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Philadelphia Phillies 2013: Infield Preview

Phillies News

Jimmy Rollins will be 34 this year

The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t getting any younger around the infield in 2013, with starters of 33, 34, 34, and 36.

Baseball Insiders projects the Phillies infield to contribute 50 home runs and 206 RBI minus whatever contribution Michael Young brings.

The home run number shouldn’t be a problem as Young will likely add 12-18.

The infield will have to contribute some more RBIs if the Phils are to be successful.

Will Ryan Howard ever hit 58 home runs again? Will Chase Utley ever be a .330 hitter again? Not likely for either.

Staying healthy will be a key for this veteran group.

Let take a look at the options the Phillies presently have on the roster.

First Base

Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf:

It’s no secret that Ryan Howard wasn’t quite the same guy when he came back mid-season in 2012.

His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage were 52, 69, 128 points below his career averages.

The most telling statistic is probably Ryan’s OPS+ of only 91.

The hope in Philly is that Ryan will be fully healed and provide some of the power that Philly fans have come to expect in recent years.

Ruf is listed as Howard’s backup on the official Phillies depth chart, but he’s also the starter in left field and will likely not see a ton of time at first base.

Second Base

Chase Utley, Freddy Galvis, and Kevin Frandsen:

Chase will be the every day starter at second base with Galvis and Frandsen filling in on his days off.

In only 83 games last year, Utley hit near his career averages in almost every category.

He will be 34 next season and there is some fear that his slight decline in on-base percentage will continue.

The Phillies will need him to at a 2009-type level, when he hit 31 home runs and stole 23 bases.

If Utley struggles and Charlie Manuel decides to give Galvis more playing time, it won’t be a shock.

Before being suspended for PED use last season, Galvis played well.

Assuming his numbers weren’t all a result of his PED use, the 23-year-old should show some improvement in his overall game.

Third Base

Michael Young:

Young is listed at the top of the depth chart with Galvis and Frandsen behind him.

Frandsen will likely fill in on Young’s days off and he performed well there last year in place of the injured Placido Polanco.

Young hasn’t played a full season at third base since 2010.

He is confident that he’ll be able to play the hot corner because he’ll be dedicating all of his repetitions towards that spot.

Of all the offseason acquisitions, this is the one that makes me the most nervous.

Shortstop

Jimmy Rollins:

Jimmy will be 34 this year and I’ll be stunned if he’s the leadoff hitter on opening day.

Rollins has never hit for better than .296 in a full season and his batting average and on-base percentages have been in a steady decline since his 2007 MVP season.

If nothing else, Rollins provides good defense in an important spot next to a questionable defensive player (Young), having won his fourth gold glove last season.

Catcher

Carlos Ruiz, Erik Kratz:

Ruiz will be serving a 25-game suspension at the beginning of the season for Adderall use.

Because of that, Kratz will get the majority of the starts with one of the Phillies minor league options has his backup.

While healthy last season, Ruiz put up MVP-like numbers and hopefully won’t miss a beat when he comes back from his suspension.

Until then, we’ll have to deal with the average play of Kratz at the back-end of the lineup.

As always, if you have questions you’d like to see answered here or want to contact me, you can shoot me an email on the Contributors page.


Andrew grew up in Central Pennsylvania and has a deep love for all Philadelphia sports. He is currently a student at the University of Maryland University College and living in Hawaii as a member of the Army. He is the former editor of Phillies 101 and his own sports related web sites.