There are a lot of questions surrounding the aging Philadelphia Phillies as we kick off the 2013 season, such as if their starting pitching can return to dominance and if they’ll be able to put runs on the board, unlike last season. Adding to these questions are newcomers and young players with something to prove, and two Phillies in particular will be instrumental in Philadelphia’s success this year.
Although he'll be playing third base for the Phillies, the longtime Texas Ranger is naturally a shortstop who played more and more games as the DH in the last few seasons. Young is getting up there in age, but has proven to be a consistent player throughout his career. Through 13 years, the 36-year-old has batted .301 but has recently shown a decline.
In 2012, Young saw his worst batting average (.277), slugging percentage (.370) and on-base percentage (.312) since 2002, his first full year as a starter. Young will be batting fifth in the lineup, behind Ryan Howard. The hard-hitting first baseman has the potential to change games with a swing of his bat and if he has a good year, then Young will be forced into many clutch situations.
The fear Howard can put in opposing teams forces them to intentionally walk him sometimes, leaving Young with multiple RBI opportunities. This also means that if Young is hitting well, then teams will be afraid to pitch around Howard.
His lack of experience at third combined with his age could really help or hurt the Phils this season, too. Young has played in over 155 games every season since 2002, but in his last two seasons in Texas, he only started 83 games in the field—only 25 games at third base, where he committed two errors.
At only 25 years old, Brown has been a promising prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies, but has yet to break out and impress. Two seasons ago, Brown hit .245 in 184 at-bats and in 2012 he batted .235 with 187 plate appearances. Well, this season Brown gets to start in left field, really getting the opportunity to become the star the organization hoped he would be.
On a team filled with aging All-Stars, Brown is a young athlete who has plenty of speed and power. He’ll be batting behind Young in the sixth position, but that could change if he shows major improvement.
If the Phillies hope to make it to the playoffs, they not only will need to avoid down years from top players like Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins, but Brown must also break out of his shell. The offense lacked firepower last year and he could be the one to bring it in 2013.