PlayerName: Aaron Altherr
Age: 25 on Jan. 14
Experience: 41 games
What we saw in 2015
In just 39 games, Aaron Altherr made quite an impression. Stirring the echos of another recent lanky, toolsy outfielder, Altherr roped an astounding 20 extra-base hits in just 137 at-bats and swiped six bases. He ended up with a .241/.338/.489 line that was quite scintillating. His 1.7 WAR in such a short span is probably a bit of an aberration, based on his minor league numbers. He never launched 20-plus homers in the bushes - though he collected his fair share of doubles and wasn't a slouch with the long-ball.
He also looks like a good defender.
Altherr's speed seems to be unappreciated by fans at this point. He's a guy who swiped 80 bases from 2011-2013. His four triples and six steals in The Bigs last year shows he's still got the legs.
It's fair to assume Altherr will start the season in Philadelphia; though nothing is guaranteed at this point. It's also fair to speculate that he should get a significant amount of playing time. Is he a building block for the future? Either as a fourth outfielder or as a Jayson Werth-like player. Finding out more about Altherr should be an enjoyable part of the upcoming season.
Important goals for 2016115 games: If Altherr can get into more than 100 games this season that means he was somewhat productive and healthy. As someone who was never considered an elite prospect, proving that he can stick in the Major Leagues as an everyday player on a team like the 2016 Phillies will be a solid foundation for himself and the team.
20/20 club: No, I don't expect Altherr to swipe 20 bases and launch 20 homers. But a baseline of 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases would be very valuable. Mix in double digit homers and a handful of triples and the Phillies would be putting together a solid young outfield between Altherr and Herrera. But alongside those 20 stolen bases, one has to hope, like Odubel Herrera, he wouldn't caught stealing much. If he keeps his percentage above 70 percent.
Making contact: Altherr struck out at an alarming rate during his first 41 Major League games (He had a cup of coffee in 2014), whiffing 43 times in 142 at-bats (a 30 percent rate). If you're not launching 30 homers or hitting at least an .800 OPS, that's not very productive. The good news is his minor league strikeout rate was 23 percent for his career and 22 percent the past two seasons. Getting his whiff rate down under 25 percent would likely be a strong barometer of 2016 success. Making contact will boost his slash-line. Last season, his batting average was 18 points below the league average mark, despite his .301 batting average on balls in play being just one point below the league average. Imagine what he could do to his on-base percentage and slugging percentage!
AnalysisAltherr is the most intriguing position player heading into the 2016 Major League season. Some of the prospects in the minors are more interesting and Jerad Eickhoff is a fascinating study for the upcoming year, but Altherr can really offer a glimpse into the franchise' future.
If he proves to be a valuable starting outfielder, the Phillies' rebuild will move along alot quicker. He's a potential impact player - very similar to Jayson Werth (or even Hunter Pence).
But if he's another Wes Chamberlain, the Phillies will have that much more work to do to move forward.
Personally, I'm a big believer in Altherr and probably too optimistic. But I wouldn't be shocked to see him hit .250/.335/.440 with 15 to 18 homers, more than 20 doubles and stolen bases.
However, most projections I've seen have him hitting a similar slash line and much fewer homers and stolen bases because they don't have him getting as many at-bats.
Unless he gets hurt, I just don't see him playing in fewer than 90 games.