What can we expect from the Phillies offense? That’s really the big question going into 2011, isn’t it? After all, great things are expected from the starting rotation, and while the bullpen isn’t 1996 Yankees-good, it’s certainly expected to be good enough, and is a known quantity.
The offense, however? That juggernaut? The rock upon which, for so many years, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro built their church? For the first time I can remember, Phillies fans seem to be sold on the team’s ability to prevent runs, scoring them might be an entirely different propostion.
The way I see it, there are only three sure things in the Phillies’ lineup: Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, and Placido Polanco. Ruiz will play good defense, hit for a fairly high average and no power, but be on base a ton due to his tremendous plate discipline. Polanco will play good defense, hit for a very high average and no power, and never walk, so he won’t be on base much at all. Victorino will, in spite of being blessed with perhaps the best speed/throwing arm combination in the National League, play mediocre defense. He will also hit for a high average (though not as high as Polanco’s) walk (though not as much as Ruiz), hit for a little power and steal, conservatively, about 30 bases.
So that makes three positions where the Phillies can count on solid contributions from three good, but not great, players. There are, however, five other spots in the Phillies’ lineup, and anyone who says he knows for sure what the team will get, except in the most general terms, is lying. The answers to those questions will ultimately determine the course of the season.
What I want everyone to take away from this: whatever you think of what the Phillies offense was in 2010 and is in 2011, it’s at worst an above-average unit. And with this starting rotation, above-average is more than enough to win the World Series. So let’s step off the ledge and address each position case-by-case. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 1: Intro and First Base