The 2012 season has been a roller coaster ride of twists, turns, loops, spins, climbs, and dives for the Philadelphia Phillies, and we're only two months in.
It's been an odd season for this Phillies' ball club. With some of the injuries they've faced, including guys like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, you wouldn't expect this ball club to be in contention, but they are.
Though they've been in last place for most of the season, the Phillies have remained within striking distance throughout the season, and that is undoubtedly because of the fact that their fill-ins, replacement, and bench players have played well.
They've also had a number of guys who played smaller roles in the past step up and become major contributors.
But if the Phillies have any intention of conquering the challenging National League East and laying claim to their sixth consecutive division crown, they're going to need certain players to have good statistical seasons.
Here's a little forecast of what the player's numbers could look like on the final day of the season.
The Predicted Line: .250 / .310 / .320, 10 HR, 80 R
It's been a rough season for Jimmy Rollins and I just don't see it getting much better.
Rollins' .274 BABip suggests that there is some room for improvement this season, but his approach at the plate has been absolutely dreadful.
I think it is unreasonable for him to continue this level of performance, which is essentially rock bottom for Rollins, but don't expect it to get much better.
The Predicted Line: .310 / .340 / .330, 1 HR, 25 SB, 65 R
Juan Pierre has certainly been a pleasant surprise for the Phillies this season after signing a minor league deal over the winter, but he's due for some regression at the plate.
He's been incredibly lucky this season, dunking bloop hits into the outfield and leading the league in "seeing-eye-singles." (I just made that category up, but it sounds legit.)
Pierre will inevitably cool off, but he has been swinging the bat well and should remain productive in some capacity for the Phillies.
The Predicted Line: .290 / .360 / .450, 10 HR, 45 RBI
With Chase Utley finally having left the Phillies to ramp up his workout in Clearwater, soon to begin a rehab assignment, the biggest piece of this puzzle is trying to figure out how many at-bats he's going to get this season.
For now, I have him marked down right around 300. Obviously, that could change depending on the length of his rehab.
When he returns, however, I think we'll see a very healthy, very effective Utley. This isn't the same player that would try and tough out an injury in the past. He knows his condition and most importantly, knows that he can manage it.
Utley has spent most of the season making sure that his knees are as close to 100% as possible. That's why he has been out so long. He wants to feel confident that when he returns, he can be productive.
The Predicted Line: .260 / .345 / .495, 17 HR, 50 RBI
Ryan Howard gets the same caveat as Chase Utley: There's just no way of knowing how many at-bats he is going to get. For argument's sake, we'll say about 300.
Unlike Utley, it is absolutely impossible to gauge the effect of the torn Achilles on Howard's game. Utley has had played through his knee condition before. Howard has never attempted to return from an injury this severe.
There are just so many questions. What will be the impact on his power? Can he drive the ball? Can he stay in the lineup?
Personally, I don't think that the Achilles injury will have a huge impact on Howard's future. We've seen professional athletes come back from this type of injury before and have long, productive careers.
Now, we just need to see what it actually means for Howard.
The Predicted Line: .290 / .360 / .510, 35 HR, 100 RBI
I've been predicting a huge season for Hunter Pence since day one, and right now, there is no reason to back-peddle.
After being acquired by the Phillies' last season, Pence's power numbers jumped off the charts and that has carried right over into 2012. Prior to the All-Star break last season, Pence hit 11 home runs. He already has 13 prior to the break in 2012.
Advanced statistics show that Pence still has room to improve this season, and with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard eventually returning to give the lineup more depth, I think Pence is poised for a huge second half.
The Predicted Line: .315 / .390 / .520, 15 HR, 85 RBI
Carlos Ruiz is probably the most challenging player on this roster to predict stats for, and the reason is simple.
We all know that Ruiz is going to cool off eventually. The real problem is figuring out just how far his numbers will fall, and with the way he has been swinging the bat, making good contact with the ball, and employing an eagle eye at the plate, I don't think it will be that far.
Ruiz should finish 2012 with the greatest season, statistically speaking, of his career.
The Predicted Line: .280 / .345 / .480, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 25-30 SB
Shane Victorino's numbers are going to improve over the course of the season. We just don't know how drastically they'll improve.
Victorino is too good a hitter to be stuck with his current slash line throughout the rest of the regular season, and I think that once some of the Phillies' injured players return and Victorino gets a consistent spot in the lineup, he'll return to form.
He's also been dealing with a sore right hand and has struggled mightily hitting left-handed.
The Predicted Line: .285 / .320 / .360, 5 HR, 50 RBI
Placido Polanco is hitting well for the Phillies right now. The problem is that it just isn't enough production for an MLB third baseman, especially with Chase Utley out of the lineup and not providing power from second base.
Polanco is hitting right around .290 early in June but his on-base percentage is still hovering around just .320.
I don't expect much to change for Polanco by season's end unless he goes into one of his recent, troubling slumps.
The Predicted Line: 10-6, 2.85 ERA
Roy Halladay is another player who's projections for the rest of the season are going to be difficult because he is sidelined with an injury. For argument's sake, I'll follow the original timetable: Halladay will be shut down for three weeks and miss six to eight weeks total.
Admitting that he was hurting was obvious difficult for Halladay, who has been an iron man of sorts since joining the Phillies. However, it was obvious that the strain in his latissimus dorsi was causing him problems.
He wasn't throwing his fastball enough and was missing his spots. It wasn't the Halladay that people were used to seeing, and finally, he was shut down.
But when he returns, I think we'll see the "Doc" that everyone expects. When the lat strain heals, he should return to his normal fastball velocity and pitch selection, the two things that hurt him this season.
The Predicted Line: 12-5, 2.95 ERA
Cliff Lee isn't going to go win-less this season. That much I am sure of.
However, the rest of the picture is a little less certain for Lee. The Phillies haven't generated much run support for most of their starting pitching staff, so I would be a little surprised to see Lee rack up more than 12 wins, and he'll need to go on a hot streak to even do that.
The Predicted Line: 20-5, 2.90 ERA
Surprisingly enough, one pitcher that has been getting plenty of run support this season is left-handed starter Cole Hamels.
The Phillies are providing him with some of the best run support of his career and Hamels has turned that support into victories, as he's been right near the top of the league in wins for some time now.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Hamels secure his first 20-win season of his career this year, and heading into free agency as arguably the most sought after player, that certainly won't hurt his value.
The Predicted Line: 12-7, 3.35 ERA
Vance Worley has spent some time on the disabled list this season with a bone chip in his pitching elbow, but he returned Monday night to face the Los Angeles Dodgers and reported zero discomfort afterwards, which is a great sign.
With Roy Halladay on the DL, the Phillies are going to need Worley to keep them in ball games, and he certainly has the ability to do just that.
He'll need to shake off the rust and get in a rhythm before that's possible, however.
The Predicted Line: 8-12, 4.80 ERA
Joe Blanton was great during the month of April, but after his month of May and first start in June, April just seems so far away.
Blanton is struggling big time right now and I just don't see any indication that it is going to get much better. His fly ball rate is up, is home run rate is up, and at times, Blanton just doesn't seem like he can get out of certain innings.
The Predicted Line: .235 / .310 / .450, 5-8 HR
It's certainly no secret that Jim Thome got off to a slow start this season, and a sore back gave the Phillies an excuse to send him to Clearwater to get more at-bats in.
He was mashing the ball with the Clearwater Threshers and, if all goes according to plan, will be activated in enough time to serve as the club's designated hitter in Interleague Play this weekend.
Serving as the club's DH will do Thome some good, but the real question is just how productive he can be for the rest of the season. I think he'll hit some, but not much.
The Predicted Line: .260 / .330 / .390, 10-12 HR
Though his line may not reflect it, Ty Wigginton has been a pleasant surprise for the Phillies this season.
They acquired him from the Colorado Rockies over the winter hoping that he'd be a powerful right-handed bat off of the bench that could play a few different positions in a pinch to give regulars a breather.
Well, injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, as well as the fragile health of Placido Polanco, have forced Wigginton into the lineup regularly, and he has provided.
When guys like Howard and Utley return to the lineup, Wigginton will be reduced to more of a reserve role, but that's not a terrible thing for this type of player.
The Predicted Line: .275 / .335 / .460, 8-12 HR
It sounds like an odd thing to say, but losing Laynce Nix to an injury really hurt the Phillies.
Nix suffered a pretty severe calf strain nearly a month ago, and a recent report suggested that he wasn't particularly close to returning to the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins suffered the same injury a few seasons ago and missed more than 50 games.
There may be some good news, however. Nix was recently spotted doing some light exercise in the outfield consisting of light jogging, etc. It's not "baseball activities," but it's something.
Nix was hitting the ball very well when he hit the disabled list, and the Phillies hope he can pick up where he left off.
The Predicted Line: .255 / .310 / .370, 5-8 HR
Before we get started here, I gave Freddy Galvis an asterisk in the title of this slide. That's be cause the Phillies are likely to carry just five bench players when all of their injured players return. Of course, that doesn't count for potential injuries and such, but if the entire roster is healthy when the time comes, Galvis or John Mayberry Jr. may be a roster victim.
But that's a conversation for a later date. In the meantime, we'll operate as though both will be hanging around.
Galvis has been impressive this season, particularly with the glove where he manages to do something incredible seemingly night in and night out.
The bat has been somewhat of a different story, though, he hasn't hurt the Phillies nearly as bad as some (myself included) thought he would. Galvis has shown extra base power and improving discipline at the plate.
He has a bright future.
The Predicted Line: .245 / .290 / .340, 5-8 HR
The Phillies may soon face a difficult decision regarding John Mayberry Jr. He's out of options and eventually, they are going to have to clear space for some of their offensive reinforcements. With the way he has played, it is hard to make a case to keep Mayberry on the roster instead of guys like Freddy Galvis and Juan Pierre.
Mayberry just hasn't been able to get anything going at the plate. It is incredibly frustrating for a Phillies' team that thought he'd be the answer in left field this season.
His line is ugly right now and there is next to no evidence that he can make a drastic turnaround.
Of course, the Phillies could always carry just 11 pitchers, but they've shown a reluctance to do so in the past. The bromance between Mayberry and his supporters like Charlie Manuel may be nearing an end.
The Predicted Line: .260 / .300 / .410, 5 HR
It sounds kind of horrible to say, but given the way he swung the bat last season, I'm a little surprised that Brian Schneider hasn't been terrible this season.
It's not that I didn't think Schneider could still serve as a back-up catcher, because he's played well in that role, defensively speaking, for the Phillies. At the plate? Well, not so much.
After finishing 2011 with an OPS of .502 last season, Schneider has brought that mark up more than .200 points this season to .731.
I don't think he'll finish this strong, but 2012 should prove to be a much better season at the plate for Schneider than last year.
The Predicted Line: 8-8, 4.35 ERA
To say that Kyle Kendrick has been "hot and cold" this season would be a drastic understatement.
Kendrick has been scorching hot at times this season, as evidenced by the first complete game shutout of his career against the St. Louis Cardinals, and freezing cold, as shown by his shelling at the hands of the New York Mets earlier this season, where he was tagged with five earned runs in just an inning pitched.
He clearly prefers being in the starting rotation and has pitched well since being moved back there in light of Roy Halladay's injury. Kendrick should be able to keep the Phillies in games, but don't expect many more complete game shutouts.
The Predicted Line: 3-2, 3.40 ERA
When everyone is healthy, the final spot in the Phillies' bullpen could become a little complex. Mike Stutes and David Herndon have to be the favorites to land a final spot, while guys like Raul Valdes, Mike Schwimer, and Joe Savery will be in contention.
For argument's sake, I'll go with Stutes.
Stutes made six appearances this season before he was shut down with right shoulder inflammation. A recent update to his status suggested that he could begin a throwing program soon.
It was obvious that Stutes was hurting early in the season, and he just couldn't locate his fastball. The Phillies hope that he can give the bullpen the same kind of boost he did last season upon his return.
The Predicted Line: 2-3, 4.40 ERA
"The Rise and Fall of Chad Qualls" could be the title of a bad nightmare for the Phillies.
Early in the season, Qualls looked like a bargain when he took over as the club's set-up man and dominated hitters with his power sinker. As time wore on, Qualls continued to become less effective.
He struggled mightily and was eventual demoted from his set-up role, leaving the Phillies with an obvious need for a right-handed reliever to pitch in front of Jonathan Papelbon.
Things shouldn't get much better for Qualls, and that's a scary thing considering how poorly he has pitched recently.
The Predicted Line: 3-0, 2.30 ERA
Jake Diekman is legit.
With the Phillies' bullpen in a state of flux right now, they'll take dominant relief performances from wherever they can get them, and so far, Diekman has provided.
His only hiccup came in a game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Otherwise, he has been nearly untouchable.
Diekman has struck out 13 and walked two in just eight innings of work, and Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee have slowly worked him into more pressure-packed situations.
The guy has "set-up man" written all over him. Neither left-handed or right-handed batters have been comfortable against him and that won't change so long as he has that mid 90s fastball and not one, but two, solid off-speed pitches.
The Predicted Line: 4-2, 3.20 ERA
There's just something about Antonio Bastardo this season that isn't quite the same as the dominant set-up man from last year, and I haven't quite put my finger on it.
Maybe it's the fact that his fastball, which averaged 93.25 mph last season is down to 92.03 mph this season.
Maybe it's the fact that he's completely abandoned the change-up. That's right. Bastardo has thrown zero change-ups this season, according to Brooks Baseball.
Maybe it's the fact that his walk rate is climbing.
Whatever it may be, it is extremely difficult to discern because, although he seems different, Bastardo is still pitching well. However, his BABip of .225 may be his ultimate demise. If his struggles continue as Bastardo regresses to the mean, he'd be the second set-up man to have that label stripped this season.
The Predicted Line: 3-3, 2.20 ERA, 40 SV
If Jonathan Papelbon didn't have to pitch in non-save situations, he'd probably be breaking all kinds of records this season.
On a serious note, I don't see any reason that Papelbon can't continue to pitch as well as he has throughout the remainder of the season, even in non-save situations.
He's been every bit as good as advertised for the Phillies this season and is only going to get better with the return of some offense and even more so, when Roy Halladay returns.