The Phillies might run out of room for their budding outfielder
Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has always been a quiet question mark on the team since they acquired him in 2015. Part of the six-player package from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, Williams was tagged as a five-tool outfielder with some personality issues.
The personality issues haven’t shown up at all since Williams arrived, and he’s been a model player and citizen since arriving.
After starting this year behind Aaron Altherr, Williams finally got a hold of the everyday right field job. In 135 games he’s hitting .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI, but his overall numbers are a bit muddied by inconsistent playing time.
Altherr lost the starting right field job around May 16, about 40 games into the year. Williams hit .185 in March/April while primarily coming off the bench, but with the slightly increased playing time in May he hit .293.
After a down month of June hitting .218 as the starting right fielder, Williams hit .311 with five home runs in 25 games during the month of July. His average came back down to earth in August when he hit .272, and in September his playing time took a big hit with the return of Altherr and addition of Jose Bautista.
With only 32 extra-base hits this year, 69% of Nick Williams’ hits have been singles. The organization hoped he’d bring more power, especially more doubles than just 12.
Philadelphia’s front office will be at a standstill this offseason until Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sign. Harper is the big piece here because unless the team moves Carlos Santana or Odubel Herrera, he’s taking over in right field and Williams will be without a position.
I think most fans would rather have Harper’s 40 home run bat than the evolving Williams.
If Harper doesn’t sign with Philadelphia, the organization will likely look for upgrades over Williams, but there aren’t any free agent outfielders with numbers substantially better outside of Harper.
The Phillies aren’t giving Andrew McCutchen, Adam Jones, A.J. Pollock, or Michael Brantley the right field job over Williams. Williams has as many or more home runs than three of those guys and his average is better than two of them.
Barring a Harper trade and a subsequent move to put Rhys Hoskins back at first base, I think Williams opens the 2019 season as the starting right fielder. A lot will change this offseason in what could be one of the biggest winters in franchise history, but barring a major move Williams will return.