The Phillies are loaded with fantasy talent, but they are old, have injuries and questions. I don’t have to sell you on established aces like Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels or on consistent but older players like Jimmy Rollins, so I’ll focus on guys with upside, downside or questions that are worth pondering.
Here are 10 to watch in 2013.
Roy Halladay (SP): Last year was uncharacteristic for Halladay. He battled shoulder soreness and managed to throw just 156 innings, posing an ERA of over 4.50. Certainly Halladay has the work ethic to return to ace form, but age and health are now question marks. His spring has been downright ugly, but for a middle tier price, he’s worth an investment just because the upside is so high.
Domonic Brown (OF): At this point he’s a way past post hype breakout candidate, but his red hot spring has certainly reopened a lot of eyes. That said, while he could actually be a breakout candidate don’t forget that in season he’s yet to show enough skill to even be an everyday player. The Phillies will give him a shot at the everyday left field job so he’s worth a flier. Cross your fingers that the spring training numbers are a harbinger of what is to come.
Delmon Young (OF): Young was supposed to be a star by this point but he’s really failed to build upon the groundwork he laid earlier in his career. He’s not going to be helped by Citizens Bank Park, which plays almost identically to Comerica where he played for the Tigers. That said he’s still a 15-20 home run contributor who’ll hit around .265. There is still some upside here -- he’s young enough to breakout -- but don't count on it.
Carlos Ruiz (C): If players in your league overlook Ruiz due the suspension that he’ll have to serve (25 games for PEDs), he might be an intriguing play at a bargain price. He’s capable of hitting for average and power. Upside is probably only about 20 home runs, and 15 is far more likely, but if you are looking deeply for a catcher keep him in mind.
Ryan Howard (1B): Old and slow, Howard is no sure thing. However his Achilles tendon should be fully healed which is a big plus. If he were younger and not due so much money going forward, he’s probably be in danger of sitting vs. lefties (he hit .173 against them last year and .224 in 2011). You can still probably count on 85-plus RBIs and 20-plus home runs, but at 33 Howard could fall off the fantasy cliff fast.
Kyle Kendrick (SP): With Lee, Halladay, and Hamels leading the Phillies rotation, Kendrick is easy to overlook. Still his second half numbers (9-4, 3.57 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 50% ground ball rate) could be warning us that Kendrick is going to break out and become something special. He still doesn’t strike out many, and the signs could be misleading, but he’ll be cheap, even in NL only leagues.
Michael Young (1B/3B): At 36, his name is a bit of a misnomer in terms of baseball age, but he’s still capable of contributing. However the speed is gone, the power is fading and you can do better at the position. In deep leagues he’ll still have value, but not much when compared to other corner infielders.
Ben Revere (OF): As soon as Jimmy Rollins gets hurt and Revere is shifted to the leadoff position his fantasy value will double. However for now it looks like the Phillies plan on batting him 8th. That will cut into his runs scored but will probably lead to more walks. Once he gets there he can use his blazing speed, and that's a good thing. Still I’d rather see runs scored than more walks, even if there are a handful of extra steal chances because of it.
Chase Utley (2B): He’s got bum knees and health concerns, but let's face it, second base is a shallow pool when it comes to quality and Utley still brings a fair bit to the table. It’s been three years since he managed more than 425 ABs, but he’s still been a 10-10 player each of those three despite the limited ABs. With a little luck 15-15 is possible, with 500-plus ABs it might even be possible for him to get more.
Darin Ruf (1B/OF): A torrid spring, following a 38 home run season at AA last year, has suddenly put Ruf squarely on the fantasy radar. The Phillies are looking to add more power and Ruf, who plays first but is learning how to be an outfielder could end up playing a role for the Phillies this season. Keep an eye on if the Phillies keep him on the opening day roster. Otherwise be sure to make a quick claim if Ryan Howard goes down or Domonic Brown flops once again.