Phillies need to double down on Matt Vierling

Phillies Nationals Baseball
Philadelphia Phillies’ Matt Vierling, right, high-fives bench coach Mike Calitri as he walks off the field after the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, Friday, June 17, 2022, in Washington. Philadelphia won 8-7 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Phillies do have a centerfielder worth looking at for the foreseeable future, and his name is Matt Vierling.

For much of the season, fans have clamored for the Phillies to acquire a center fielder. The calls for a change stem from a prior Odubel Herrera event (not talking about it here) and the fact that he’s hit just .230 with a .673 OPS on the season.

Mickey Moniak looked poised to take the job out of Spring Training but was hit by a pitch on the wrist in the final game. Once he got healthy, Moniak couldn’t hit major league pitching. He has a .125 average in 12 games.

Matt Vierling

On the surface, Matt Vierling’s stats don’t jump off the page. He’s slashed .242/.311/.379 so far in 2022. Things look a lot different when you realize Vierling was hitting .170 on May 10th. He was sent back down to Triple-A.

Since his return on June 7th, Vierling is one of the hottest Phillies’ bats. He’s been slashing .313/.365/.542.

In that time, he’s had a 2-home run game.

He’s hit a go-ahead homer against the best closer currently in the known universe.

He’s even flashed some leather.

Vierling has done everything that’s been asked of him this season. He’s seen defensive innings at every position excluding shortstop and catcher, yet he hasn’t committed an error. His versatility puts comparisons to Ben Zobrist in our minds.

In Zobrist’s first 3 seasons (2006-08), he slashed only .222/.280/.370. In Vierling’s first 2 seasons (74 games), he’s slashed .277/.333/.422.

Perhaps a better camparison could be Shane Victorino in 2006. That was the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s first full season where he slashed .286/.346/.414. Most notably, Victorino only had 4 stolen bases that season, despite his speed. Vierling could be in a similar vein as he’s in the 99th percentile in sprint speed among all major league players. He’s also only has 4 stolen bases so far in his career.

These comparisons could be a stretch as who knows what’s in store for the 25-year-old. He has all the tools to become a top-tier centerfielder, including an 80 grade love of ranch.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky