While the 2021 season saw the Phillies miss the postseason for the 10th straight season, flashes of great play and stretches of success showed that this team could compete with a few more pieces. The major additions of this offseason (Schwarber and Castellanos) will bolster the lineup, but a revelation from last season may prove to be just as important.
25-year-old Matt Vierling burst into Phillies fans’ hearts in his limited time on the field and will have a great opportunity to showcase his abilities this spring. If he can continue to perform at the level he did in 2021; the Phillies may have stumbled upon a great centerfield option for the foreseeable future.
The Phillies brought back their previous foundational CF Odubel Herrera on a one-year deal, with the note of a planned platoon between Herrera and Vierling. However, Herrera has yet to play this spring with an injured oblique, while Vierling has had the most (tied) at-bats on the team this spring through 4 games.
Matt Vierling has made two starts in CF, and one at DH, so it is clear that they want to give him as much time in center as possible. He played only eight games at CF last season and was primarily at LF in the minors, despite being a college CF. The Phillies have made it abundantly clear that they desire a quality CF, drafting both Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley in the first round over the last six drafts. Haseley will definitely see some time this spring with Hererra injured, but the spot is Matt Vierling’s for the taking.
The best part about Matt Vierling’s role on the team is that he doesn’t have to worry about being a power bat. Many Phillies before him have struggled by being forced into a role that doesn’t suit them. Vierling has always been a line-drive hitter, with a notable drive off the bat at over 102 mph (one of only 9 to do so since 2015). Vierling can settle in towards the end of the lineup and help turn it over for the big dogs to eat.
The most crucial part of Matt Vierling’s game needs to be his defense. He had two assists in 200+ innings at CF and recorded 0 errors. He also ranks in the 95 percentile for speed in the majors, so he will be able to patrol gap-to-gap. Vierling is the best option at CF for the Phillies this year and is under Phillies’ control for a long time. It would be a major hindrance to his development if he did not dominate the shares in his platoon with Herrera/Haseley.