Phillies: Breaking down the spring training roster battles

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 03: Tommy Joseph #19 (L) and Cameron Rupp #29 (R) of the Philadelphia Phillies douse Ben Lively #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies after the game on his performance at Citizens Bank Park on June 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 03: Tommy Joseph #19 (L) and Cameron Rupp #29 (R) of the Philadelphia Phillies douse Ben Lively #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies after the game on his performance at Citizens Bank Park on June 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 18: Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talks to Cameron Rupp #29 of the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the game at Citizens Bank Park on September 18, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Backup catcher

Easily the most-talked about roster battle this spring will be who backs up Jorge Alfaro at catcher. Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp were the Opening Day catchers last year, but now they are pitted against each other to determine who will be behind Alfaro. Both can be optioned back to Triple-A.

Defensively, choosing between Knapp and Rupp is a wash. Knapp was worth -8.8 runs below average and had -8 defensive runs saved last year. Rupp was worth -10.3 runs below average and had -10 defensive runs saved. Rupp has the edge when it comes to catching runners stealing; he had a 29 percent caught stealing rate compared to Knapp’s 20 percent.

This battle will likely be determined by whether the coaching staff appreciate’s Rupp’s power or Knapp’s on-base ability more. Rupp hit 14 home runs in 88 games last year, but he hit just .217 with a 34.4 percent strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Knapp hit just three home runs in 56 games, but he had a 15.2 percent walk rate and posted a .368 on-base percentage. The signing of Carlos Santana and the decision to replace Freddy Galvis with J.P. Crawford both show a preference to players with high OBPs, indicating the club might go with Knapp over Rupp.

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