J.T. Realmuto had a rather innocuous start to his Phillies career, but he may be the player who ultimately carries them to the playoffs.
Thanks to their rough June, the Phillies went from leading the division to fighting for their playoff lives. With the trade deadline come and gone, it will mainly be up to the existing core of players to earn a playoff spot. Could J.T. Realmuto be the one leading the charge?
While Realmuto was Philadelphia’s lone All-Star, his first half was rather quiet by his standards. He entered the break with a .273/.328/.438 line, ten home runs, and 42 runs batted in over 85 games. While he had a 128 OPS+ last season, he finished the All-Star Break with a 103 OPS+.
However, Realmuto is starting to heat up for the first time as a Phillie. Since the All-Star Break, excluding Friday’s game, he has five home runs in just 17 games, jumping from one home run every 31 at-bats to one every 13. He has an .851 OPS over the last four weeks, a .900 OPS during the previous two weeks, and a 1.450 OPS in the previous week.
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Philadelphia needs Realmuto to excel as some of their other heavy hitters are starting to slow down. Rhys Hoskins went from a .965 OPS in the first half to an .801 OPS in the second half so far. Scott Kingery‘s OPS is experiencing an even more severe drop, going from .889 to .704. Bryce Harper continues to hit pretty well with an .832 OPS, but he has yet to hit at his peak level.
At this point in the season, the team needs someone to put them on his back and carry them to the playoffs, the way Ryan Howard often would. With Realmuto heating up in recent weeks, it may finally be his time to shine.
Of course, none of this matters if the pitching staff continues to falter. Aaron Nola, Jason Vargas, and Drew Smyly will have to cobble together enough productive starts to give the offense a fighting chance. Otherwise, it will be yet another year of the watching the playoffs from home.