Exploring lineup options for 2021 Phillies


We’re starting to see some glimpses of the Phillies’ 2021 lineup construction with J.T. Realmuto back from a fractured thumb.

Two nights in a row, Joe Girardi has batted Realmuto second and Rhys Hoskins fourth. That doesn’t mean Realmuto will hit second on opening day — Girardi is likely just looking at some different lineup combinations to see which makes the most sense.

Last season, Hoskins hit second in all 41 games he played and delivered a .384 on-base percentage, one of the main things you want out of a 1- or 2-hitter.

Bryce Harper’s lineup spot was reserved last season, too. He hit third in 48 of 58 games, batting second 10 times, only in games Hoskins did not play.

Realmuto hit fourth in 43 of the 47 games he played in 2020.

The guy who moved around the most was Didi Gregorius, who spent 24 games batting fifth, 16 batting fourth and 16 batting sixth. He also hit second, third and seventh.

Girardi likes to split up his lefties, so it would not be surprising to see Harper third and Gregorius fifth in most games this season. The biggest question could be those 4- and 6-spots.

Alec Bohm, who led MLB last season by hitting .452 with runners in scoring position, would make a lot of sense in the cleanup spot in Year 2. He spent just two games there last season. He has the kind of line-drive approach and .300-batting-average potential that could really reward the Phillies after their high-OBP trio of Andrew McCutchen, Hoskins and Harper.

Bohm has just 180 major-league plate appearances but has enormous offensive upside and might already be a better run producer than Realmuto, a good offensive player in his own right.

Realmuto is coming off of his best season at the plate, albeit in a drastically shortened season. He hit .266/.349/.491 with a career-high .840 OPS. He carried the Phillies for the first three weeks, hitting .300 with eight homers and 20 RBI in his first 65 plate appearances.

Realmuto, too, would be a decent cleanup option, and the Phillies could start the season with him there to avoid putting too much pressure on Bohm right out of the gate. Realmuto is the better baserunner — one of the best in baseball the last two years — who offers a better chance to advance two bases. And if Bohm bats sixth, that’s also a big run production spot.

Plus, you could see whoever bats sixth flip-flop with Gregorius when the Phillies face a left-handed starting pitcher, as they do on opening day against Braves southpaw Max Fried. Gregorius surprisingly slugged .469 last season against lefties with four homers, two triples and a double. Historically, that has not been the case. In just under 1,000 career plate appearances against lefties, Gregorius has hit .250/.302/.377. 

In games against a lefty, it could be Bohm/Realmuto in the five-spot with Gregorius batting sixth.

Then there’s Jean Segura, who figures to be one of the NL’s better 7-hitters. Segura does not get talked about as much as the guys projected to bat ahead of him in the Phillies’ lineup but is a tough out in his own right. 

Segura has hit .298 with runners in scoring position in each of his two seasons as a Phillie. Last season, he had a .920 OPS with RISP with four more walks than strikeouts. You can envision him prolonging rallies for the 2021 Phils with a run-scoring base hit out of that 7-spot, or setting the table at the bottom of the order.

The 8-hole will almost certainly be occupied by the Phillies’ centerfielder du jour. You can understand why Girardi wants more OBP out of that spot. The Phillies’ strength is their lineup and you don’t want to water that down by having two automatic outs at the bottom of the order. The best bets in that regard look like either Roman Quinn or Adam Haseley when he’s had enough ABs to settle back in from the groin injury suffered in early March. Odubel Herrera had a strong showing early in camp but is still swinging at almost everything. He'd been cold for a week and a half before doubling and homering off of Julio Teheran Saturday afternoon in Lakeland.

We could also see the Phillies go outside the organization at some point this season to add a centerfielder. In the past three days, Delino DeShields Jr. and Dee Strange-Gordon, two speedsters with center field experience, found out they were not making their respective clubs. That’s not to say either is the answer, but there will be guys who come available now and before the trade deadline capable of playing that position if no incumbent can seize it.

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