Phillies 2018 report card: Center fielder Roman Quinn

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roman Quinn #24 of the Philadelphia Phillies steals second base against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 29, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roman Quinn #24 of the Philadelphia Phillies steals second base against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 29, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Roman Quinn got his first extended look with the Phillies this season. He turned out to be one of the few bright spots in a disappointing finish.

If you have been following the Phillies at all these last few years, you should know the story of Roman Quinn by now. The 2011 second-round pick has had much of his professional career robbed by injury after injury. Ranked as high as No. 2 in the system by Baseball America back in 2012, the converted shortstop has not been able to reach his potential.

2018 was no exception when it came to a Quinn injury. He underwent surgery in May after tearing a ligament in his right middle finger. He missed two months with the injury before returning to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in late July.

When Quinn was on the field, he put up good numbers in Lehigh Valley. In 25 games he had a .296/.349/.439 line with 13 stolen bases in 14 opportunities. As is always the case when he is healthy, he was a spark plug.

The team was looking for Quinn to be a spark plug when they promoted him July 27. The team was getting little off their bench and Odubel Herrera was struggling at the plate. When he was first called up, Quinn was just that.

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Positives

Right away, Quinn started putting up great numbers in the majors. Between July and August, Quinn hit .362 with a .945 OPS and 154 wRC+. In a 12-game stretch from Aug. 16 to 29, Quinn collected 17 hits, hitting .472.

Quinn was good enough during August that he became a mainstay in the outfield over Herrera. Manager Gabe Kapler found uses in Quinn all over the lineup, sometimes hitting him leadoff but often hitting him ninth to provide another spark at the bottom of the lineup. 68 of Quinn’s 143 plate appearances came as the No. 9 hitter. He put up strong numbers in this position with a .323/.382/.484 line.

Altogether, Quinn stole 10 bases in 14 opportunities. He easily could have had more, but the Phillies were one of the least aggressive base-stealers in the league this season. When Quinn did steal, he showed he still has his trademark speed despite the injuries. His 30.2 feet per second sprint speed was tied for second-highest in the league with Miami’s Magneuris Sierra.

Negatives

For as good as Quinn’s July and August was, he was just as bad in September. He hit just .161 with a .526 OPS, striking out in a third of his plate appearances. His weighted on-base average dropped from .409 in August to .243 in September. Quinn went from a line drive rate of 21.3% in August to 13.9% in September while his fly ball rate increased by 14%.

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The reason for Quinn’s struggles in September could be the fact that he played through the month with a broken pinkie toe. It wasn’t severe enough to put him on the disabled list yet again, but there was pain Quinn had to deal with for the last few weeks of the season.

This poor September led to Quinn finishing the year with a .267/.324/.420 line, 94 OPS+, 101 wRC+, 7.0% walk rate and 24.5% strikeout rate.

By the end of the season, he wound up with a negative win probability added. These cumulative offensive numbers, combined with the small sample size, are from enough justification to have Quinn full-on replace Herrera.

Quinn’s defensive numbers, while in a short time frame, were not ideal either. He had a .975 fielding percentage in the outfield, making two errors. He had -1 defensive runs saved in center field. In 285.1 outfield innings, Quinn had a -1.7 ultimate zone rating. The entire team was bad defensively, but Quinn wasn’t exactly great.

B-. . Outfielder. Philadelphia Phillies. ROMAN QUINN

Quinn showed some good things, especially early on during his time in the majors this season. However, his poor finish should temper expectations for him moving forward.

Will he be back?

Quinn still has two more seasons before he even becomes arbitration-eligible, so the Phillies have every reason to keep him around. He did enough this year to warrant a roster spot heading into next year, but the role he will be in depends on a lot of things. There are lots of things to be figured out in the outfield, like what to do with Herrera and whether or not to move Rhys Hoskins back to first base. Then there’s the myriad of offseason moves the team could make either in free agency or on the trade market.

At worst, Quinn will be a bat off the bench and a pinch-running threat Kapler can have in his back pocket. Of course, there is a significant possibility Quinn winds up as one of the three starters in the outfield. In that scenario, the team is hoping he hits more like he did in August and less like he did in September.

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Of course, all this depends on whether or not Quinn can stay healthy. He dealt with injuries both in the minors and majors this year. With such a severe injury history, that will always be the concern with Quinn.

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