steady year-over-year improvement and a steady ascent through Tampa’s farm system.
While no one expects Goeddel’s recent hot streak to continue at this level, it’s clear he’s seeing the ball better and taking advantage of the increased opportunity Mackanin has given him.
With just three starters possessing an OPS over .700, Goeddel’s recent hitting is somewhat of a revelation, as much of the team appears bereft of offensive talent.
Before the 2016 season began it was widely assumed that onlyHerrera and 3rd baseman Maikel Franco would be around as starting position players when the Phils are ready to contend again.
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The rest of the position players on the roster were seen as placeholders for the multitude of prospects the Phils have on the come. In the next year or two Goeddel will have to battle with Williams, Roman Quinn, Dylan Cozens, and maybe more for a starting job.
Only two of those players will emerge as starters for the Phillies in the 2017-18 seasons. That assumes Klentak won’t trade for an established outfielder, or sign one as a free agent, though pickings are awfully slim in the upcoming free agent class.
The 2018 free agent class, however, is loaded with superstar outfielders such as Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, and A.J. Pollock. The Phillies will be in a perfect financial position to go after any of them, should the club so choose.
The Phils corner outfield production is the lowest of all the Major League teams thus far in 2016. Perhaps the Phils have found one of the answers on their own 25-man roster with the recent emergence of Goeddel.
More time is needed to assess how he’ll handle the ups and downs of a long season with the rigors of a 162-game schedule, but that recent production brings hope to a team scuffling to score on a nightly basis.
In the 32 games prior to Goeddel starting every night, the Phillies averaged 3.06 runs per game. In their last 13 games with Goeddel in the lineup every day, they’ve averaged 3.69 runs per game.
Goeddel is a solid but unspectacular defensive outfielder. If he continues to grow as a hitter, he may indeed have a long and productive career with the Phillies.
Time will tell, and there will be no resting on his laurels even if he does produce. After all, as stated already, the Phils have some good prospects who are nearly ready, and the horizon is filled with superstar outfield bats that will be available in two years.
A strong showing by Goeddel the rest of the season will go a long way towards giving him the upper hand when challenged by the younger prospects who are sure to get their shot later this year or next spring training.
Until then, Goeddel looks to be the Phillies answer to one of the corner outfield spots that have plagued their 2016 season.