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The Phillies are going to walk at a much higher rate in 2018

J.p. crawford spring 3

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor  

For the third consecutive season, Cesar Hernandez led the Philadelphia Phillies in walks in 2017. There's a very real chance that Hernandez won't be on the team in 2018, but the Phillies figure to walk more as a team next season regardless. 

Rhys Hoskins, who didn't make his MLB debut until Aug. 10, walked 37 times in the first 170 at-bats . If you project that out to a 500 at-bat season, Hoskins would be on-pace to walk nearly 110 times in 2018. By comparison, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt walked 94 times in 2017. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman's career high in walks is 90. 

What's more, Hoskins walked 37 times in 170 at-bats, while Tommy Joseph, whose at-bats he will be taking in 2018, walked just 33 times in 495 at-bats. So not only will Hoskins add more walks to the lineup, he's going to be pushing someone out of the lineup in Joseph that didn't walk frequently. 

Hoskins isn't the only late-season addition to the lineup that figures to increase the amount of times that the team walks in 2018. 

Though he hit just .214 in his first 70 major league at-bats in 2017, J.P. Crawford also walked 16 times in his first major league stint. If you project that out to a 500 at-bat season, Crawford would be on-pace to walk more than 115 times. The only shortstops that have ever walked at even comparable rates are ones that had a considerable amount more pop than Crawford does, such as Cal Ripken Jr. or Alex Rodriguez. 

70 at-bats is a minuscule sample size, though. Crawford isn't going to walk over 100 times in 2018. If he doesn't hit at a higher rate, opposing pitchers will be more aggressive in the strike-zone. If he does hit at a higher-rate, he'll probably become a bit more aggressive at the plate. Regardless, Crawford is going to walk at a very high rate for a shortstop. While Freddy Galvis walked 45 times in 2017, which was actually the second most on the Phillies - it feels likely that Crawford will easily top that number. 

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Then there's Odubel Herrera. 

After walking 63 times in 2016, the 25-year-old regressed in his approach in 2017, walking just 31 total times. Herrera nearly walked as many times in April of 2016 - when he put an emphasis on taking more pitches and walked 23 times - as he did in all of 2017. 

Truth be told, it's unclear if anyone will ever be able to get Herrera to consistently have a strong approach at the plate. It would be unfair to blame his regression in terms of taking pitches in 2017 on new hitting coach Matt Stairs. Herrera may just be a streaky offensive player that is extremely effective when he's hot, but never has a consistent approach. 

However, you can bet that he's going to walk more than 31 times in 2018. Whether Stairs is the hitting coach or not, there will be a new, likely analytically driven, coaching staff leading the Phillies next season. With the understanding that Herrera has proven how valuable he can be when he's patient at the plate, the new coaching staff will likely make getting Herrera to be more selective at the plate a point of emphasis in Spring Training. Whether they can get him to consistently take walks or not remains to be seen, but he probably will in the first month or two of the season. There will probably be a happy medium between the amount of times that he walked in 2016 and 2017. 

Jorge Alfaro walked just three times in 107 at-bats in 2017, but Andrew Knapp, who will likely be his backup, walked 31 times in 171 at-bats. Scott Kingery, who will likely spend a bulk of his 2018 season at the major league level, walked a respectable 41 times between Double-A and Triple-A. Nick Williams also improved his walk percentage from 3.6 percent in 2016, to 5.2 at Triple-A and 5.8 percent at the major league level. This seems to be an area of Williams' offensive game that is improving, and a new coaching staff may be able to get him to improve a bit more yet. 

Former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. didn't seem to value walks much. Suffice to say, that's the exact opposite approach of the current regime, led by Klentak. You'll see that play out on the field in 2018. 

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