With less than a week until opening day, let's take a look at some Phillies over-unders for the 2017 season, courtesy of Bovada:
Maikel Franco: O/U .265 BA, 24.5 HR, 85.5 RBIs
Franco hit .255 with 25 home runs and 88 RBIs last season, his first full year in the majors.
Those weren't bad stats for a 23-year-old, but Franco fell short of the lofty expectations set for him by the Phillies and their fans. There was a lot of "future MVP" talk before last season, as well as an endorsement from Mike Schmidt that Franco has a chance to be a better defensive third baseman than Schmidt himself was.
Advice: I'd go under .265, over 24.5 HR and over 85.5 RBIs.
The reasoning? I just think Franco is, long-term, going to be a .260ish hitter. There are legitimate flaws in his swing, approach and, at times, his concentration. Franco gave away far too many at-bats last season, and while I do think he learned from that, I don't think he's going to, within a year, significantly improve upon his ability to lay off breaking balls low and out of the zone.
Franco isn't a fast runner, either, so infield hits will be hard to come by.
The homers and RBIs, however, seem like safe bets to go over. Franco had more homers and RBIs than Vegas' projection with less lineup protection last season. And his power is real enough that I don't see him finishing a full season with fewer than 25 homers.
With a 1-2-3 of Cesar Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, Franco's RBI opportunities should be plentiful.
Tommy Joseph: O/U 24.5 HR, 70.5 RBIs
I'm going under on both.
Joseph hit 21 home runs last season in just 347 plate appearances. That's a full-season pace of 32 HR. But that's not how baseball works -- think about how many times over the years we looked at Darin Ruf's numbers in limited time and extrapolated them over a full year.
Now, Joseph and Ruf are different players. Joseph is a better hitter, simple and plain. He has a better idea at the plate, and midway through last season Joseph showed an ability to adjust. There was a little over a week there when he couldn't catch up to any above-average fastballs. From June 27-July 3, Joseph went 0 for 16 and struck out four times in a game in Arizona. It made some start to wonder if he was just a flash in the pan.
But Joseph responded by going 14 for his next 28 with five homers and two doubles.
My rationale for going under with Joseph's HR and RBI numbers in 2017:
• He's been injury-prone throughout his career so a season-long over bet doesn't feel safe.
• Pitchers always adjust to a hitter in the hitter's second season.
• The Phillies have multiple players who can play first base, so I don't expect Joseph to start, say, 140 games. When he's slumping, the Phils could do something like move Kendrick to first base and start Aaron Altherr in left field. Or they could put Brock Stassi (assuming he makes the team) at first against a tough righty.
Odubel Herrera: O/U .280 BA, 22.5 steals
I'm easily taking the over on both.
What has Herrera done through two years to make us think he won't reach .280? He hit .297 as a rookie and .286 last season, and if anything those two years felt like less than his potential, not more. I don't think Herrera's going to hit .330 this year, but I could definitely see a .310 in his near future as he continues to grow.
Herrera's speed and his ability to hit lefties along with righties makes this a pretty safe over bet.
As far as the stolen bases, Herrera went 25 for 32 last season, and now has a first base coach in Mickey Morandini who is focused on improving his players' jumps.
Herrera had a .361 OBP last season. When you get on base that much and you're fast, you're in a position to steal plenty of bases.
Put me down for a .312 batting average and 31 steals for El Torito.
Cesar Hernandez: O/U .285, 25.5 steals
This one is tougher. I think the signs Hernandez showed in the second half last season were real, and I expect him to post a .350-plus on-base percentage, but I'm not fully confident that he'll exceed .285.
Would it be all that surprising if Hernandez hit something like .282 with a .360 OBP? I don't feel great about the batting average bet.
As far as the stolen bases, I'm taking the under, despite the aforementioned addition of Morandini. Hernandez has well-above-average speed, but he just hasn't proven to be an instinctive or efficient base stealer. He went 17 for 30 last season, becoming the first player since Brady Clark in 2005 to be caught at least 13 times in 30 or fewer attempts.
If the number was 20.5 or 22.5, I think I'd take the over. But 25.5 is a bit high for Cesar.
Howie Kendrick: O/U .275 BA
Taking the over. Kendrick hit .255 last season. He was also moved all over the field and all over the lineup by the Dodgers.
In the 10 seasons before last, Kendrick hit over .275 every year and hit .285 or better nine times.
He's a good singles hitter, and .275 is not a high benchmark. Unless Kendrick's skills have just completely eroded, this one feels safe.
Jerad Eickhoff and Jeremy Hellickson: O/U 10.5 wins each
Both pitchers were models of consistency last season -- Eickhoff made 33 starts and had a 3.65 ERA; Hellickson made 32 with a 3.71 ERA.
Both guys keep you in the game. Both guys will benefit from an improved offense and bullpen. And both go deep into games regularly enough to factor into the decision.
I feel slightly better about Hellickson's chances because the possibility exists that he'll be traded to a contender by the deadline, which would only enhance his chances of getting a bit more run support and being in position for an additional win or two.
But I'd take the over on both.