We are just a little over two weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. As baseball creeps back into form, it is time to take a look at the Phillies’ lineup for 2024.
The majority of last season’s roster remains with the team. With that idea in mind, you would expect the lineup to reflect what we saw at the end of the 2023 playoffs.
I would argue that the lineup needs a reshuffle, which could let the Phillies play into their strengths as a unit rather than trying to keep what worked in previous seasons. The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might apply here, but I can honestly say a mix-up could be the best move for the team.
Before you can build a lineup, you need to know what players you are working with. Pretend Rob Thomson is a chef, and the players are his ingredients.
JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, and Nick Castellanos are all guaranteed to be in the Phillies lineup come Opening Day. Barring injury, eight of the nine slots are covered, which shows the depth of the team’s lineup.
The question mark that still remains is what happens with Johan Rojas. The young center fielder hit .302 in the regular season before dropping to an average of .093 in the playoffs. Whether or not Johan gets the starting center field job will be determined in Spring Training.
On the bench, the Phillies are retaining Edmundo Sosa, Garrett Stubbs, Cristian Pache, and Jake Cave. They have Darick Hall, Weston Wilson, and Kody Clemens at their disposal as well. These players will likely be playing for a bench spot or two during the Grapefruit League exhibition games.
Unless the team adds a big league-caliber bat in Free Agency, this is the team we are working with when it comes to constructing a lineup.
If I were Rob Thomson, this would be the lineup that I pencil in on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves.
Lead Off Debate
The debate of whether Kyle Schwarber should bat leadoff for this team is one that will live on for the rest of his career in Philly. The fact of the matter is the team signed Trea Turner to be the lead-off hitter, and now that he is back to being himself, he will assume the role.
With that move in mind, I dropped Kyle to the fifth spot. This helps separate him and Harper as lefty hitters while giving Schwarber a chance to protect Castellanos in the lineup. The Phillies have a deep group that opposing pitchers don’t want to deal with. Knowing that Kyle can put the ball over the fence or work a long walk should hopefully give Nick more pitches in the zone.
A challenge to creating this lineup is the lack of a number-two right-handed bat. Alec Bohm, JT Realmuto, and Nick Castellanos are all really strong complementary pieces, but their deficiencies make it hard to feel strong in them towards the top of the lineup. With Bryce being a lefty, you want your surrounding players to be right-handed batters, forcing the other team to use less left-handed pitching.
JT struggled to hit at Citizens Bank Park last season. Nick Castellanos went on hot and cold streaks that flipped every other month, and Alec Bohm failed to deliver in some key spots during the post-season.
With all of that being said, I decided to give Alec the number two spot, sliding Nick Castellanos fourth, and JT Realmuto sixth. Out of the three, Bohm hits for average and has one of the lowest whiff rates in baseball. If he swings, chances are the ball is going to be put in play. Combining that with the elite speed of Trea Turner would be maximizing their strengths.
Best Bottom Ever?
Remember in 2019 when we claimed that Maikel Franco was the best eight-hitter in baseball? Well, the Phillies might have that player in Brandon Marsh.
Marsh was the best hitter in baseball in the month of April. While that production didn’t last the entire season, this member of the Phillies Daycare finished the 2023 season with a .829 OPS.
I opted to place Bryson Stott seventh. His unique skill of running up long counts is a great tool that will allow him to hit anywhere in a lineup. Getting him on base in front of Marsh is never a bad idea, either. These two combined were responsible for 27 home runs in 2023, and I would expect that number to increase in 2024.
Batting ninth is Johan Rojas. The now second-year outfielder is going to have to improve his swing if he wants to stick in the majors. Rojas showed flashes last season, but his post-season struggles have created a negative connotation for Phillies fans.
If Rojas can hit above his weight, his elite glove will keep him in the lineup. Waiting to see that improvement is what I am evaluating most in Spring Training. Keep your eyes on the youngest member of the offense in February and March.
At the end of the day, the Phillies will change their lineup constantly over the course of the 2024 season. Between resting players, injuries, and cold streaks, Rob Thomson’s hand is going to get forced at various points.
This is the lineup that the team should start the season with. I like how each player can complement one another as it progresses. Opposing managers will have to be crafty against them, while their pitching staff will have to be at their best.
Dave Dombrowski has assembled a solid group, but at the end of the day, the players will ultimately determine which lineup works best.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)