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The Phillies May Try a New Outfield Alignment Back at Full Strength

The Philadelphia Phillies will potentially use a new outfield alignment with players returning from injuries. This would result in a change in the starting lineup due to players’ recent performances. With Trea Turner set to return soon, the team is contemplating putting Edmundo Sosa in the outfield. This is in part due to the struggles of Johan Rojas this season. It is also because Sosa has been performing well while Turner has been out. It is anticipated that Turner will return from the injured list without doing a rehab assignment first. He is expected to be activated sometime this week. Weston Wilson will likely be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley as the corresponding move.

This season Sosa has a .294/.358/.532 line with four home runs and 18 RBI in 36 games. He also has a 152 OPS+ and a 151 wRC+ this season. Sosa also leads the NL with four triples, and he has a 1.9 bWAR and a 1.8 fWAR this season. Meanwhile, Rojas has a .237/.275/.302 line with two home runs and 19 RBI in 53 games. Currently, Rojas has a 66 OPS+ and a 65 wRC+ this season, along with a 0.1 bWAR and a 0.3 fWAR this season. Defensively Sosa has four Defensive Runs Saved while Rojas has -1 Defensive Runs Saved this season. Sosa’s DRS is tied for the second most on the Phillies while Rojas is tied for the fourth fewest.

The Phillies’ Potential New Outfield Alignment

Impact Of Other Injuries

With Brandon Marsh on the injured list, Sosa and Rojas may play in the outfield together temporarily. Moving Sosa to left field for the remaining time Marsh is on the injured list makes a lot of sense. This also allows for a more long-term decision to be made once Marsh returns. Sosa has made four appearances in the outfield in the majors. Two of those appearances came in left field, and the other two came in center field. During his major league career, he has not started a game in the outfield. It is also possible that Sosa and Rojas platoon with David Dahl while Marsh is still out.

Trade Rumors

There have been some rumors that the Phillies are looking to acquire an outfielder at the trade deadline. Recently, ESPN’s MLB insider Jeff Passan mentioned Kyle Tucker, Luis Robert Jr., and Randy Arozarena as potential candidates. Meanwhile, USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale mentioned Jake McCarthy as someone the Phillies might trade for. It remains to be seen if moving Sosa to the outfield would impact these plans. The infield need can best be filled by internal options. The Phillies’ trade deadline focus should be on acquiring a closer. It would be weird to see the Phillies give up on Rojas for the time being given how many chances he has been given.

Fielding Metrics Say Something Different

Because Turner played in the outfield with the Washington Nationals, there is fielding data related to his play there. Turner made 45 appearances in center field, including 44 starts during the 2016 season. Based on fielding metrics, it would in fact be better to play Turner in center field while Sosa plays shortstop. That combination sees a combined career total of 14 Defensive Runs Saved and 19 Outs Above Average. Meanwhile, Turner playing shortstop and Sosa playing center field sees a different result. That combination has a combined career total of -4 Defensive Runs Saved and 8 Outs Above Average. Sosa is a better defender at shortstop while Turner is better defensively in center field.

This is unlikely to happen right now though. Each of the outfield appearances Sosa has made has come since Turner last played in the outfield. With Turner unlikely to make a rehab assignment, it also makes it harder to have Turner return and play outfield immediately. This option also does not make sense if the Phillies are as serious about trading for an outfielder as reports have indicated. Moving Sosa to the outfield sets the stage for Rojas to be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley when Marsh returns. It is worth noting that both Cristian Pache and Dahl are out of minor league options. Once Turner comes back, the Phillies’ potential new outfield may start to take shape.


Photo Credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


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