Phillies Season Review: “The Phold of ‘18”


  Heading into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, nobody considered the Philadelphia Phillies to be postseason contenders. Or even relatively close.

 Directly after hiring a historically divergent manager, Gabe Kapler, and after a five-year long roster overhaul, the Fightin’ Phils were written off as another one of those underachieving, 90-loss season teams.

   Young, inexperienced prospects, such as Scott Kingery, who signed to a six-year contract despite never having played in Major League Baseball, and Jorge Alfaro, a catcher with a rocket for an arm, had been thrust into everyday playing time.

  Fans saw these roster moves, and collectively sighed. Can you see that disappointment on their faces? Was the the front office effectively throwing the season in the wastebasket? Were they using the season as a 162-game practice session?

  While engaging in a “learning season” could help develop the Phillies’ young prospects into bona fide stars of the future, it also would mean ending the season before it ever even started. If front offices know anything about baseball fans, it’s that they want to see their team win, and they want it now — Veruca Salt-like.

 But would the Phillies risk it all for the future?

 That would certainly be a bold move, and if you want bold, Gabe Kapler is your guy.

  The 2018 Phillies season began with a three-game series in Atlanta. On Opening Day, Gabe Kapler made his first controversial move, removing ace pitcher Aaron Nola from the game with a 5-0 lead, all while he had only thrown 68 pitches. Kapler’s gutsy managerial decision ultimately cost the team the game, as the Braves came back to win 8-5 on a Nick Markakis 3-run walk-off home run.

  While the Phillies managed to rebound in the month of April, going 15-10 in the dreary, bitter weather, they got off to a rather slow start statistically. Young players Jorge Alfaro and Scott Kingery hit just .211 and .200, respectively, while the team collected a lowly .234 batting average.

  Even the notable free-agent acquisitions, first baseman Carlos Santana and 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, hit for a concerning .149 and pitched for a pedestrian 3.49 ERA respectively. While the team as a whole managed to win games by collecting timely hits, individual player stats didn’t prove that the Phillies were quite ready for prime-time.

    That sums up the season: a team that has shown promise at times to go deep into October, but just hasn’t quite put the puzzle together yet.

  As recently as August 7th, the Phillies were a comfortable fifteen games over the .500 mark, the divide between a winning and losing season.

 At the conclusion of the season, they finished two games under the mark, at 80-82. It’s no secret that the team had a tough second half of the season, but this kind of collapse will force manager Gabe Kapler to make a few tough decisions.

  Odubel Herrera, once viewed as a franchise, cornerstone player in the organization, has not warranted any such praise ever since the end of July. The quirky center fielder has hit a terrible .193 since the beginning of August, prompting serious discussions as to his future with the team.

    As for the team’s continuing aspirations to make it back to the postseason, “Red October” to many, who knows if the organization’s young players will ever prove themselves as the real deal.

  But you know what they say, there’s always next year.