Hitter-by-Hitter Breakdown of the Philadelphia Phillies' Lineup
Phillies fans have to be rejoicing at the sight of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the same lineup to begin the season.
While they don't pack as much punch as they used to, they will lead a lineup that is not exactly intimidating, but has the potential to be efficient and successful.
With the back end of their pitching rotation shaky at best, it is up to the Phillies' lineup to keep them in games and turn uncertainty into consistent run production up and down the lineup.
However, for this current lineup, the ceiling is as high as the floor is low. Where they end up in that middle ground comes down to one thing: execution.
I'll breakdown the Phillies' lineup that was used in their 7-5 Opening Day loss to the Atlanta Braves and should remain close to the same for the beginning part of the season barring injury (Knock on wood, Phillies fans).
1) Ben Revere, CF
Revere is definitely the better option to bat leadoff instead of Jimmy Rollins.
He will be asked to work counts, reach base by any means necessary and cause absolute havoc on the basepaths.
Revere would be a waste batting down in the order at either seventh or eighth. He is not a guy who will drive in over 50 runs and probably won't hit a home run all season. The good news is the Phillies don't expect him to do either.
Ben Revere is a crucial component to the Phillies' success this season. Stealing bases has to be the first priority for the speedy Revere, with the target probably somewhere around 50 or more swipes.
2) Jimmy Rollins, SS
Rollins has to understand that he is no longer "the guy" at the top of the lineup to jump-start offensive rallies.
Batting behind Revere, Rollins must take an unselfish approach this year; it remains to be seen if that is actually possible.
Rollins must be willing to lay down a sacrifice bunt here and there. It is also important for Jimmy to produce from both sides of the plate with two left-handed run producers batting directly behind him.
This will cause fits for opposing managers when it comes to bringing in pitchers down the stretch for matchup purposes.
Rollins is now a veteran whom the younger guys on the roster look up to and hope to emulate. If he stays away from laziness and complacency, Rollins will reap the benefits and praise from fans.
3) Chase Utley, 2B
First and foremost, Utley was in the lineup on Opening Day, a victory in itself.
With that step out of the way, the next step in the process is keeping him healthy. If he escapes the injury bug, he has the potential to get back to the Chase Utley of old.
The Phillies will rely on Utley to drive in the a majority of their runs this season. With Ryan Howard providing protection behind him, Utley should see plenty of pitches with runners on base, provided Revere and Rollins do their job.
Chase Utley is virtually synonymous with heart and hustle. The second basemen plays the game hard and is always willing to put his body on the line. Unfortunately, that body is quite fragile, and Phillies fans don't want to see him run himself into the ground.
4) Ryan Howard, 1B
Howard is the main power source for the Phillies this season, and if spring training has any relevance, Howard will be able to handle that responsibility and then some.
It is a great sign that Howard was there to begin the season as the cleanup hitter.
In order to make this offense run efficiently, Howard must get back to his old ways and hit the ball to the opposite field with power and consistency.
This prevents the defense from playing the shift for every at-bat and therefore will force pitchers to aim for both sides of the plate, thus improving the chances of a mistake middle-in.
Howard's high strikeout rates are almost inevitable but can be cut down by him not trying to press at the plate and working counts into his favor.
5) Michael Young, 3B
Young is just the leader the Phillies need for this season of uncertainty and doubt.
He can be relied on to play most of the season at a consistent rate offensively. Young is getting up there in age but still has the tools to be an above-average third baseman.
This may not be in terms of statistics, but regardless, Young understands the game of baseball and instinctively adapts correctly to specific game situations for the most part.
One of the most important aspects to watch for in Young is how he handles pressure at-bats, which there will be plenty of this year.
With Utley and Howard, two lefties, in front of him in the lineup, Young should have plenty of opportunities to produce late in games with the outcome in the balance.
6) Domonic Brown, LF
Domonic Brown absolutely raked this spring, and there isn't any doubt he was the Phillies' best hitter.
That is good and all, but every Phillies fan wants to see that carry over into the regular season. Once a prized prospect, Brown hasn't really proven anything in the big leagues thus far in his career. What better coming out party than the 2013 season?
With Brown lower in the lineup at six, it allows for him to play the game pressure-free, just how he likes and wants it.
He is not looked at as a possible All-Star, but he has to be a more than solid role player if the Phillies want to see offensive production as a whole increase from last year.
Discipline is key to Brown's success at the plate, and the more times he finds himself on base, the more confidence he'll instill in himself, a major recipe for success for the young left fielder.
7) John Mayberry Jr., RF
One of, if not the biggest problem areas for the Phillies this season is their right-field situation. For the sake of this, I will break down John Mayberry Jr., although Laynce Nix will be mixed into right field here and there.
Mayberry is one of those players who makes you scratch your head. There have been three- to four-game stretches in the past season or two where he will hit clutch home runs and back up manager Charlie Manuel's decision to keep believing in him.
Other times, Mayberry wouldn't be able to hit water if he fell out of a boat. Corny, but effective and sadly true. He hits dry spurts unlike any other player I can remember. Unfortunately, Mayberry is the human rally-killer.
To help this offense, Mayberry's duties are simple: Keep the rally-killing to a minimum and hit a few game-tying home runs late in games. Other than that, he really has no place to be on this roster, let alone starting.
8) Erik Kratz, C
Kratz is in a tough situation. While Carlos Ruiz awaits his return from suspension, Kratz anchors the load behind the plate and the eighth hole in the lineup.
Kratz simply has to be steady and weather the storm until Ruiz comes back.
If he can serve as a decent poor man's Ruiz, the Phillies won't have any serious issues. It is not as if they are relying on Kratz to be anything more than average anyway.
The lineup should expect Kratz to drive in some runs and hit a few home runs, but most importantly get on base enough times so when the lineup turns over, it isn't always with two outs and nobody on base.