Joe Girardi dropped a minor bombshell on Friday, revealing that Andrew McCutchen will not be ready for opening day. As Dean Martin once said, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?”.
Everyone was expecting the 2013 NL MVP to be back in time for opening day. McCutchen won’t be reading until further into April.
That means 2 things:
1) The Phillies won’t have McCutchen as the leadoff man and, more importantly, 2) The Phillies won’t have McCutchen as the left fielder.
The question of “Who is the opening day left fielder?” might be harder than you think. There are several answers to that question and, get this, none of them are bad.
Yes, the Phillies have a deeper outfield than most would think. They have Jay Bruce, who has the 6th most home runs since 2008 (312). There’s Nick Williams. He’s still only 26 with potential. Lastly, there’s the rookie Kyle Garlick.
So, who wins this battle and are there any other options? Let’s go through it, shall we?
Jay Bruce might be the most obvious choice and the most dangerous. Last year between the Phillies and Mariners, Bruce slugged .523 with 26 homers in just 310 AB.
He’s shown that power stroke again this spring. So far, he has 2 doubles in 5 AB, good for a .400 batting average.
Jay Bruce also happens to turn 33 right after opening day. He’s probably the Phillies’ biggest defensive liability out of the other options. Bruce also won’t hit for average. Since 2014, he has just a .233 average.
This could be Nick Williams’ last chance to build some value. Last season, he was abysmal, slashing .151/.196/.245. The Phillies sent him down to AAA and boy, were things different.
With the Iron Pigs, Williams slashed .316/.381/.574, infinitely better than in Philly. He has also shown potential in the past. He had a .776 OPS in 2017 and 2018. There should be no reason he can’t be a league-average or better left fielder in 2020.
The best part is if Williams does do well, the Phillies might be able to use him as trade bait come summer.
The Phillies could also throw newly acquired rookie Kyle Garlick out in left and see if he doesn’t stink.
…..I’m not sorry.
Anyway, Garlick had a great AAA season in 2019, albeit in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. With a .314/.382/.675 slash line, any pitcher would fear him. He’s also shown considerable power in the minors. He had over 18 all of his past 4 seasons.
With the Dodgers, Garlick spiced up the LA bench with a .842 OPS in 30 games. Giving a rookie a shot couldn’t hurt.
Speaking of hurt.
The oft-injured center fielder could see some left field action as well. Before he got injured last season, Quinn was on a tear. In his last 13 games, he slashed .368/.455/.684. You didn’t read that wrong. Quinn was a SLUGGER.
With his speed, he’s also an elite defender. If he performs in spring training, Quinn could be the most complete option.
Is Haseley currently slated to start in center field? Yes. Listen to this scenario, though.
Alec Bohm is currently 7 for 12 in spring training. That’s a .583 batting average. It’s unlikely, but if Bohm keeps hitting he could be the opening day 3rd baseman.
If that were to happen, Scott Kingery would most likely play center field and Hasely would shift to left. Haseley provides excellent defensive with a serviceable bat. This would probably be the least likely scenario.