Phillies Pheatured Player: Andres Blanco

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May 18, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Andres Blanco (4) hits an RBI double during the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Andres Blanco (4) hits an RBI double during the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Philadelphia Phillies host the Milwaukee Brewers in a four game series, and a utility player could play a pivotal role in helping turn around the Phils’ fortunes.

Why Andres Blanco isn’t starting for the Phillies at this point is beyond me. For the past three seasons, Blanco has done more than enough to show he is capable of being more than a bench utility player.

The now 32-year old Blanco has been one of the club’s best hitters since first taking the field after signing with the Phillies as a free agent in November of 2014.

Blanco came back strong from a solid 2015 campaign this season, putting up an .841 OPS through 38 games. This ranks second on the team overall behind only Odubel Herrera.

For most teams, one of your top hitters would be in the lineup as often as possible. You would think that would be especially so on a team as offensively challenged as this current group of Fightin’ Phils.

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However, Blanco remains stuck behind others on the depth chart. Freddy Galvis has always been a defensive stalwart, and that trend has continued this season. His Fangraphs defensive value of 6.7 is the second-highest of his career, trailing only behind his rookie 2012 season.

In addition, Galvis has shown some power early in the year. He’s raised his slugging percentage to a career high .397 mark, and clubbed five home runs through 52 games.

This pace should blow away his previous career high of seven home runs, and Galvis is likely to reach double-digit homers through this season if he remains healthy.

Overall, Galvis has put out a 0.4 oWAR, which ranks third overall on the team. The combination of solid defense and modest power is enough to keep Galvis in the starting lineup.

On the other hand, Cesar Hernandez has done little to keep himself ahead of Blanco. Hernandez has been more of a liability than an asset at the plate, as he has been worth -2 runs above replacement on offense.

Manager Pete Mackanin has noted Hernandez’s lack of production and has slid him to the eighth spot accordingly.

Meanwhile, in just 73 plate appearances (Hernandez has had 189), Blanco has produced five offensive runs above replacement. If we adjust his oRAR to 189 plate appearances, it comes out to about 13 runs, or 1.3 offensive wins above replacement. Again, only Herrera beats out Blanco.

If I were Mackanin, I would be starting the players that provide the most value for my team. In turn, Blanco would be in the starting lineup as often as possible. Thankfully, the manage may be beginning to recognize this, and has slotted him in the lineup for the second day in a row.

With the benching of Ryan Howard, Mackanin has shown that he can recognize when a player is underperforming and is willing to change things up. This may be the case with Hernandez as well, and Blanco is more than capable of performing well in Hernandez’ place.

Within the coming days, we should see a new look to the Phillies lineup with Tommy Joseph and Blanco each seeing increased action. Blanco in the lineup could very well help the Phillies improve what has been a paltry offense. 

Next: Phils Activate Asche, Make Other Moves

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