Early thoughts on how 2022 Phillies could utilize the DH


Given their roster construction, no team wants the designated hitter in the National League in 2022 as much as the Phillies.

The 2021 Phils had a slew of DH-types: Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, Alec Bohm, Didi Gregorius, Brad Miller, as well as Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto when they dealt with injuries. From that group of seven, all but McCutchen and Miller remain on the 2022 roster.

The Phils are not set up to be a defensive-minded team. If they're finally going to snap a 10-year playoff drought, it will likely be through slugging and starting pitching. And if they can take one more poor defender off the field every day, it will make a difference.

While the NL is expected to adopt the designated hitter as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this winter, the Phillies do not stick out as a team that should pursue a classic DH like Nelson Cruz who has a huge bat but can't play anywhere in the field at 41. Instead, they're likely to do what most teams do nowadays and fill the spot with several different players.

If Bryson Stott pushes Didi Gregorius and wins the shortstop job in spring training, Gregorius could DH against right-handed pitching. Or the Phillies could try Gregorius at third base and use Bohm as the designated hitter in that scenario.

If switch-hitting Johan Camargo swings the bat well, he could push for starting opportunities at third base, which would also put Bohm in position to DH. The Phillies need to see a lot of Bohm this season to continue their determination of whether he can be an actual middle-of-the-order difference-maker. He was not last season in his first full year as a big-leaguer. Perhaps Bohm could reach a better place offensively and psychologically if he's able to worry less about the defensive mistake he made two innings ago.

Hoskins, Harper and Realmuto all dealt with injuries last season. Hoskins' year was ended early by a groin injury. Harper dealt with injuries to his back, shoulder, face and wrist. Realmuto suffered a fractured thumb in spring training, a contusion at the base of his catching hand in May, and took two foul balls off the mask in one inning in August, which is always a concussion concern for catchers.

Manager Joe Girardi recognizes the importance of getting those guys days off their feet and the designated hitter would allow for that. It could keep Realmuto fresher late in the season. Historically, his numbers have been significantly better in the first half than the second.

Miller would be another solid DH candidate for the Phillies but it remains to be seen whether they can bring him back. He played last year on a one-year, $3.5 million contract and hit 20 home runs as a super-sub. If 30 teams use a DH in 2022, it means there will be far more landing spots for Miller, who has big pop but no true defensive position.

Jim Salisbury and I discussed the Phils' DH situation at length on Wednesday's Phillies Talk podcast. Check it out below.

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