2016 season preview: No. 30 Philadelphia Phillies

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No. 29 Braves | No. 28 Reds | Nos. 30-21


Last Season: 63-99
Projected record: 68-94 (fifth in NL East)
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Since capturing their fifth straight National League East title with 102 victories in 2011, the Phillies have produced win totals of 81, 73, 73 and 63. They started a hard-core rebuild last summer, trading away veterans Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon for prospects. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak will have lots of maneuverability to improve the roster when the salaries for first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz come off the books after this season. Right now, it's all about giving the kids a chance.

J.P. Crawford isn't in Philadelphia yet, but he's definitely a huge part of the Phillies' future plans. He's the No. 4 prospect in baseball according to Keith Law and No. 3 according to ZiPS. A call-up to Philadelphia at some point later in the season seems likely. -- ESPN.com

Third baseman Maikel Franco made a big impression as a rookie (.280/.343/.497 in 80 games), and shortstop J.P. Crawford will give the Phillies a dynamic left side of the infield when Crawford gets called up at some point this season. In addition, the Phillies appear to have gotten a nice haul from Texas in the Hamels trade. Pete Mackanin showed a deft touch in cultivating young talent after replacing Ryne Sandberg as manager at midseason, and Mackanin will be in development mode again after getting the "interim" tag removed from his title.

The Phillies' rotation ranked 29th in the majors with a 5.23 ERA last season and 28th in innings with a mere 892, so the bullpen could be taxed again. Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton are an upgrade over Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams, but the Phils will be challenged to compete against the likes of the Mets and Nationals in the NL East. The offense ranked 27th in the majors with 626 runs, so it too is a work-in-progress. Howard, who batted .130 with a .418 OPS against lefties in 2015, might have to be platooned with Darin Ruf at first base.

No. 29 Braves | No. 28 Reds | Nos. 30-21