Philadelphia Phillies: Odds on Every Player on the Roster Returning in 2012

Greg PintoCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: Odds on Every Player on the Roster Returning in 2012

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    It's over.

    Looking beyond the heightened expectations and blind optimism for the 2011 season. Getting over the fact that yet again an anemic postseason offense took a mini-vacation and spoiled one of the greatest pitching staffs of all time. Realizing that Philadelphia's golden boy, a pitcher brought in to win in the postseason, blew the biggest lead any starter had. From Chase Utley's return to Hunter Pence's debut, from Cliff Lee's mastery to Roy Halladay's usual surgical position. The Philadelphia Phillies 2011 season was certainly an enjoyable one, and one to remember, but it's time to face facts.

    It's over.

    As the St. Louis Cardinals danced on the mount at Citizens Bank Park and celebrated throughout the Philadelphia night, the collective thoughts of the Phillies' organization changed focus. The season long thought of, "Which foe will we meet in the World Series?" quickly evaporated and became, "What needs to change for us to get back there in 2012?"

    With 102 games in the win column, there's no doubt that the 2011 version of the Phillies were a good team—a great team—and whether or not you believe the Phillies drew the short stick in the World Series or failed miserably, there's not much denying that fact.

    In spite of that, there's also no denying the fact that personnel will change. Scapegoats will be made and players will move on. That's just part of the game. "Baseball is a business." With any business, changes will be made, and future success relies on those changes. Big or small, obvious or not, every move matters.

    So with that in mind, and however painful it may be to do so, it's time to take a look back at last season's 25-man roster (plus a few bonuses!) and determine who will be wearing red pinstripes in 2012. Every player will be judged on a scale of 1-100% chance of returning.

    So without further ado, lets take a look at which players we can expect back in 2012 and who is ready to fly the coop.

Relief Pitcher: Antonio Bastardo

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    There is an argument to be made that no member of the Phillies' roster made larger strides than Antoino Bastardo in 2011. After bouncing through the Minors as a starting pitcher, he found his niche in the bullpen with the big league club.

    Injuries at the back end of the bullpen had what looked like a strength heading into the season looking more like a disaster about a quarter way through, with Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras, among others, battling injuries, but the young Bastardo stepped up and filled in nicely, dominating the opposition through the All-Star Break and into the second half, settling in as the team's set-up man (and temporary closer.)

    Though he hit a rough patch in the month of September causing a slew of concerns, there is a strong argument to be made that the 58 innings he threw took a toll on him. He looked tired and his "stuff" just wasn't the same.

    Regardless of what happened at the end of this season, he'll be a key cog to the Phillies' bullpen in 2012.

Starting / Relief Pitcher: Joe Blanton

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Joe Blanton will be back in some capacity next season. Unless the Phillies eat a huge chunk of the $8.5 million he is owed in 2012 (which isn't happening) or trade him while his value is at an all time low (which also isn't happening,) he'll be on the 25-man roster in some way, shape, or form.

    How he will be used on that roster is yet to be determined, and a huge question mark heading into the off-season. Blanton, who of course came to the Phils as a starting pitcher, battled elbow injuries all season long, and those injuries were left unresolved, despite his inclusion to the postseason roster. There are serious question marks about his durability (though I personally thought he was in significantly better shape at the end of the season) and his role may be in the bullpen, as opposed to the starting rotation.

    That may not be a bad thing. Though he threw just three innings out of the bullpen during the regular season, he was successfully, registering a FIP of just 2.03. Returning from injury, he used much more of his fastball and complemented with off-speed pitches, straying from his curveball.

    Given the depth of the Phillies' starting pitching, stashing Blanton in the bullpen may not be a bad thing.

Starting Pitcher: Roy Halladay

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    I think this kind of goes without saying.

    Roy Halladay, who is under contract through the 2013 season with an option for 2014, will return as the Phillies' ace and has shown no signs of slowing down. He led all starting pitchers in baseball in WAR, FIP, and SIERA for the 2011 season, building a strong case or yet another Cy Young Award.

    If all goes according to plan, "Doc" will once again get the nod on Opening Day.

Starting Pitcher: Cole Hamels

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Cole Hamels is arbitration eligible this off-season, but the chances of him rejoining the Phillies for the 2012 campaign are, well, 100%. As expected, Hamels really reached his "ace" potential in 2011, baffling hitters with his change-up and using his refined cutter effectively.

    Though he's eligible for arbitration, the Phils' front office will probably look to avoid a hearing at all costs. Hamels will be due a significant raise on his 2011 base salary of $9.5 million. The Phillies will look to lock up their homegrown lefty by signing him to an extension and avoiding arbitration. After all, Hamels would be a valuable commodity on the open market following the 2012 season, and there is no guarantee that the Phils would be able to re-sign him.

    For 2012, however, he'll be back in the Phillies' rotation, as ace number three.

Relief Pitcher: David Herndon

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    Chance of Return: 65%

    David Herndon, a former Rule 5 Draft pick, will be in the Phillies' organization come Opening Day 2012. There is no doubt about that. Whether or not he is on the Opening Day roster, well, that is a less certain debate.

    Though he spent the majority of the 2012 season in the Phils' bullpen, the presence of Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, and Joe Blanton make his actual role in the bullpen less than certain, depending on how the back end of the starting rotation shakes out. A possible return of Roy Oswalt could knock that percentage down even further.

    After posting a FIP of 5.03 in 57 regular season innings, Charlie Manuel made it known how he really felt when he took Blanton into the postseason over Herndon, who had been pitching out of the bullpen all season long.

    There could be a lot of turnover in the Phillies' bullpen, and that may open a spot for Herndon, but there is no guarantee and if the front office is able to find an upgrade (which shouldn't be hard, considering a number of internal options,) Herndon may not see much of Philadelphia in 2012.

Relief Pitcher: Kyle Kendrick

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    Chance of Return: 85%

    Kyle Kendrick is an interesting case, and an 85% chance of his return may be a bit generous. He is arbitration eligible once again this off-season, and is due a raise on his 2011 base salary of $2.45 million, which will push his 2012 salary above $3 million. If the Phillies are able to work out a deal with Roy Oswalt, that is a lot of money to pay a long reliever, especially considering that you can't do much worse by paying David Herndon the league minimum for that role.

    Believe it or not, Kendrick was a valuable asset for the Phils in 2011. He was asked to pitch in numerous situations and, though he wasn't always successful, his versatility helped the club out in general. I think the chances of him being non-tendered are slim (though he could be non-tendered and re-signed as a free agent.)

    There is a very good chance that Kendrick is back with the Phillies in 2012, but a smaller chance exists that the Phillies go in a different direction as well.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    I don't think the Phillies are going to trade Cliff Lee because they didn't win the World Series this time around.

    After signing a five-year deal last winter, Lee was as-advertised for the Phils in 2011. Aside from a few shaky starts (and one really noticeable one in the postseason,) he was absolutely dominant. He established a new career high in strikeouts, posting a FIP of just 2.60 and an equally impressive SIERA of 2.72.

    Putting him ahead of Clayton Kershaw or Roy Halladay for the Cy Young Award would be a bit outlandish, in my opinion, but he certainly had a season worthy of the award, further demonstrating just how dominant the Phillies' starting pitching actually was.

Relief Pitcher: Brad Lidge

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    Chance of Return: 50%

    First things first: The chances of the Phillies' exercising Brad Lidge's 2012 option for $12.5 million are zero. Nilch. Nadda.

    Even if he were able to prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season, Lidge just hasn't been as effective as imagined when he and the Phillies inked a contract extension during the 2008 season. That option was in serious doubt from day one.

    That said, I think it would be wise for the Phillies to bring Lidge back into the fold for the 2012 season, assuming the price is right. The whole concept of "veteran leadership" is often over-stated, but the Phils are going to be very young in the bullpen in 2012, with names like Mike Stutes, Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus, and Phillipe Aumont in the mix. Lidge has proven that he is a quality leader out in that bullpen, and that could be the difference between these young relievers failing or succeeding at the Major League level.

    Though he was as erratic as usual in 2011 with his command, Lidge showed that he can be extremely useful in a limited role. He may no longer be the closer that he once was, but there is still a role for Lidge in this bullpen.

    At this point, I would say it's literally a toss up. If he is willing to return to the Phillies on the cheap, they'd be wise to welcome him back with open arms. On the same token, that are teams that will recognize he could be an asset to their bullpen.

Relief Pitcher: Ryan Madson

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    Chance of Return: 40%

    It seems as though there are two schools of thought emerging about Ryan Madson. Either he'll have enjoyed his time in Philadelphia enough to stick around for a fair price, or he'll get on the first plane to whatever city's team pays him the most money, and boy, does Madson have agent Scott Boras seeing dollar signs.

    Heading into the season, Madson was almost an afterthought in a market stocked full of high-end closers, but the perfect storm of events has him sitting right at the top, along with the likes of Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell. Teams are going to need closers, and Madson is going to get paid top dollar.

    With that being said, Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has openly stated that he'd like Madson back. In fact, he said that one way or another, he is going to have a veteran closer on his roster in 2012. He certainly made it sound as though Madson was his first choice, and with good reason.

    Personally, I think that Madson is wearing a different uniform in 2012, with one of those other veteran closers being introduced, so I'm setting the percentage chance at less than half. Would I be surprised to see him return? No. Do I think it's likely? Not at all.

Starting Pitcher: Roy Oswalt

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    Chance of Return: 25%

    Roy Oswalt is a tough call. The chances of the Phillies exercising his hefty option are somewhere between slim and none, if for no reason other than that is money well spent elsewhere. With that being said, there is mutual interest between the Phillies and Oswalt, who through a flux of emotions this season, has decided that he still wants to play baseball.

    In a weak free agent market for starting pitching, once a guy like Oswalt hits the open market, there is no guarantee that he will return. Despite an injury history that will be a concern to some teams, there is no reason to believe that Oswalt will not command a contract similar to Chris Carpenter's suspension (or about two years and $20 million.)

    If he is willing to take a pay cut to return to the Phils' rotation, I'm sure they would welcome him with open arms. My gut feeling that a team desperate for starting pitching will make him a very good offer combined with David Hale's report that Oswalt looked like he was on his way out following the Phillies' Game 5 loss (I would read through the whole chat, here. A ton of good information,) really have me convinced that Oswalt will likely be with a different club in 2012.

Relief Pitcher: Jose Contreras

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Jose Contreras has become the forgotten reliever on the Phillies' roster. After being shut down and placed on the 60-day disabled list because of arm troubles, the "Big Truck" had successful surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

    He was highly effective before his injury, taking the role of closer for a while, and as long as he is healthy, will play a vital role in the back end of the Phils' bullpen in 2012.

Relief Pitcher: Mike Stutes

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    Chance of Return: 95%

    Like David Herndon, there is no doubt that Mike Stutes will be in the Phillies' organization next season, but I wouldn't necessarily call the chance of him being on the roster on Opening Day "100%."

    When the Phillies' bullpen was battling a slew of injuries, Stutes was one of the first young guns to be called on as reinforcements and never looked back. Though he may not have been the dominant late innings reliever that some made him out to be, he was certainly a quality arm.

    The uncertain futures of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge make the right handed Stutes a valuable commodity, and he is on top of that pecking order of young relievers ready to take over for the Major League club.

Starting Pitcher: Vance Worley

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    After being sent to the Minor Leagues early in the season because of inconsistency and a need to build arm strength, Vance Worley returned to the Phillies' starting rotation when Joe Blanton went down with what would become a near season-long injury, becoming a fan-favorite and Rookie of the Year contender in the process, baffling hitters with a nasty two-seam fastball.

    After collecting 11 wins and posting a FIP of 3.32, Worley made a spot for himself in the starting rotation next season regardless of what becomes of Blanton and Kyle Kendrick, and even if that were to fail, he has shown that he can be effective out of the bullpen as well.

    Worley stepped up when the Phils needed him most in 2011, and will be counted on once again in 2012.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    If I was going to be dramatic, I'd put the chances of Carlos Ruiz returning at more than 100%.

    "Chooch" has proven himself to be an invaluable part of this club, not only handling the best pitching staff in baseball with relative ease, but by proving no slouch at the bottom of the order, where he posted an OPS of .754 with a majority of his at-bats coming as the eighth hitter in the order.

    He'll be behind the plate again in 2012, tasked with handling the pitching staff with the expertise we've come to expect, and the flare that we love to enjoy.

Catcher: Brian Schneider

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    Chance of Return: 50%

    There hasn't been much talk about Brian Schneider, a soon-to-be free agent, once the season ended, so it's pretty much a toss-up concerning his 2012 status, with obvious pros and cons on bringing him back.

    From the pro perspective, Schneider has been with the club for two years now and knows this pitching staff—not a simple task. With Carlos Ruiz doing the heavy lifting, catching for guys like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, Schneider has been given the task of filling in when Ruiz needs a day off, or as last season showed, being Vance Worley's personal catcher. He is a very good game caller, and that is something the Phillies' like.

    The obvious con is his lack of offensive output. Once a good offensive catcher, Schneider has become a black hole at the plate, and while getting offensive production out of your back-up catcher is certainly not a priority, the lack of offensive production is certainly a concern.

    If the Phils are that comfortable with him, they'll bring him back on the cheap, but if not, there are numerous options for the position, headlined by 2011 Minor League standout, Erik Kratz.

First Baseman: Ryan Howard

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    The Phillies are stuck with Ryan Howard. I'm not going to sit here and bash the man because that is not necessarily a bad thing. Is his contract one of the most ridiculous, ludicrous contracts in all of baseball? Absolutely. But I'm an optimist through and through, so I'll try and find the silver lining here.

    Firstly, when Howard is going right, he is still a threat at the plate. He may not be the threat he once was and as close to an automatic out as you can get when a left handed pitcher is on the bump, but even still, teams have to respect his power, and the fact that he has been productive out of the clean-up spot, though, not as productive as you'd like for $125 million.

    In regards to the contract—at least it's only for five years.

    Yes. I took the "it could be worse" route. It's a terrible contract.

First Baseman: Ross Gload

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    Chance of Return: 20%

    If you can say nothing else about Ross Gload, at least give him credit for playing wounded for an entire season. Gload, who recently had surgery to repair his fraying hip, was the Phillies' primary left handed bat off the bench this season, a role that he normally excels in. It was painfully obvious, however, that he was in too much pain to be productive this season, and the results have the Phils looking at other options.

    His contract expired following the 2011 season, and though a healthy Gload is still a productive Gload in my mind, it seems that the general consensus from the Phils' camp is that they'll be moving on for 2012. One name that keeps popping up over and over again is Jim Thome, and regardless of who they'll add for that late inning pinch hitter spot, know that he'll have some power—something the Phils' bench desperately lacked.

    I wouldn't completely close the door on Gload, but I'd imagine it would be a "last resort" kind of thing.

Utility Man: Michael Martinez

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    Chance of Return: 70%

    Outside of their obvious needs, one of the things the Phillies' front office will look to do this off-season is upgrade the bench. Keeping Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 Draft pick, on the 25-man roster for the entire season means that he is officially property of the Phillies, and that may mean nothing more than now they have the flexibility to send him to AAA.

    His versatility makes him an appealing option, but in reality, he does nothing well. He is not a threat to do anything at the plate, can be a liability on defense, and is dreadful at trying to lay down a bunt. Personally, I don't see much upside in keeping him on the active roster. This is a position that the Phillies can and should upgrade.

Third Baseman: Placido Polanco

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    Chance of Return: 95%

    Placido Polanco's $6.5 million salary for next season almost makes him a sure thing to return, but recent comments from the Phillies' organization have planted the seed of doubt. After a season riddled with injuries and inconsistency, both Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr. have suggested that Polanco may not be an everyday player any longer.

    Mulling over those comments, third base is realistically the only position the Phils could add a bit of offense, so it isn't odd to see both the team's manager and general manager single out the guy who couldn't stay healthy and posted an OPS of just .674 from the hot corner.

    If the Phillies were to upgrade at third base, that wouldn't necessarily spell the end for Polanco. His contract makes him nearly unmovable, and he would shift to the bench as the top utility man—not necessarily a bad gig, considering the health and age of this infield.

    There is a slim chance that a team needing a second baseman (or defensively adept third baseman) comes calling, but the chances are very high that Polanco is with the club in 2012.

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins

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    Chance of Return: 70%

    70% may seem a little generous, but I truly believe that the Phillies will bring Jimmy Rollins back into the fold this off-season. Listening to the shortstop's comments following the season, it is clear that he is proud of the effort he has put into helping turn this franchise around, and would like to return. But as Ruben Amaro Jr. so frankly put it when discussing Ryan Madson's status, "It takes two to tango."

    There is no chance that the Phils meet Rollins' demand of a five-year contract (which is more than likely just Rollins trying to set the market,) but it is not unreasonable for the two sides to come to an agreement. Rollins, who had his best offensive season since 2008 and played his usual above-average defense, is easily the second best shortstop on the market. If he wants to return, there will have to be a bit of give from his camp as well.

    In the end, I think the Phillies realize that they need Rollins more than any potential free agent, due to a lack of alternatives. While some believe that prospect Freddy Galvis can fill in defensively, his lack of offensive production is a huge detriment for a team already facing numerous offensive question marks. There is an outside chance that they bid on Jose Reyes, but he doesn't seem like much of a fit for the Phillies.

    In the long run, it may as well be Rollins-or-bust.

Second Baseman: Chase Utley

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Though it's almost painful to say, a longer off-season may do Chase Utley some good. Though he seems to have gotten ahead of the curve his balky knee has thrown at him, there was a serious decline in his offensive output—especially his power numbers. Ruben Amaro Jr. blames this on his once-injured knees, and the Phillies are hoping that he is able to have somewhat of a rebound in 2012.

    With that being said, he did manage to post an OPS of .769, and will be the Phils' starting second baseman (health permitting) once again on Opening Day.

Utility Man: Wilson Valdez

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    Chance of Return: 50%

    Wilson Valdez's return, at this point in time, is a real toss-up. His 2012 employment status heavily hinges on what course of action the Phillies decide to take over the off-season. A once valued utility player, Valdez became nothing short of an albatross at the plate in 2012, and the versatility of Michael Martinez helped sap his playing time.

    His playing time could reach zero for the Phillies in 2012. If the team is to go out and upgrade at third base, Placido Polanco would assume the role of utility man, and Martinez's versatility once again makes him a more valuable commodity.

    Valdez could very well return to the Phillies in 2012 (he is eligible for arbitration for the first time,) but I think it's more likely the Phils head in a different direction.

Left Fielder: Domonic Brown

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    Chance of Return: 80%

    The last couple of seasons have been a roller-coaster ride for Domonic Brown. With Jayson Werth's departure before last season, it looked as though he would finally get his chance to play every day, but he lost out a spring competition to Ben Francisco, and when he struggled, the Phils went outside of the organization to upgrade in right field, bringing Hunter Pence aboard.

    Brown, now learning left field in AAA, seemed like a lock to take over in left for the Phillies to begin the 2012 season, but a combination of poor play with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the emergence of John Mayberry has his 2012 status up in the air.

    All in all, he was solid with the Phillies in 2011, posting an OPS of .725 and working the count much better than he had in his previous stints. If the Phils are serious about changing their offensive approach, as Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated, inserting Brown into the lineup would be wise.

    With that being said, however, it is clear that Mayberry is the favorite to take over the left field gig, and the only chance Brown has of making the roster on Opening Day depends on whether or not Ryan Howard is ready to play first base (because if he's not, Mayberry would play there.)

    More than likely, Brown will be in the organization, but there is certainly no guarantee that he is on the Opening Day roster in 2012, or even that he plays with the Phillies at all next season.

Outfielder: Ben Francisco

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    Chance of Return: 70%

    Ben Francisco is an interesting case. Once upon a time, the Phillies believed that he could be their everyday right fielder, and now, he's barely assured a spot on the bench. Used as the primary pinch hitter against left handed pitching for most of 2011, Francisco posted an OPS of just .661 against lefties and a wRC+ of 86—below league average.

    John Mayberry Jr. landing a starting job means that Francisco is the best right handed bat on the bench, but that isn't saying much, especially if Placido Polanco, who posted an OPS of .828 and a wRC+ of 130 against lefties, is still riding the bench late in ball games.

    Like a couple of other guys on this list, Francisco's status depends heavily on what happens with other players, but it wouldn't be crazy to see him playing elsewhere in 2012, especially considering the fact that he is eligible for arbitration for a second time this winter.

Left Fielder: Raul Ibanez

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    Chance of Return: 5%

    Raul Ibanez's days as the starting left fielder for the Phillies are over. Having just finished a three-year contract, the only above-average performance he has to show is the first half of 2009. 2011 was his worst season to date, as he became a liability not only in the field, but also at the plate, posting an OPS of .707 and a wRC+ of 90. 

    With the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the existence of Domonic Brown, there just isn't a need for the Phils to bring Ibanez back. I suppose the team could explore bringing him back as a left handed bat off of the bench, but a tendency of going into long funks at the plate and just average numbers against right handed pitching (.747 OPS, 101 wRC+,) I think Ibanez's days with the Phillies are over.

Left Fielder: John Mayberry Jr.

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Ladies and gentleman, your 2012 starting left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, John Mayberry Jr.

    Well, we may be getting ahead of ourselves there, but Mayberry is certainly the most likely man to be playing in left field on Opening Day next season. On his last leg with the organization when the year began, Mayberry made a few tweaks to his swing and it has paid off big time, driving his power numbers through the roof and earning him trust in the eyes of coaches and management alike.

    He has always played quality defense in all three outfield positions, but his offensive potential never really emerged until 2011, when he posted an OPS of .854 and a wRC+ of 133.

    With Domonic Brown in the hunt, the Phillies won't go so far as to say that Mayberry will be the starting left fielder in 2012, but provided he doesn't flame out in Spring Training, the left field job is his to lose.

    Of course, there will be room for both Mayberry and Brown should Ryan Howard not be ready to go on Opening Day—a likely scenario.

Right Fielder: Hunter Pence

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    When the Phillies brought Hunter Pence aboard at the trade deadline, they knew they were getting a good player. I don't think anyone imagined that he would have the impact that he did on the organization, not only being the great baseball talent that they expected, but a fan-favorite that fits in more than perfectly.

    After joining the Phillies, Pence matched his home run total with the Houston Astros (11) despite playing in 46 fewer games, and became an absolutely offensive force for the Phils, posting an OPS of .954 and a wRC+ of 158—well above league average.

    He is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter, but it would not surprise me in the least bit to see him agree to a multi-year extension.

Center Fielder: Shane Victorino

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    Chance of Return: 100%

    Shane Victorino is going to play a pivotal role for the Phillies' offense in 2012, especially if the team cannot come to terms with long-time shortstop, Jimmy Rollins. They'll need Victorino to be a catalyst, something that he made great stride towards during the 2011 season, showing that he could do a bit of everything on the offensive side of the ball.

    The "Flyin' Hawaiian" posted an OPS of .847, hitting 17 home runs, and stealing 19 bases, all helping him generate a wRC+ of 135. Defensively, it wouldn't be surprising to see him take home another Gold Glove this season, as he was yet again, statistically, one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball.