The Philadelphia Phillies outfield could definitely improve after last season, and health will be a big factor in that. Domonic Brown will continue to start in left field after finally having his breakout season last year, missing only 23 games. Marlon Byrd mans right field after returning to Philadelphia this offseason, but he’s 36 and may not match his career year from last year. Then there is Ben Revere in center field, who missed the second half of the season with a broken foot after overcoming a slow start. What follows is a look at each position’s starters and backups
Brown has the left field position locked down after an All-Star season where he was the Phillies’ best power hitter.
There are still a few questions surrounding Brown. The first is whether or not he can once again spend the majority of the season healthy, as it has been a struggle for Brown so far in his major league career. Health is only half of it of course, as Brown will also have to show that he can consistently hit big league pitching. His injury troubles have been one of the reasons that he hasn’t been able to show that he can do this.
His defense could use some work as well, because while Brown has the speed and arm of a good outfielder, he doesn’t always take a good route to the ball.
Byrd will be the starter in right field, but due to his age it’s possible that he won’t play as often as the other outfielders. Byrd does not have to match last year’s career year in order for the Phillies to have an improvement in right field. If Byrd simply matches his career averages, then he will have performed better than the 2013 Phillies’ right fielders in Delmon Young and John Mayberry Jr.
Mayberry and Darin Ruf would be most likely to start in Byrd’s place, and Ruf may have the edge as the front office will want to give more opportunities. Ruf has started in right field in the past, and as long as Ryan Howard remains healthy he will not have the chance to start at his natural position of first base. Even if Ruf plays well in limited opportunities, the most that could happen is that right field will become a platoon between Byrd and Ruf, if Byrd performs poorly.
Last season Ben Revere was brought in to become the Phillies’ starting center fielder of the future, but his first season in Philadelphia was cut short by a broken foot last July. Before going down with the injury Revere was hitting .305 and had 22 stolen bases, which is what the team needs him to do. Revere’s lack of power (no home runs in the majors) can be looked over as long as he continues to get on base and create havoc on the base paths.
Defensively, Revere can cover a lot of ground with his speed and makes some athletic plays, but he lacks the arm strength to make outfield assists. The Phillies were spoiled by Shane Victorino before, who could hit for power and had one of the strongest arms on the team, but Revere can still be a key piece to the team using his skills. He started the 2013 season as the team’s leadoff hitter and if he can hit around .300 as he did last season, Revere should remain the leadoff hitter and will be a big asset to the offense. Look for Revere to have a good season at the top of the lineup.
César Hernández could become the main backup in center field as he played there after Revere went down last season. If he fails to make to roster then Mayberry will backup Revere in center field as he is one of the few outfielders with experience playing in center.
Health is key for the Phillies 2014 outfield, and Dom Brown and Revere remaining healthy along with the addition of Byrd should give the Phillies offense a needed boost.