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Tentatively, the Philadelphia Phillies are scheduled to open their 2021 season on April 1, when they will welcome the three-time defending National League East Champion Atlanta Braves to Citizens Bank Park. Schedule, rule and personnel changes could alter what Joe Girardi’s lineup will look like to open the season, but here’s out first projection.
No. 1: Andrew McCutchen, Left Field
The primary concerns surrounding McCutchen are whether he’s still capable of playing in the outfield at this stage of his career. But while the 34-year-old did still homer 10 times and drive in 34 runs in 2020, his on-base percentage dipped by over 50 points year over year. In large part, that was because McCutchen walked 43 times in 59 games in 2019, but only 22 times in 57 games this past season. If he’s going to be the team’s primary leadoff hitter in 2021, McCutchen will need to improve on the .324 on-base percentage he had in 2020.
No. 2: Rhys Hoskins, First Base
Following a disappointing 2019 season, Hoskins bounced back in a big way in 2020, slashing .245/.384/.503 with 10 home runs, 26 RBIs and 29 walks in 41 games. Unfortunately, his season was ended prematurely by a left UCL injury, one which led to him having surgery in early October. Initially, the surgery came with a four-to-six month recovery timeline, but both he and Girardi suggested he could be ready for opening day in January. Hoskins hit second in the lineup in all 41 games he played in last season, so if he’s ready to play when the season opens, it’s a pretty safe bet to think that he’ll be hitting No. 2.
No. 3: Bryce Harper, Right Field
Harper played at least half of the 2020 season with a back injury that clearly hampered him, but still managed to hit .268 with 13 home runs, 33 RBIs and 49 walks in 58 games. At 28, he should be at the height of his offensive powers, meaning 2021 could prove to be the best of 13 seasons in Philly.
No. 4: J.T. Realmuto, Catcher
From here, Realmuto probably makes more sense as the No. 5 hitter, but he hit cleanup in 43 of the 47 games that he played in 2020. He may ultimately be moved elsewhere in the lineup, but typically, you don’t move someone down in the lineup right after signing them to a five-year/$115.5 million contract.