As the weeks continue on, we here at Fantasyknuckleheads.com will be taking a closer look at each individual team’s fantasy outlook, along with player rankings, draft strategies, MLB Rumors and what you can expect from the 2011 season.
We've already taken a sneak peak at the Boston Red Sox thanks to our own Eric Annett, so now let’s take a look at what the Philadelphia Phillies will bring to the table, and what they have to offer in the 2011 fantasy baseball season and 2011 fantasy baseball draft.
UPDATE 3/9/2011: Chase Utley has been listed as 'indefinitely" out, according to Todd Zolecki on MLB.com with "mild patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia".
The Phillies have offered no time table for recovery, and have suggested that surgery could be an option, but it will be days before we know.
For fantasy owners, a decision must be made now as to who you will be replacing Utley with, and you can check here, for some great options.
Ryan Howard, First Base:
- Ryan Howard finished the 2010 season with a .276/.353/.505 batting line alongside 31 homeruns and 108 RBI—much lower than what many expected—but keep in mind Howard had 66 fewer at bats than his stellar 2009 season and dealt with a persistent ankle injury that directly affected his power. A lot of managers will be apprehensive about taking Howard early, which could turn out to be a great tool for you to use to your advantage come time draft day.
- Due to the vaunted pitching staff the Phillies have built, the need for overwhelming power may not be all that emphasized, where as small ball will be. You gotta remember that Ryan Howard is just as good of a natural hitter as he is a power hitter, and in most leagues, accumulated hits can be just as valuable than just home runs. With Ryan Howard capable of being a dual threat, you get the best of both worlds.
- You can still expect Ryan Howard to be a Top 25 player (Top 10 among the hot corner elites) but don’t expect another down year. Ryan Howard is sure to push 40 homeruns and 130 RBI this year while keeping his strikeouts at a respectable level making him a fine first round choice.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ Four Horsemen:
- You can’t just name one of the four devastating arms the Phillies have coming into the 2011 fantasy baseball season; it’s pointless. Whether you have your eye on Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt you’re bound to at least grab one of these guys. All four pitchers are All-Star caliber pitchers who can offer owners a lot of strikes, and a lot of wins—two things you definitely want in a pitcher.
- Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are the only two out of the bunch that played for Philadelphia for an entire season. Halladay is obviously the total package finishing with a 21-10 record alongside a 2.44 ERA. But he’s not a huge strike thrower historically (6.9 K/9 career). Cole Hamels finished a respectable 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA, but was the victim of many instances throughout the 2010 season of having no run support. Hamels is, however, a great source for strikes (8.5 K/9 rate career) but is prone to the longball.
- Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee are more of a curious duo than anything. Both pitchers are known for their penchant for throwing a ton of strikes, but what most people may not know is both of these guys don’t give up too many homeruns, and they aren’t known to walk many batters either—very valuable in fantasy baseball. No matter who you choose, you can expect any one of these pitchers to have at least 14 wins this year with an ERA below 3.00 with plenty of strikes to enjoy. Perhaps some of you might get tricky and go pitcher early and mid to grab two of these guys, but fantasy baseball draft strategy is another topic.
Sleeping Giants? Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco
- Many of you thought perhaps I was going to mention Domonic Brown but the fact is, Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco have the best shot at becoming true sleepers for Philadelphia this year and here’s why:
- Raul Ibanez is in his contract year, and everyone knows what happens to players in their contract year. In addition to that, Ibanez had a horrible 2010 season—especially in fantasy baseball—and will have to literally do a 180 for other teams to consider offering him a job, or for the Phillies to find a reason to keep the old man around. Ibanez is a player capable of 20-25 homeruns and 90-95 RBI in any given year so don’t be too surprised if he gets close to those numbers.
- Ben Francisco is in a similar situation in that he’ll more than likely get the majority of playing time over Domonic Brown, but will really have to step things up to keep that job. Not known to have a lot of fantasy baseball value, Francisco is the type of player you put at the top of your watch list, and pluck off of waivers if he gets hot. But keep in mind he could have a much better season than many project just to retain his job.
The Philadelphia Phillies will be a force to reckon with in 2011, and have a bevy of players that are either draft worthy in the early rounds (Chase Utley, Shane Victorino to name a few more) or worthy of keeping a very close eye on. Such is the case with John Mayberry and Domonic Brown.
Now, both players will have to really put on a showing in ST to really cement a quality notice from fantasy baseball managers, but remember that a well built watch list is just as powerful as a well built team. Both Domonic Brown and John Mayberry have been looming in the background for a while now and both players offer a great mixture of hit ability, power and speed, so you would be wise to keep you eyes on both of these players in the coming months.
It’s still early in the year, but if you have a specific question about the Philadelphia Phillies, feel free to leave it below and I’ll get back at ya!