As the 2015 regular season came to and end this past weekend, the staffers at TBOH were polled for their opinions on the Philadelphia Phillies top performers in the categories of Starting Pitcher, Relief Pitcher, Offensive Player, Surprise Player, and Rookie of the Year.
Our staffers were also asked for their favorite moment from this past 2015 season. In what was a difficult year for the team and it’s fans, there were still a few great moments to look back on, and those great moments will come in a separate piece tomorrow.
For today, we’ll go through the categories listed above, and find out what the results were in polling of our current half-dozen staffers: myself, Ethan Witte, Tyler DiSalle, David Mosemann, Ryan Gerstel, and Alexis Girardo.
Not all of the categories were unanimous, but there was a clear result in each. The following were our honorees for the 2015 season:
Just because it was rumored for months, the reality of Cole Hamels being traded away to the Texas Rangers still came as a shocker to many Phillies fans. At 31 years of age, Hamels was still in the prime of his career.
He had been the club’s 1st round pick in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft, had won 114 games over a decade with the team, and was both the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP for the 2nd championship team in Phils’ history.
Hamels was the unanimous choice of the half-dozen TBOH staffers as the Phillies 2015 Starting Pitcher of the Year.
He pitched at the front of the team’s rotation for nearly four full months, from Opening Day right up to the MLB trade deadline.
On that deadline, Hamels was dealt to the Rangers along with reliever Jake Diekman for pitcher Matt Harrison and five prospects, at least three of which are highly rated.
In the end, Hamels was an easy choice, because the rest of this year’s Phillies rotation was made up of marginally talented journeymen like Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams, or rookies who didn’t pitch more than a couple of months, such as Aaron Nola and Adam Morgan.
Hamels made 20 starts for the Phillies in 2015, forging a 6-7 record for a team that was 27 games below the .500 mark following his final victory.
That last win in a Phils uniform was a memorable one, with Hamels throwing a no-hitter at Wrigley Field vs the Cubs.
The veteran lefty had a 3.64 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, and a 3.27 FIP. He allowed 113 hits in 128.2 innings, with a 137/39 K:BB ratio.
The Phillies were finally able to unload controversial closer Jonathan Papelbon just before the 2015 MLB trade deadline, shipping him off to the Washington Nationals on July 28th for minor league pitcher Nick Pivetta.
Papelbon was pitching well, with 17 Saves, a 1.59 ERA, and status as the lone Phils’ NL All-Star rep.
But Papelbon had burned his bridges with the team’s fans a year earlier, and despite becoming the franchise’ all-time Saves leader earlier in the 2015 campaign, most couldn’t wait for him to be gone.
Once he was gone, another moment that fans were looking forward to finally came to pass when fireballing righty Ken Giles ascended to the closer role.
“100-Miles” Giles had been the primary setup man almost from the moment of his call-up to the big leagues in mid-June of 2014.
Giles was the unanimous choice of our TBOH staffers as the Phillies 2015 Relief Pitcher of the Year.
The right-hander recorded his first Save of the season on the same day that Papelbon was dealt away, and would finish with 15 Saves over the final two months.
Giles had an outstanding 1.71 ERA, allowed 20 hits in 26.1 innings, and had a 33/5 K:BB ratio in that time frame as closer.
Overall on the 2015 season, Giles had a 6-3 record and those 15 Saves over 69 games.
He had a 1.80 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, and 2.13 FIP. He allowed 59 hits in 70 total innings, with an overall 87/25 K:BB ratio.
The 25-year old Giles is now the subject of growing speculation as a possible off-season trade chip for the Phillies.
The logic there is that the Phils are likely to still be in building mode as Giles moves towards his prime, and because of his age and talent, he could bring back at least one, and possibly two, high-valued prospects to help advance the rebuilding process.
On December 11th, 2014 the Phillies selected outfielder Odubel Herrera from the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.
Herrera had won the Venezuelan Winter League batting crown with a .372 average, that following a season in the Rangers’ minors system in which he hit for a .315 combined average across stops at two levels.
The Phillies would have to either keep Herrera on the big league roster all season, or offer him back to Texas, or work out some deal to keep him.
Herrera made the decision easy, almost from the beginning of his time with the club in spring training.
For his offensive performance, Herrera won the balloting as the Phillies 2015 Offensive Player of the Year, receiving the 1st place vote from 5 of our 6 staffers.
He also took home the 2015 Rookie of the Year honors as well, receiving 4 of the 6 votes, with the other two 1st place ballots going to rookie pitcher Aaron Nola.
The man affectionately known as “El Torito” (little bull) had never played the outfield on a regular basis, but the team put him out their in the spring and let him learn on the job.
As the season wore on, Herrera cemented himself as the Phillies’ starting everyday center fielder.
While his routes and timing were sometimes off, his speed and hustle also allowed him to play the position well.
That combination of athleticism and inexperience came together in perhaps his defensive season highlight, making the final catch to seal Cole Hamels’ no-hitter vs the Cubs.
Offensively, Herrera led the club regulars in batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.344), runs scored (64), and with 30 doubles. His 16 steals were 2nd on the team.
Just yesterday, it was announced that Herrera was nominated by the Phillies for the MLB Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the top offensive player in each league.
While he has no chance to actually win that honor, just the fact that he was nominated as the Phils’ top offensive player is a tremendous accomplishment for a player who was left unprotected by his former team less than a calendar year ago.
On November 13th, 2014 the Phillies unexpectedly signed then 30-year old outfielder Jeff Francoeur as a free agent.
Expectations were low, with the hope that he could perhaps come to spring training, be a “solid citizen” positive influence, and maybe become a valuable AAA outfielder that could help the club at some point in the season.
Francoeur won a split-decision ballot as our TBOH Phillies Surprise Performer of the Year, edging out Herrera and pitcher Jerad Eickhoff in the balloting by receiving 1st place votes from half of our six staffers.
Anyone who watched “Frenchy” all year knows just how much of a positive influence he was, supplying a handful of the most memorable and exciting moments of the season, from walk-off homers to tremendous throws from the outfield.
None of those was more memorable than his laser beam to nail a Pittsburgh Pirates runner at the plate, clinching Papelbon’s franchise record Save.
At the plate, Francoeur received 343 plate appearances, his most in the big leagues since the 2012 season.
Despite the fact that he was usually a part-timer, he still finished 3rd on the team with 13 homers, and 4th with 45 RBI.
His 5 outfield Assists were tied with Herrera, who played in approximately 400 more innings, for the team lead.