Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Bohm, Realmuto hit homers, Phillies beat Mets 8-2
Phillies bash three homers in beating Mets and making it five wins in first six games
PHILADELPHIA » For all of his baseball gifts, and he will land as the best player the Phillies have ever employed, Bryce Harper has only hit 30-plus home runs three times in his 10th-year career.
For all of his value, $115.5 million and worth every installment, J.T. Realmuto is in his eighth major-league season and has never been better than a 25-homer hitter.
Alec Bohm, who should have been the Rookie of the Year last season, has five career home runs.
Rhys Hoskins, who literally began his career on a world-record home run pace, has become most comfortable as an up-inthe-order on-base threat with above-average clout.
Andrew McCutchen, badgered by injury and 34 years old, hasn’t hit more than 20 home runs in a season since 2017.
Didi Gregorius has some power, but has 121 home runs in his MLB life.
As the Phillies reported for an afternoon game Wednesday against the Mets, they had hit two home runs in five games, tied for second least in baseball. One was by the backup catcher, the other by the shortstop.
They had to do better. And so they did, collecting home runs from Realmuto, Hoskins and Bohm in an 8-2 victory over the Mets, completing a 5-1 homestand and showing what they could be when they include the long ball into the mix.
They built Citizens Bank Park the way they did, which is to say it is the size of a postcard, for a reason: To invite home runs. But that Liberty Bell home run display almost needed to be oiled before it crumbled under the rust.
Joe Girardi has managed in the House that Ruth Built, so he knows of the value of a home run. He also knows it’s April, and that the winds have been cruel, and that even with that early lack of home runs his team had won four of its first five.
“All teams like three-run homers,” Girardi said. “But I would tell you that the biggest thing is putting traffic on base.
And if you put runners on, you are usually going to score runs.
“To me, that’s the focus of grinding out at-bats. If you start looking for home runs, you’re going to make outs, and you’re going to make quick outs and you’re going to swing and miss a lot.
“So ‘on base’ is important for me.”
It’s small ball without the bunts, and it has been working. That’s why Girardi had mentioned that the Phillies had scored three, four, two, five and four runs in their first five games, including a few the other night that were too late to matter in a loss to the Mets.
“I don’t have a problem with the quality of the at-bats,” he said. “That has been pretty good. I don’t see us chasing a whole bunch, but you know, it’s early in the year. All offenses go through this.”
The Phillies hit 82 home runs in the 60game 2020 sprint. The Dodgers, who won the whole thing, hit 118. But that was a different season, with teams playing only geographically convenient opponents. The hybrid NL-AL East did have deeper pitching than other cockamamie setups. So comparative 2020 statistics are mostly useless.
The Phillies, though, are quick to tout their lineup, convinced it can generate power from top to bottom. Yet in the last full-service season of 2019, with Harper, with Realmuto, with Hoskins, the Phillies hit just 215 home runs, 22nd most in baseball, 11th in the no-DH National League.
That can’t work long term in any ballpark. It’s a lost opportunity for a team blessed to play 81 times in the Mini-dome. And it helps explain why the Phillies often look to have a strong lineup yet have been unable to beat that system for an entire six months.
The Phillies had five home runs in their productive six-game homestand, winning games started by, among others,
Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Jacob deGrom. Nor would it have been easy for any team to go deep, with most of the first five games played with the wind snuffing anything driven to left or center.
“I think you’ll see more,” Girardi said. “I think Harp would have had at least one had the wind not been howling in from left. I think J.T. might have had another one. It’s just a lot of times you go through that in April with the way the weather is.
It can be cold and the wind can be blowing in a lot in a lot of ballparks. That’s why getting on base is so important.”
It’s a reasonable plan. But the last time the Phillies were world champions, Ryan Howard hit 48 homers and Chase Utley and Pat Burrell evenly divided another 66.
Five games provides an insignificant sample space.
Six do, too.
But the Phillies have the payroll and the players to compete in any home run derby. And there have been enough years and enough nights in that ballpark, windy and otherwise, to realize they will not be what they should be unless they do.