The Philadelphia Phillies are determined to contend as soon as possible. After handing out a massive contract to Bryce Harper and trading for J.T. Realmuto in 2019, the Phillies went back to the well and signed Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius for 2020.
These moves leave the Phillies with an enticing roster and optimism for 2020, despite coming off a bitterly disappointing 81-81 year. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Phillies sit at +310 to win the NL East, behind the Atlanta Braves (+200), Washington Nationals (+250), and New York Mets (+280).
Still, those odds are close, and the Phillies have a clear path to contention in 2020. Here are three stats that show the Phillies are a good bet to win the NL East.
1. Zack Wheeler Should Improve Team ERA
The Phillies spent $118 million to pry Zack Wheeler away from the Mets this offseason. On top of weakening a division rival, Wheeler is a great addition to a rotation that finished 17th in ERA last year. Aaron Nola and Wheeler should offer the Phillies an elite 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. Wheeler's 3.48 FIP and 17.5 K-BB% show that he should be getting much better results than his 3.96 ERA suggests. He continuously tops the velocity leaderboards and has shown no signs of the injury concerns that he battled early in his career. By signing Wheeler, the Phillies have put themselves in a good spot for 2020 and beyond in their starting rotation.
2. Bryce Harper's wOBA
Bryce Harper did not have a bad year in 2019. Harper hit .270/.370/.510 with 35 homers, which is a career year for most players. However, it was still not what fans were expecting for their $330 million signing. Luckily for Phillies fans, Harper's underlying numbers suggest that he will be an elite hitter in 2020. Harper's Statcast contact profile had him in the 89th percentile for exit velocity and 86th percentile for hard hit percentage. His expected wOBA based on his contact profile was .387, almost exactly the same as the .388 he posted in 2018. Since his actual wOBA was only .366, one can expect a significant improvement in 2020. The Phillies will need it if they have any chance of winning the division.
3. J.T. Realmuto's Improved Slash Line
When the Phillies traded for J.T. Realmuto, they were expecting to have one of the best all-around catchers in baseball. Last year, he delivered, even if much of his value came on the defensive side of the ball. Realmuto ranked fourth on Baseball Prospectus' Catcher Defense ratings thanks to adjustments in pitch framing and a huge improvement in throwing out runners (38% to 47%). Realmuto's contributions at the plate (.275/.328/.493 with 25 home runs) made him the most valuable catcher in baseball. The Phillies will need him to maintain his defensive and offensive numbers to stand any chance at winning the NL East.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. 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.