2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies to target and avoid this draft season.

After two straight successful seasons falling just short of bringing home a World Series trophy, the Phillies will be back with a vengeance in 2024 looking to finish what they haven’t been able to in 2022 and 2023. Philadelphia boasts one of baseball’s best rosters and is loaded with veteran talent at nearly every position.

Brimming with seemingly “safe” options with long-proven track records at the MLB level, it may seem difficult to find any diamonds in the rough or players to flat-out avoid but let’s take a close look and see if we can find some draft day values or pitfalls.




José Alvarado

2023 Stats (41.1 IP): 1.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 64 K, 10 SV

Alvarado is hands down the Phillies player I’m most excited to target in 2024 drafts. The flame-throwing lefty is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. Take a look at this beautifully red player page and those tantalizingly high ranks nearly across the board.

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Alvarado wrapped up the 2023 campaign with 1.3 fWAR, the 25th-best mark among all relievers which is especially impressive given he threw just 41.1 innings. Every reliever with more fWAR than him had more innings than he did, and all but one had at least 10 more innings than him.

Relief pitcher statistics are notoriously fickle, so let’s step back and take a look at a three-year sample – the amount of time Alvarez has been in Philadelphia.

Since 2021, Alvarado has tossed 141 innings to the tune of a 3.16 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. He’s posted a 33.4% strikeout rate and 14% walk rate, and his 2.7 fWAR over that period is the 37th-best mark among relievers. Simply put, Alvarado’s 2023 success is not a fluke. He’s flashed this kind of high-impact stuff since his breakout 2018 campaign, he’s just never had an opportunity to be a full-time closer, but that’s about to change.

With Craig Kimbrel taking a trip two hours south to Baltimore in free agency, Alvarez should have a comfortable hold on the Phillies’ closer job. If he performs even close to the level that we’ve come to expect from him, he should hold on to that role and have a good shot at cracking 30 saves.

Elite closers have been continually pushed up draft boards over the last few years, but Alvarez’s draft stock has stayed relatively low. Looking at the last month of drafts over on the NFBC, Alvarez has an ADP of 203 with a high-water mark of 134. If he falls even close to pick 200, I’m happy to take him every single time.

There is always a downside risk and Alvarado’s like so many other pitchers’ is health. He’s only topped 60 innings once in his six full seasons, but that risk is absolutely baked into his current going rate. Even if he has an IL stint or two, you’re looking at an elite strikeout guy with solid ratios and the potential for 20+ saves. I’m ecstatic to draft him.


Cristopher Sánchez

2023 Stats (99.1 IP): 3.44 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 96 K, 3 W

In his third taste of big-league action, Sánchez finally hit his stride and cemented himself as part of the Phillies rotation posting a 3.44 ERA in 99.1 innings.

If you squint a little bit, Sánchez may look like the second coming of his rotation mate Ranger Suárez. Like Suárez, Sánchez is a soft-tossing lefty who leans heavily on a sinker.

Sánchez tossed his fastball 46% of the time, especially to same-handed hitters to decent results. On the plus side, Sánchez’s sinker consistently earned him strikes – its 72.7% strike rate was 89th percentile among sinkers. Sánchez earned a 33% CSW% with the offering, an 88th percentile mark. The sinker was good for a strong 5.15 PLV, but some pitch models didn’t like it. Eno Sarris’ Stuff+ gave it just a 71, ranking it 29 percent below average. You can see some of that weakness in the batted ball results. Opposing hitters posted a 42.8% ICR% against the pitch, generating a .294 xAVG and .361 xwOBA.

While the sinker isn’t a standout offering, Sánchez’s ability to toss it for strikes is a massive skill. It helps him keep his walk rate and WHIP in check and provides a really solid floor for fantasy purposes. Last year Sánchez posted phenomenal results in those areas – a 4% walk rate and 1.05 WHIP. Both those numbers ranked sixth among all pitchers who threw at least 90 innings.

The real make-or-break pitch in Sánchez’s arsenal is his changeup. When it’s going, he’s going. He tossed it 33% of the time last year and it’s easily his best weapon with a filthy 23.1% SwStr%. He throws it often in two-strike counts and it had a 27.8% PAR% which was 95th percentile among changeups. Even when batters did make contact with Sánchez’s changeup, they didn’t get much of the pitch. They hit it to just a 29.5% ICR% and a .204 wOBA.

Sánchez’s breakout 2023 is largely due to his success with the changeup as it boosted his strikeout rate to a career-high 24.2%. While that’s not a flashy punchout rate, it makes for a great combination with his low walk rate. His 20.2% K-BB% was 23rd best in baseball.

Rounding out Sánchez’s arsenal is a so-so slider. He only uses it 21% of the time and its marks are middling: a 31.2% CSW% (63rd percentile), 64.9% strike rate (65th), .308 wOBA (44th), and 35.3% ICR% (63rd). Interestingly, Sánchez tosses his breaking pitch much differently than most pitchers. He keeps it both glove-side and inside to batters much more often than the average pitcher. Stuff+ loves this pitch grading it at 123.

When you put it all together Sánchez has the makings of a really solid back-end starting pitcher with room for more if he can develop that slider to be more of a strikeout offering. Phillies’ GM Dave Dombrowski has already commented on Sánchez this offseason and hopes he can continue where he left off as the team’s fifth starter.

If the 27-year-old lefty can come even close to duplicating last year’s results, he should be a solid option at the end of fantasy rosters in 12-team formats. He has a nice WHIP floor, carries win upside pitching for a World Series contender, and shouldn’t hurt you in ERA or strikeouts. His current NFBC ADP of 249 makes him a fun late-round pick, and if he is penciled in at number five, he’ll start the season with a nice schedule of CIN, @STL, PIT, CHW.




Nick Castellanos

2023 Stats (671 PA): .272 AVG, 79 R, 29 HR, 106 RBI, 11 SB

Castellanos bounced back from a dismal debut in Philadelphia with a somewhat surprising return to form in 2023. Last year’s .272/.311/.476 slash line was miles ahead of his .263/.305/.389 performance from 2022, but the underlying numbers weren’t a whole lot different and in some ways were even worse.

First, the good. Castellanos’ batted ball profile stayed nearly identical to his down 2022 campaign, but he made gains where it counts. He pulled the ball more often allowing him to get to his power more easily, and increased his barrel rate. Overall Castellanos didn’t hit the ball a lot harder than he did previously, but he importantly added exit velocity to his fly balls.

Now the downside. Without a doubt, the biggest concern here is the blooming strikeout rate. It’s the third straight year it’s risen and is up nearly seven percentage points from where it was in 2021. With Castellanos celebrating his 32nd birthday in early March, it’s a legitimate concern whether he’ll be able to rein it back in, or if we’ll see it further grow as he approaches his mid-30s.

It’s not just the ever-increasing swing-and-miss nature of Castellanos’s game that has me worried, but also that he over-performed his quality of contact. Each of his xBA (.258),  xSLG (.443), and xWOBA (.320) were exceeded by a good margin. Even if Castellanos does perform similarly to how he did last year, there’s a good chance those rate stats don’t come out as high as they did in 2023.

With a current ADP of 96, I’m just not that interested in drafting Castellanos. If he falls a few more rounds, I may take a shot and be willing to risk the downside, but this range features a lot of other younger, more exciting bats. He’s going right around the likes of Josh Jung, Spencer Steer, Lane Thomas, Triston Casas, and Jordan Walker.


J.T. Realmuto

2023 Stats (540 PA): .252 AVG, 70 R, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB

Realmuto followed up the best season of his career in 2022 with his worst in 2023. Now, he’s a catcher, so the bar here is pretty low and he certainly still provided some value from fantasy’s weakest position.

Last year, Realmuto slashed .252/.310/.452 with those solid if unremarkable counting stats you can see above. FanGraphs’ Auction Calculator listed him as the sixth-best catcher in fantasy last year. Not bad, sure, but not the elite backstop you thought you were drafting if you paid the going rate for him during draft season – he had an ADP of 27 in March 2023 NFBC drafts.

Realmuto’s ADP this year has fallen to 70, a nice discount, but one that I still don’t feel too comfortable with. That makes him the second catcher off the board, followed shortly after by William Contreras and Will Smith at 75 and 79, respectively.

The three-time All-Star will turn 33 in March, and catchers typically hit the age wall earlier rather than later. Realmuto’s 2023 may have been the start of that age-related decline as we saw him post a career-worst 25.6% strikeout rate while some of his meaningful batted-ball numbers fell. Realmuto saw a downturn in each of his hard-hit rate, ideal contact rate, and flyball exit velocity.

Aside from his down season and aging concerns, one reason I’d avoid Realmuto is the depth at the catcher position. Yes, you read that right. Catcher is actually pretty deep for the first time… maybe ever?

Even once you get out of the top tier of catchers, a lot of promising young talent has emerged behind the plate over the last few seasons. Here’s just a selection of those guys being drafted well after Realmuto: Yainer Diaz, Jonah Heim, Cal Raleigh, Francisco Alvarez, Bo Naylor, Logan O’Hoppe, Shea Langeliers, Gabriel Moreno, Keibert Ruiz, Luis Campusano. There’s more than that too! In one-catcher leagues, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to force an early-round catcher selection with so many later options carrying exciting potential. In two-catcher leagues, I’m more interested in locking down one of those top guys, but there’s still plenty of depth to go around if you don’t.

Despite all of what you just read, there is one big reason that you may want to draft Realmuto, and that’s his speed. In a difficult season where he struggled nearly across the board, his speed didn’t. He stole 16 bases last year and his sprint speed was still elite in the 84th percentile. He’s the only catcher that Steamer projects to swipe double-digit bags. If you’re light on stolen bases when you get to his spot on the draft board, he provides a meaningful advantage over every other catcher in that department.

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from every fantasy league format you can imagine to the unending greatness of Mike Trout. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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