3. Bryce Harper, designated hitter
Reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper should bat in the same order of the Phillies lineup as the number on the back of his uniform — three. Before his June injury, Harper logged 61 games and 265 plate appearances hitting third in the batting order this season. At the spot, he slashed an impressive .310/.381/.582 with 19 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs and 44 RBI.
Harper in the three-hole guarantees he gets a plate appearance in the first inning. You always want a power threat who could potentially give the team an early lead and alleviate pressure off of the starting pitcher.
The Las Vegas native was originally slated to play through the weekend at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but his MVP-caliber play in two games with the IronPigs ultimately expedited the timeline. Through 10 plate appearances, Harper slashed .625/.700/1.625 with a single, pair of doubles and home runs, six RBI, two walks, and just one strikeout.
Entering Thursday, the Phillies have gone an impressive 31-20 since Harper broke his thumb against the San Diego Padres and was placed on the injured list. His presence in the lineup will surely be an added boost for interim manager Rob Thomson’s squad.
4. J.T. Realmuto, catcher
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto has stepped up in a big way in Harper’s absence. Since June 26, the three-time All-Star is slashing .329/.382/.617 with 10 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 32 RBI, 11 walks and just 33 strikeouts spanning 41 games and 165 plate appearances.
Realmuto’s offense was scary bad early in the season. As of May 22, he was hitting as low as .224 with a .293 on-base percentage. Now, the “Best Catcher in Baseball” has improved those figures to .273 and .341, respectively — making him one of the best hitters in baseball over the past couple of months.
Realmuto has logged 12 hits in his past six games alone. It would be hard to bat him anywhere but the cleanup spot, given the way his bat has come alive as of late.