The Phillies’ line-up is flawed. The Phillies’ line-up is injured. The Phillies’ line-up is old. But if there is anything that is young, healthy and nearly perfect about the Phillies’ line-up, it is the outfield. Featuring three men who are in the prime of their careers, few would be surprised if all three of the Phillies projected starters, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and John Mayberry Jr., were selected to represent the National League in this summer’s All-Star game. But with great power comes great responsibility and considering the challenges that the Phillies’ offense is likely to face, the outfielders are going to have to do most of the heavy lifting for this line-up.
The Phillies’ three outfielders come into the season in three very different situations. Shane Victorino as one of the elite center fielders coming off of an All-Star year with close to career high numbers, despite missing 30 games. Hunter Pence comes into his first full season as a Phillie looking to repeat his 2011 All-Star campaign in which he greatly improved his contact numbers while keeping his power numbers intact. John Mayberry Jr. also comes into 2012 on a high note, finally earning a starting job after showing incredible potential as the Phillies’ fourth outfielder last year. In addition, Mayberry is considered by many to be a potential All-Star.
However, the Phillies’ outfield is not just those three players. The club still hopes to get production at some point this year from highly touted prospect Domonic Brown. Though Brown has not been very successful thus far in his Major League career, many people still see loads of upside in the 24-year-old who was recently sent to AAA. Brown likely won’t be called up early in the season unless another outfielder succumbs to injury, but if any of the outfielders are tired, or struggling towards the end of the season, Brown could very easily find himself in a platoon role, proving to the world his worth.
Regardless of who is playing though, the Phillies’ outfield is going to need to step up and take control of the team’s offense. With Ryan Howard out for at least a month and Chase Utley likely to start the season on the bench due to injury, the outfield will have to be responsible for most of the team’s run support and power output. If just one of the Phillies’ outfielders is unable to pull their weight, it is almost inevitable that the Phillies offense will struggle. This team is far from the offensive powerhouse that it was in the mid 2000′s and at this point, they need all the help they can get.
In order to be successful: This will be the most important “In order to be successful” because simply, failure is not an option for this group. All three will need to be All-Stars, or at least close. Shane Victorino will need to keep his batting average around .280 again, still coming close to 20 home runs and like usual, be near the top of the MLB in triples to give the Phillies an extra spark. He will also need to work on stealing more bases, something that he did not do very well last year. Hunter Pence will need to keep up his high power numbers and high average, anchoring the Phillies’ offense. He will need to get over 25 home runs and keep his average around .310, something he was able to do last year. In addition, he will need continue to be the fan-favorite that he blossomed into last year, in order to keep fans happy and clubhouse morale high. As for John Mayberry Jr., he will need to be both consistent and powerful. In his first full year as a starter, he will need to play at least 135 games, averaging .280 and hitting around 20 or 25 home runs. However, the key for Mayberry will be consistency and not falling into slumps, otherwise, his confidence and subsequently his play, could suffer.