5 Phillies players under the most pressure entering the 2024 season

Which Phillies players need to step up their game right from the get-go in 2024?

Philadelphia Phillies starter Aaron Nola will be under pressure to live up to his new contract
Philadelphia Phillies starter Aaron Nola will be under pressure to live up to his new contract / Elsa/GettyImages
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J.T. Realmuto

If you look at J.T. Realmuto's stats from 2023, you could say he didn’t have an exceptional season, but at least a solid one nonetheless. Overall, Realmuto batted .252 with a .762 OPS, along with 70 runs scored, 28 doubles, five triples, 20 home runs, 63 RBI and 16 stolen bases to boot in 135 games.

With numbers like that, why would he be under pressure to perform in 2024? Well, an apparent decline in his defensive game last season was hidden behind his productive offensive numbers. For someone who has been a two-time Gold Glove winner, with his last one coming in 2022, there was one glaring statistic that could prove to be worrisome for Realmuto and the Phillies in the long run.

In 2023, Realmuto allowed opposing teams to steal at a 78 percent success rate, which was the highest rate ever for his career if you don’t include the 2014 season when he saw just nine games of action with the Miami Marlins. Opposing baserunners took full advantage and stole 81 bases in just 104 attempts, marking the most stolen bases he had given up ever. His previous high was just 53 during the 2017 season, so it was a significant and troubling increase.

On top of that, he registered a -4 DRS, which was also his worst since the 2016 season. So basically, playing him at the catcher position last year was inadvertently giving the opposing team an advantage at scoring runs each and every game.

At age 33 entering the 2024 season, and not getting any younger, the pressure will be on Realmuto to show that he still has some game left as a defensive catcher. In particular, he needs to convince the Phillies that he can still throw runners out successfully for the upcoming year and beyond. Otherwise, if his decline witnessed last season is indeed a reality, the Phillies could have a bigger problem on their hands.

Replacing Realmuto with the backup Garrett Stubbs would severely suppress the Phillies’ offensive attack. If they move Realmuto to DH, it pushes Kyle Schwarber back into the field, which would be even more disastrous. As a result, he needs to quickly revert to his prior form before it turns into a tumbling chain-reaction situation for the ballclub.