Philadelphia is not an easy place to play for opposing players. The home fans are said to have booed Santa, heckle constantly, and have even had “Battery Nights” where they have launched D-volt batteries from the stands at opposing players. The Phillies were supposed to be a dynasty for years, but that has not happened. Here is a look at Phillies who need to have big seasons to avoid a “battery night” in their honor.
After an outstanding 2010 minor league season, Domonic Brown ranked as the fourth best prospect in the game. But Brown has failed to live up to the hype so far in his career. Injuries have been the main issue with Brown as he constantly is hampered by them. Last season, he played in a career high 139 games, more than doubling his previous high. He appeared in his first all-star game and was able to launch 27 homeruns. If the Phillies offense is going to get going again this season, they need Brown healthy and performing at his best.
At one time, Ryan Howard was one of the elite sluggers in the game. He won the Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, and twice led the league in homeruns. In 2010, Howard signed a gigantic contract extension that keeps him in Philadelphia through at least 2016. After a crippling injury in the 2011 NLDS, Howard has never been the same. Once a player that finished a season playing 162 games, Howard has only been able to play in 150 over the past two years. This spring Howard has powered three homeruns while batting .246. With at least three more years under contract, Howard needs to remain healthy and get back to being a force in the middle of the Phillies lineup.
Last season Phillies closer, Jonathan Papelbon, was outspoken about his unhappiness in Philadelphia. He was quoted by Jon Heyman saying, “I didn’t come here for this.” While his numbers were not terrible last season, his 13 million dollar contract and seven blown saves are not something that the Phillies can afford. To help the Phillies return to contenders Papelbon needs to once again be an elite closer.
When A.J. Burnett signed his last contract, he struggled mightily. In three seasons with the Yankees, Burnett posted a 4.79 ERA. He pitched so poorly that he was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He rebounded in Pittsburgh, eventually becoming the ace of the staff and starting on opening day. Burnett is set to make 16 million this season with the Phillies and he needs to be every bit the pitcher he was in Pittsburgh.
Entering his 15th professional season, Jimmy Rollins has been the face of the Phillies for a long time. He is a former MVP, four time Gold Glove infielder, and a multiple all-star. He is 35 entering this season and not nearly the same player that he was in his prime. Rollins has struggled this spring batting just .174 in his first 17 games. He was also benched for an apparent lack of hustle. While he cannot be expected to produce at the same level, the Phillies need leadership from Rollins to help mentor the next young group of budding stars.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference