In Philadelphia’s best-case scenario, all their young talent clicks this year. J.P. Crawford hits like he did in the second half of the year in Triple-A. Scott Kingery mashes like he did to start 2017 in Double-A. Jorge Alfaro keeps his strikeouts within reason and knocks 20 home runs all while shutting down the basepaths. Rhys Hoskins continues to knock home runs and pushes himself into All-Star consideration in just his second year.
In the outfield, manager Gabe Kapler is able to juggle getting playing time for Hoskins, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, and Odubel Herrera. They all have strong seasons with Altherr remaining healthy.
The top of the lineup will be strong with Carlos Santana and Cesar Hernandez continuing to post on-base percentages well above .350. Maikel Franco finally learns to drive the ball effectively and is able to stave off the Manny Machado pressure.
Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta pitches like he did in the second half last year, forming a solid one-two punch with Aaron Nola. Jerad Eickhoff comes back pitching like he did in 2016 while Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta find some semblance of command.
The bullpen winds up being a key strength for the team as Kapler uses his relievers effectively. Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter are worth the money and shut down the opposition in high-leverage situations. Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, and Adam Morgan all continue their strong seasons in relief.
If all these things go right, Philadelphia should easily outperform their 81-81 projection. A wild-card would certainly be within reach as they are able to beat up on the Marlins and Braves. If the Nationals completely collapse and waste the last year of Bryce Harper, the division may somehow even be within reach.