Phillies 2019 season preview: Outfielder Aaron Altherr
Aaron Altherr had a rough 2018 and now faces a crowded outfield situation. Can he carve out a role with the Phillies this year?
It feels like Aaron Altherr has been around for some time and yet barely any time at all. He debuted with the Phillies back in 2014, making his first real impact at the end of the 2015 season. A broken wrist in spring training of 2016 robbed Altherr of any real success that year, but 2017 was when Altherr really shined with a .856 OPS in 107 games.
Altherr came into 2018 in a playing time battle with Nick Williams in right field. Altherr quickly lost the battle as he struggled at the plate, striking out in a career-high 31.9% of his plate appearances. He finished the year with a .628 OPS and -0.4 Fangraphs wins above replacement, the second-worst and worst marks of his career, respectively.
Altherr’s struggles became so bad that the team had to option him back down to Triple-A. His numbers in Lehigh Valley weren’t much better than his in the minors with just a .657 OPS in 34 games. He performed somewhat better once he returned to the majors in September, but it wasn’t enough to inspire any confidence moving forward.
Now Altherr is in a tough spot in the outfield after the additions the team made during the offseason. He hasn’t done enough to warrant any special consideration for a spot in the short or long-term future; he will need to do it on his own. Can Altherr find a way to establish a long-term position on the team this year, or will this be the nail in the coffin for him?