Originally posted on The Recliner GM  |  Last updated 4/2/12

OK – so obviously new jobs/responsibilities/life events have killed off Dannie (blog-speaking) and have severely limited me. But the reason for this blog was never to make money, it was as a creative outlet for reasonable sports discourse, and the start of baseball season still gets me very fired-up and in need of that outlet…

I only got to one part of my Phillies preview, the now-doomed infield. So I’ll summarize that here and shoot through the rest of the team, based on how I think they will perform compared to 2011.

In-fact, let’s just shoot through the 25-man roster…

C- Carlos Ruiz: No reason to expect much different output from last year. Even.
1B- Ty Wigginton: Who knows how long Ryan Howard will be out and it’s not the Achillies will have him back at 100% when he gets there. But I do think he will be back this year. Minus 1 win (factors in that Howard will return). 
2B- Freddy Galvis: Think Rey Ordonez. Wizard with the glove, should probably be hitting behind the pitcher with the bat. I don’t expect Utley back until June at the earliest. Minus 2.5 wins (factors in that Utley will return).
3B – Placido Polanco: Has actually looked good in spring training. If he can stay healthy, he could improve on his 1.8 WAR from last year, but I would never, ever, bet on him staying healthy. Even.
SS – Jimmy Rollins: Played a little above his average last year at 3.7 WAR. I’m going to drop him down just a tad. Minus 0.7 wins.
RF – Hunter Pence: Pence’s WAR last year between Houston and Philly was 5.2. His previous high was 3.3 (his rookie year) and the prior two seasons he averaged a measly 1.5. So where do we put him in 2012? I think that he does have the ability to be closer to the 5.2 than the 1.5, but I don’t think he’ll be quite as good again, primarily because of his very high BABIP last year. I’ll put him at 4 for now. He had a 2.5 of his WAR with the Phils last year, so by being here the whole year, he’ll be plus 1.5 wins.
CF – Shane Victorino: Vic had a 5.0 WAR last year, his best of his career. His prior 3 years were 3.5, 2.4 and 3.7. I’ll put him ahead of those, but don’t think he’ll match last year. Minus 1 win.
LF – Juan Pierre: Wait, what? I could write a long diatribe about why I think Juan Pierre shouldn’t be anywhere near our starting line-up, especially over Scott Podsednik, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry, but I’ll save time for now. Pierre was exactly a replacement player last year (0.0 WAR) and averaged 0.7 WAR per season over the prior 4.  I highly, highly doubt he’ll be the starting LF for the entire season, and I also highly doubt he’ll be any good (would be thrilled to be wrong). However, the bright side is our starting LF last year, Raul Ibanez, was worse than a replacement player (-0.4 WAR) so anything from LF is a positive. Plus 0.5 wins. 

Overall line-up vs. 2011: Minus 3.2 wins

SP1 – Roy Halladay: Had a little velocity “scare” in the spring, but it’s unlikely he’s about to fall apart. His 7.4 WAR last year was the 2nd best of his career, and I don’t expect him to be quite that good this year. Minus 0.5 wins
SP2 – Cliff Lee: Also notched the 2nd best WAR of his career and I also expect a slightly “worse” year this season. Minus 0.5 wins.
SP3 – Cole Hamels:  Pitching for a massive contract, 28 years old, and coming off his career year. I expect him to be very, very good. Plus 0.6 wins.
SP4- Vance Worley: Sorry, I’m selling on Vance. His  stuff and minor league numbers tell me he’s not nearly as good as showed last year. He’ll be serviceable, but not near his 2.8 WAR. Minus 1.8 wins.
SP5 – Joe Blanton: Has looked good in spring, and is pitching for another contract. However, for the purposes of this, he’s being compared to Roy Oswalt and his 1.7 WAR. I expect Blanton to be in that range. Even. 

Overall rotation vs. 2011: Minus 2.2 wins

CL – Jonathan Papelbon: Madson had a 2.2 WAR last year and Papelbon 2.0. I do think Paps will pitch well, but Madson was really, really good last year. Even.
SU – Antonio Bastardo: I think his stuff is nasty enough to repeat his 2011 campaign. And it seems like his spring troubles have been resolved. Even.
The Rest – This is a little difficult because so many guys filter through the bullpen each year. Last year, aside from Bastardo and Madson, the Phillies bullpen (Contreras, Stutes, Lidge, Herndon, Romero, Mathieson, Perez, De Fratus, Zagurski, Schwimer, Baez and Carpenter) had a 1.2 WAR, brought down considerably by Danys Baez and his -0.9 mark. This year, you are looking at Qualls (0.5), Herndon (0.3), Stutes (0.0), Contreras (0.0), Kendrick (0.5) and then a mix of Joe Savery and the minor league brigade. When the dust settles, it’s likely the bullpen will be very similar in terms of production to last season. Even. 

Overall bullpen vs. 2011: Even

C – Brian Schneider: -0.9 WAR last year, and not getting better. Even.
1B – Jim Thome: A potential big upgrade (as bench players go) over Ross Gload (-0.3 WAR last year). Plus 0.5 wins.
Inf – Hector Luna: The darling of the spring – I’m hopeful he gets the spot over Pete Orr. Would be an upgrade over Mini-Mart, but playing time limits the impact. Plus 0.2 wins.
OF – John Mayberry: Even though he had a lot of starts last year, I still need to compare him to himself. His 2.5 WAR was an aberration, in my opinion (based on his stats from 3,000+ minor league ABs), and I don’t expect him to be the next Jayson Werth. Still a very solid 4th OF. Minus 1.5 wins.
OF – Laynce Nix: All he has to do is beat Ben Francisco’s horrible -0.9 WAR to be considered an upgrade here. Sadly, I think Nix is horrible as well (2 years, really?), but will still be a modest upgrade. Plus 0.5 wins. 

Overall bench vs. 2011: Minus 0.3 wins. 

So, all of these put together gives us a total of the Phillies being just about 5.7 wins worse than 2011 based solely on our own personnel. Our expected W/L record in 2011 based on runs scored and allowed was 103-59 so that puts us at 97-65.

However, we obviously have to bring into play how our division changed. Our 38 games against the Marlins and Nats should be tougher than last year, while our 19 against the Mets should actually be easier (with the Braves staying the same). I’ll drop us 3 more wins for the increased difficulty in schedule, and put us at 94-68 on the season. That should be enough to win the division by a couple games, and would DEFINITELY be enough to make the stupid new playoff format. Vegas seems to be in line with this prediction, as they have the O/U for Phillies wins at 93.5. Utley and Howard not coming back at all might drop us into the 90-91 range, but that should still be good enough.

We’ll see how the season plays out. There are (obviously) always a lot of surprises, good and bad.

The Rest of the League

So how would the Phils 94 wins stack up against the rest of baseball? I did a similar (but quicker) process as I did above for the other 29 teams and this is how I see the year unfolding…

NL East

1. Phillies 94-68
2. Marlins 88-74 (wild card)
3. Braves 85-77
4. Nats 82-80
5. Mets 71-91

NL Central

1. Reds 88-74
2. Brewers 86-76 (stupid wild card)
3. Cardinals 83-79
4. Pirates 75-87
5. Cubs 69-93
6. Astros 67-95

NL West

1. Diamondbacks 89-73
2. Giants 83-79
3. Rockies  80-82
4. Dodgers 78-84
5. Padres 74-88

AL East

1. Yankees 95-67
2. Red Sox 91-71 (wild card)
3. Rays 89-73
4. Blue Jays 77-85
5. Orioles 73-89

AL Central

1. Tigers 89-73
2. Indians 80-82
3. Royals 74-88
4. Twins 72-90
5. White Sox 70-92

AL West

1. Angels 94-68
2. Rangers 90-72 (stupid wild card)
3. Mariners 74-88
4. A’s 70-92

Playoffs

Stupid wild card games: TEX over BOS, MIL over MIA

Division Series: PHI over MIL, ARI over CIN, NYY over TEX, LAA over DET

Championship Series: ARI over PHI, LAA over NYY

World Series: LAA over ARI

There really isn’t an NL team I love, which is also good news for the Phillies. I picked the Diamondbacks because I liked their additions of Cahill and Kubel and think that Justin Upton could make the leap to MVP this year. But I could make arguments for plenty of teams. As for the Angels, I think the Pujols acquisition overshadowed the fact that they now have the 2nd best “big-3″ to us in the majors with Weaver, Haren and Wilson. I think they will get enough offense around Pujols and will have similar year to the Phillies last year, though with more luck in the playoffs.

So that’s how I see things playing out, both for the Phillies and the rest of the league.

What are your predictions for 2012?

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