The Phillies’ Optimal Lineup

Bryce Harper, centerpiece of The Phillies' Optimal Lineup

I would not be able to start this without stating the obvious: we will not see the Phillies’ optimal lineup until after the All-Star Break. That said, we can still look ahead to the future and see what that lineup will look like. When that day does arrive, opposing pitching staffs beware. The Phillies’ offense is stacked from top to bottom. There is not a spot in the lineup where a pitcher can afford to relax. From guys who can hit 40+ home runs, to guys that can get on base 38% of the time or more, the Phillies have it all. Today, we project the Phillies’ optimal lineup.

The Phillies’ Optimal Lineup

Leading Off

Why fix something that isn’t broken? The Philadelphia Phillies utilized Kyle Schwarber in the lead-off position for 123 games in 2022. He rewarded their efforts by hitting .219/.317/.506 from that spot in the lineup with 38 of his 46 home runs. Is that batting average a little low for you? On base percentage too low for a lead-off hitter? You’re in luck! The shift is a thing of the past starting this year, and Schwarber will be a huge beneficiary of it. Schwarber carries a career pull rate of 36.9% and had a pull rate of 37.2% in 2022. Add that to his career ground ball rate of 39.4% and you get someone chomping at the bit to hit without the shift.

Schwarber was also subject to some bad BABIP luck in 2022. With a BABIP of only .240, it was no wonder why his triple slash was as low as it was. Now that he will not have to worry about the shift, you can expect Schwarber to hit closer to .260, plus his plethora of lead-off home runs to jump-start the offense, and begin the Phillies’ optimal lineup.

Batting Second

The Phillies got their man when they signed Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million contract. After spending the last 212 games of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Turner is back in the NL East to wreak havoc on the basepaths. Not only is Turner one of the fastest players in baseball, but he is also one of the game’s best hitters. Coming into 2023 with a career line of .302/.355/.487, Turner is a guy that deserves a lion’s share of plate appearances. However, he doesn’t get on base as well as Kyle Schwarber does. Having Turner bat second behind Kyle Schwarber gives the Phillies the opportunity to have a runner in scoring position for arguably the best hitter in baseball, and lays the proper foundation for the Phillies’ optimal lineup.

Was There Anyone Else?

It’s Bryce Harper batting third. There isn’t much more to say than that. But, as I stated above, he won’t be back until after the All-Star Break at the earliest as he is recovering from surgery. He was in need of surgery for the majority of last season, but that did not stop him from hitting .286/.364/.514 with 18 home runs in 99 games. Add another six home runs in 17 postseason games to his total and you have the makings of yet another MVP contending season, were it complete. Harper surely won’t be in contention for an MVP award in 2023, but once he does come back, you can expect him to play at that MVP level of his, and be the centerpiece of the Phillies’ optimal lineup.


This brings us to the harder portions of the lineup to project. Do we go with Nick Castellanos here and hope that he turns it around this season? Do we put the streakiest hitter in all of baseball, Rhys Hoskins, here and keep our fingers crossed for his third career 30+ home run season? Or, do we put the Best Catcher In Baseball here and hope that he builds upon his career-high OPS+ of 129 that he set in 2022? The answer may surprise you.

The Phillies’ optimal lineup would have Nick Castellanos batting cleanup. Yes, Castellanos had a career-worst OPS+ of 95 in 2022. Yes, Castellanos only hit 13 home runs in 2022. But you can expect Castellanos to turn all of that around this season and get back to the levels of production we expected of him when he signed. When on, Castellanos is one of the premier gap-to-gap hitters in the game. 2022 was only the second full season in his career in which he went a full season without one triple. He also carries a career 162-game average of 40 doubles, as well as a career 162-game average of 24 home runs. In 2022, Castellanos should have been batting seventh. In 2023, Castellanos will be a premier cleanup hitter.

Batting Fifth In The Phillies’ Optimal Lineup

This gentleman was mentioned above, and it may be exactly who you are expecting. Batting fifth should be none other than the BCIB, J.T. Realmuto. Coming off of 2022 that saw him hit .276/.342/.478 with 22 home runs, Realmuto reminded the world once again why he is the Best Catcher In Baseball. He also led all of baseball in caught-stealing percentage (44%) for the second time in his career, but I digress.

J.T. Realmuto rarely goes into slumps at the plate. His power comes and goes throughout the season, but he generally puts the ball in play at a steady clip, and batting him fifth every day would give him ample opportunity to flex his muscles and surpass his career high of 84 RBI, which he set last season.

Batting Sixth

Really, at this point in the lineup, you could go with any amalgamation and be perfectly fine, as long as the ninth batter remains the same. But for the Phillies’ optimal lineup, batting sixth would be Bryson Stott. Stott had a slow start to his rookie season in 2022, and if you look at his 2022 stats as a whole, it is reflected. In 2022, Stott hit .234/.295/.358 with 10 home runs and an 84 OPS+. However, when you break it down between the first half and the second half of the season, you get a tale of two Stott’s. In the first half, Stott struggled to a line of .188/.255/.307 with six home runs and an OPS+ of 72. In the second half, he rebounded to hit .276/.331/.404 with four home runs and a 125 OPS+. You can expect that second-half emergence to carry over into 2023 for Stott, and a solid sophomore season to come.

Batting Seventh In The Phillies’ Optimal Lineup

This brings us to our next contestant, Alec Bohm. So far, we have experienced three seasons of Alec Bohm in the Majors. In those three seasons, we experienced three completely different levels of production. Through 44 games in 2020, Bohm hit .338/.400/.481 with four home runs and a 137 OPS+. The sophomore slump was real for Bohm, as through 115 games in 2021 he hit .247/.305/.342 with seven home runs and a 75 OPS+. This past season, he hit .280/.315/.398 with 13 home runs and a 100 OPS+ across 152 games. With the bigger sample size of 2022, expect more of the same from Alec Bohm in 2023.

Batting Eighth

We now reach the penultimate hitter in the Phillies’ optimal lineup. Some of you may have expected this hitter to be higher in the order, even batting fourth maybe. But when your offense is as stacked as the Phillies is, having a second cleanup hitter never hurts. Rhys Hoskins has been a part of the Phillies’ Major League roster since 2017 when he took the world by storm. Through 50 games in 2017, he hit .259/.396/.618 with 18 home runs and a 162 OPS+. Clearly, that wasn’t a sustainable level of production for Rhys, however, his lowest single-season OPS+ is 111, which means that even in his worst season, he was still 11% better than league average.

The craziest thing about Rhys Hoskins is his streakiness. He can go three weeks without hitting a home run, and then follow that stretch up with five games and eight home runs. It can be a joy to watch at times, and a headache to suffer through at others. Hitting Rhys eighth is not a knock on his abilities in the slightest, but more so a testament to just how good the Phillies’ optimal lineup projects to be.

Batting Ninth

Last but most certainly not least, we have Brandon Marsh. Marsh made his Major League debut in 2021 for the Los Angeles Angels and had many a struggle on the west coast. The Angels traded him to the Phillies at last season’s deadline and boy did it turn Brandon Marsh’s career around. Across 163 games for the Angels, Marsh carried a line of .239/.299/.354 with an 82 OPS+. Through his first 41 games as a Philly, he hit .288/.319/.455 with a 116 OPS+. Assuming that Brandon Marsh can continue with the successes he had at the plate with the Phillies after the deadline, Marsh is the perfect candidate for the ninth spot, a second lead-off hitter if you will, in the Phillies’ optimal lineup.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players mentioned:

Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh