Phillies Fans Clamoring for Nick Williams Seem to Be Missing the Point

No matter who the odd man out became this season for the Phillies, a portion of the fanbase was going to complain. That's the nature of sports, fandom and, well, Philadelphia.

So far, the odd man out has been Nick Williams.

Williams sat again Sunday, making it 12 times in the Phillies' last 15 games that he's been out of the lineup. 

And so the "Where is Williams" questions have grown louder. 

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"The Phillies are stunting his development." 

"What is Gabe Kapler doing?"

If you're going to claim that Williams deserves more playing time or that the Phillies are doing him a disservice, you then have to consider how you'd get him in the lineup.

Obviously, Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera have to play every day. They are by far the Phillies' two best hitters.

Right now, Aaron Altherr has to play regularly too. Over the last two weeks, he's hit .351 with a .986 OPS and nine RBI. And aside from being the Phils' hottest hitter over that span, Altherr is also a far superior defensive outfielder to Williams.

Sit Carlos Santana and move Hoskins to first base? Sure, that's an option. But the Phillies invested $60 million in Santana and are not going to make him a part-time player, period. And he does appear to be on the verge of a breakout after a slow April. Over his last four games, Santana has two doubles, a triple, homer and two walks. He also has a .354 OBP over his last 15 games.

Williams has to be frustrated over the lack of playing time, but it's not as if he's seized the few opportunities he's had. In his 13 starts this season, Williams has gone 6 for 44 (.136) with two extra-base hits and 17 strikeouts in 50 plate appearances. Yes, some of that could be a result of rust from infrequent playing time, but a few 2-for-4 games certainly would have helped his cause.

This is a lot like the "move Vince Velasquez to the bullpen" cry from fans that rarely goes beyond one sentence. OK, and replace him in the rotation with who? Is Jake Thompson, Ben Lively or Zach Eflin going to give you a better chance to win every fifth day than Velasquez? Is it a meaningful upgrade in any way, shape or form? Is it even a lateral move?

To those saying the Phillies should trade Williams if they won't play him, it's probably not even worth it at this moment. Outfielders are plentiful across baseball and Williams hasn't done nearly enough to make another GM say, "Ooo, I need to give up something good to go get him." 

Sending Williams to Triple A to get regular playing time is another option, but that, quite frankly, would weaken the Phillies' bench. If they were 10-22 right now, maybe that would be the correct route. But they're 18-14.

Triple A could still be an option for Williams at some point over the next few weeks. Roman Quinn is hitting .302 for Lehigh Valley with seven extra-base hits and 11 steals in 21 games. The Phillies played Quinn, a CF, twice in right field this week, which could be a sign that they're preparing him for a bench role in the majors. Quinn's speed would play well in that role, and with him turning 25 this week, the Phillies will want to get him up here as soon as they can.

But the bottom line is we knew there was going to be an odd man out in the Phillies' outfield this season. It so happens it's Williams. That's just the way it is. It doesn't mean the front office or manager is failing the player.

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