Philadelphia Phillies fans likely felt hugely let down by the team's 2019 results. They added Bryce Harper to a squad that went 80-82 in 2018, but they only improved to 81-81, still missing the postseason.
These three stats prove that Philadelphia can be a legitimate World Series contender in 2020.
1. Bryce Harper's Batted-Ball Profile
When you sign Bryce Harper, you hope he's going to give you more than a .365 weighted on-base average (wOBA). That's all he managed for the Phillies in 2019, which was a significant step down from his marks of .416 and .376 in the previous two seasons. Harper was actually hitting the ball incredibly well, though, with a career-low soft-hit rate (10.5 percent) and career-high hard-hit rate (48.1 percent). His career averages include a 13.9 percent soft-hit rate and 37.3 percent hard-hit rate, so there was a lot to like about the contact he was making. We've seen Harper slump before, with a .338 wOBA in 2014 and a .343 in 2016, and both times he bounced back with a mark north of .400 in the following season.
2. Zack Wheeler Helps Erase a Weakness
The Phillies' starting pitcher group checked in at just 17th in ERA and 23rd in wins above replacement (WAR) in 2019. Whatever you think of the contract that Zack Wheeler received, he should certainly go a long way to clearing up that weakness. The 29-year-old arm is coming off back-to-back seasons with a WAR over 4.0, peaking at 4.7 last season (tied for 14th among qualifying pitchers). He's turned in an ERA south of 4.00 in each of those last two seasons as well, and 2019 saw him drop his walk rate to a career-low 6.0 percent, while his 23.6 percent strikeout rate remained above his career average. Wheeler and Aaron Nola (3.4 WAR, 3.87 ERA) make for a terrific one-two punch in the rotation.
3. Elite Fielding
The Phillies' pitching staff also gets to benefit in a big way from what they've got behind them in the field. Philadelphia led the majors in defensive runs above average (DEF). For context as to how dominant that was, the average DEF of the rest of the top 5 was 61.8 — that's an edge of more than 15 percent better than that group.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.