We are now about a week gone since the end of the Philadelphia Phillies‘ 2021 season. The good news: the Phillies had their first winning season. The Bad news: The Phillies were one game in the AL Wildcard race away from having the longest playoff drought in all of baseball.
While the Phillies do have the longest playoff drought in the National League, there is reason to be excited about the team in 2022.
First, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the 2021 season.
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Bryce Harper is the likely NL MVP. We can’t guarantee he’s winning it, but he is a lock to be top 3 in voting. Harper will be in the same breath as the 2 brightest young stars in the game; Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Harper had the best performance of any Phillie at home since WWII.
Dolph Camilli slashed .359/.468/.732 at home in 1936 with 24 of his 28 homers coming at home. In 2021, Bryce slashed .329/.464/.667 at Citizens Bank Park.
Overall in 2021, Bryce led the league in doubles (42), slugging % (.615), OPS+ (179), and OPS (1.044).
You’d think Zack Wheeler would be up next to gush about since he’ll probably finish 3rd in Cy Young voting. Instead, it cannot be understated how much of an impact Ranger Suarez had on the Phillies in 2021 and how he could impact them as a full-time starter in 2022.
Ranger had the 2nd best sinker in the majors and the 6th best pitch overall.
He had 4 saves, a shutout, and a 1.36 ERA all in the same season. What else can you say? The Phillies have seemingly developed a lefty #3 starter. Suarez will not be a free agent until 2026.
Wheeler ended the 2020 season by getting a single vote for NL Cy Young. He figures to receive quite a few more at the end of this season.
The Phillies’ de facto ace led the league in innings pitch (213.1), strikeouts (247), complete games (3), and shutouts (2). Speaking of shutouts, let’s remember what Wheeler did on Roy Halladay Day.
His 7.8 bWAR was the highest among all pitchers and his 2.78 ERA was 5th in the majors. Since his arrival in Philadelphia, Zack Wheeler has had a 2.82 ERA. He has more than exceeded expectations and, luckily for the Phillies, he’s under contract through the 2024 season.
What can you say about Jean “James Cigarettes” Segura? The Phillies’ second baseman had a good season both offensively and defensively. In the field, Segura had 5 Defensive Runs Saved on the season. That’s his best mark since 2016, his last full season as a second baseman.
Hitting-wise, Segura slashed a respectable .290/.348/.436. His OPS+ sat at 111, meaning he was a better-than-average hitter. Jimmy Cigs also had a flair for the dramatic, contributing to big moments for the Phils.
2022 is the last year of Segura’s contract. Hopefully, the Phillies can make the most of it.
Future Reasons to be Optimistic
Yes, Alec Bohm couldn’t field to save his life in 2021 and his bat lagged along with his fielding. According to Dave Dombrowski’s end-of-season press conference, Alec Bohm is busy at work in Clearwater and will be throughout the offseason.
Dombrowski mentioned that there is still hope that Bohm will be the 3rd baseman in 2022. Hopefully, his hard work will pay off and reward the Phillies for the future.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bohm started ice cold but was doing well by the time he was sent down to Triple-A. In April and May, he slashed .203/.249/.302. From June on, he slashed .293/.361/.383. If anything was truly lacking in his offense, it was his power. Look for Alec to come back with a vengeance in 2022.
The Phillies will Spend
During a recent press conference, Dave Dombrowski pointed out that he now has a pulse on the club after his first full season of the team. Because of that, he can now put the puzzle together.
It’s no secret that the Phillies need multiple pieces and, luckily, we found out a key fact. The Phillies ownership did not force Dombrowski to stay under the luxury tax.
This doesn’t mean the Phillies will go over the tax, but at least we know they aren’t capping themselves from improving.
The Phillies’ 2019 first-round pick could be the real deal. Bryson Stott hit well across 3 different levels in 2021. Overall, he slashed .299/.390/.486 with 44 extra-base hits in 112 games.
“We like Stott as a shortstop. We think he’s going to be a good shortstop,” Said Dombrowski
He also revealed that other teams have been calling about trading for Stott. If other teams like him, there’s something there.
“4 Days Away”
Ultimately, the Phillies were 4 days away from being in the postseason. They got a true taste of a postseason race. Unfortunately, the Phillies just didn’t have the pieces to win the division. They were rolling out Brad Millers and Travis Jankowskis when they needed actual threats in the lineup.
There is a path for the Phillies to win in 2022. Everything will be riding on how the offseason pans out. However, there should be excitement heading into a new season.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire