The Philadelphia Phillies entered the 2022 MLB season with a record payroll of more than $230 million and dreams of a World Series title. Through 51 games it has become increasingly clear this team is miles from contention. There's a lot of season left, but unless some major, near-miraculous changes happen, the Phillies will end 2022 as an enormous failure.
After a win on Wednesday, Philadelphia is now 22-29 on the year. The Phillies are already 12.5 games behind the New York Mets for first place in the National League East and sit six games out of the final National League Wild Card spot. How does a team with multiple All-Stars, the reigning NL MVP in Bryce Harper and a host of high-priced stars fail this badly? Poor roster construction shoulders a lot of the blame, while underperformance has also made a cameo.
The Phillies should have a top five offensive unit given the talent and contracts on their roster. They currently sit 12th in MLB in OPS (.713), are ninth in runs (230), ninth in home runs (58), 17th in on-base percentage (.310) and 12th in batting average. They have also struck out 457 times, fifth-most in the league. While the offense is scoring runs, some of its big names are not living up to their billing.
Kyle Schwarber parlayed a big 2021 season into a four-year, $79 million deal with Philadelphia this offseason. He has yet to live up to that contract. Schwarber is currently hitting .192. He does have 12 home runs, which has helped him post a slugging percentage of .429 and keep his OPS out of the gutter. But he has struck out 66 times, which is third-most in baseball.
Schwarber isn't the only bat underperforming so far this season. Rhys Hoskins (.704), Alec Bohm (.664) and J.T. Realmuto (.695) all possess an OPS under .705. Even Nick Castellanos (.742) has been a disappointment given his five-year, $100 million contract.
Bohm currently boasts an fWAR of 0.0. Yes, that's right, his production is the same as John Blutarsky's grade point average. Schwarber (0.5), Castellanos (0.2) and Hoskins (0.2) aren't faring much better. That's pretty bad news considering those three are making a combined $46.7 million this season. But while the offense has been a disappointment, it has actually been the bright spot compared to the rest of the equation.
On the mound, the Phillies haven't covered themselves in glory. They currently rank 18th in ERA (4.05), 21st in WHIP (1.30), 20th in batting average against (.246) and that comes despite 20 quality starts, which ranks sixth leaguewide. The real issue here isn't the starting rotation led by Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson. No, the team's bullpen is a mess.
Phillies relievers rank 21st in ERA (4.15), 28th in WHIP (1.44), 24th in batting average against (.246), have surrendered the third-most walks of any bullpen (93), and have blown five save opportunities. It's a revolving door of terrible. But even the bullpen isn't the worst part of the team. No, the defense takes home that award.
The Phillies boast what is undoubtedly the worst defense in baseball. So far this season they have posted a league-worst -26 defensive runs saved. The team's right fielders alone are at -11, and in total the outfield is at -15. That's just horrific. Philadelphia finished last in DRS last season and only got worse this offseason, as the team's two big offensive additions -- Schwarber and Castellanos -- truly both belong as designated hitters.
So is there any hope for the Phillies? Sure. As stated, it's a long season. But I don't suspect Castellanos, Schwarber or Bohm will suddenly learn how to field, or that Hoskins is miraculously going to turn things around. Manager Joe Girardi is currently on the hot seat, but I don't know what more he could have done with this group so far.
General manager Dave Dombrowski will undoubtedly try to make make some big move to improve the roster. But could he really improve the bullpen, the lineup and the team's fielding and make Philadelphia a contender? I'm not sure how he'd do it, considering he will be dealing from a shallow farm system that ranks 26th in baseball.
As of now it looks like the Phillies overspent on the wrong guys and are suffering through a ton of underperformance across the roster. They're headed for a rough season and it's hard to see any hope on the horizon.