The 2008 Phillies will forever have a place in the heart of every Phillies fan, for one obvious reason: they won it all. A big reason they were able to win the World Series is the strength of their offense. Led by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, the 2008 Phillies led the National League with 214 home runs, and finished second in the NL with a .438 team slugging percentage.
But the Phillies' offseason shopping spree netted them three starting position players who all made the All-Star Game last season, the first time that has happened in MLB history. It also gave them perhaps the most dangerous lineup in the game today.
With Bryce Harper now in the fold, I raise the question: how does the 2019 starting 8 stack up offensively with that of the 2008 World Series champs? Let's take it position-by-position.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz vs. J.T. Realmuto
Make no mistake: we all love Chooch. But as much as we value him and his place in the Phillies' golden run, he was not strong offensively, especially in 2008, when he hit just .219 in 117 games. Ruiz managed four homers and 31 RBI on the season, numbers I expect Realmuto to eclipse by about May 15. Verdict: 2019
First Base: Ryan Howard vs. Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins has a lot of potential, especially with the protection that will be around him in this lineup, but Ryan Howard in his prime was a force of nature. Fourty-eight homers, 146 RBI. Just an absolute monster out of the cleanup spot. Verdict: 2008
Second Base: Chase Utley vs. Cesar Hernandez
This one is also not close. Utley hit 33 homers and had his fourth straight 100-RBI season in 2008. Hernandez is a good player, and a nice on-base guy at the top of the lineup, but you can't argue this one. Verdict: 2008
Third base: Pedro Feliz vs. Maikel Franco
The only reason Feliz didn't hit eighth in the 2008 Phillies lineup is because Carlos Ruiz was also playing that day. Meanwhile, Franco quietly has been productive. Three straight seasons with at least 22 homers, and he also led the Phillies in batting average last season (not a huge feat, but .270 is a good average) Verdict: 2019
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins vs. Jean Segura
Fairly even matchup here. Both Rollins and Segura have pop, and a lot of speed. I'll give the nod to J-Roll here, because he has more of both. And Jimmy could always bring it when the red light was on. Verdict: 2008
Left field: Pat Burrell vs. Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen is a former NL MVP and a five-time All-Star, but I'm giving the edge to The Bat here. Thirty-three homers, 86 RBI, 102 walks, and an OPS that was just a few ticks behind Howard's for the season (.875, compared to .881 for Howard). This was Burrell's last good season, and he was an underrated force in the middle of the lineup. Verdict: 2008
Center field: Shane Victorino vs. Odubel Herrera
The image of Victorino leaping on top of the pile following the final out in the World Series is indelible. But this one is closer to me than you may think. I feel like these two players are similar. Streaky hitters, good speed-power combo, even down to the occasional mental errors on the field. I'm hopeful Herrera shakes off last year's second half and gives the team more of what we saw in early 2018. Verdict: Push
Right field: Jayson Werth vs. Bryce Harper
We are through the looking glass here. A player who left the Phillies to head south to D.C. against the new addition, who did the opposite this week. I don't think this is a close race. While Werth was a significant cog in the 2008 machine, Harper gives you so much more offensively that it's not a fair fight. Verdict: 2019
Based on the individual matchups, I'm giving a slight edge to the 2008 team. I will say that the fac it's close enough to argue will make for a fun spring and summer, with the hopes for many more to come.
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