Sunday, May 22, 2011

What's Wrong With The Phillies?

What's wrong with the Philadelphia Phillies?

Honestly, I can't believe I just typed that sentence. By simply looking at the standings, you'd think I was crazy.  But really, what's wrong with the Phillies?

I know, they're only one game out of first place. First place IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE.  Only Cleveland has a better record, and they're an AL team.  The Phillies have led the NL East all year, and will most likely continue to do so.  So why does it feel like this team is struggling so badly?  The offense has been pathetic.  Look at the run support from the past week since the game on May 14th against the Braves: 3 runs, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 2.   That's 14 runs in 8 games!  After the first two weeks of the season, the Phils statistically had the best offense in baseball.  Since then, it's been one of the worst.   They've scored only 176 runs through 45 games, which is better than only 7 other teams.  Every other NL East team has scored more runs including the lowly Nationals.  However, the Phils rank 18th in batting average which leads me to think they're leaving too many guys on base.  And they aren't driving runs in with home runs (ranked 20th) they way they did in '08 and '09.  Only Polanco is hitting over .300, while Rollins and Victorino join him as the only guys hitting over .250. They're also dead last in doubles, which can be an excellent way to knock in runs and put guys in instant scoring position.

In 2008, their World Series year, this team prided itself on great offense. Howard, Utley, Werth and Rollins were some of the biggest threats in the league at the plate.  They didn't have Oswalt, Halladay or Lee yet.  Hamels was our only true ace that year.  

Really, everyone should have seen this offensive struggle coming.  They barely put any runs on the board towards the end of last season, especially in the NLCS against the Giants.  They lost Werth in the offseason, and Utley started the season on the DL.  Guys like Rollins, Victorino, and Ruiz have had injury issues throughout this young season.  And the guy who was supposed to take over Werth's vacancy, Dom Brown, has been struggling with injury issues as well, Just getting his first ABs this weekend.  Utley has finally rejoined the team, and is expected to make his first start tomorrow against Cincy. The team has obviously begun to age.  Our average starter is now in their early to mid 30's, which tends to be the beginning of the end for most ball players.  Lets just hope they can get it together for another season or two.

The saving grace for this team has obviously been the pitching.  This isn't a surprise to anyone considering the massive amount of pub they got in the off season after the Lee signing.  They currently have the second best ERA in the league, behind only Oakland.  They lead the league in complete games and in shutouts, and are second in strikeouts.  Unreal, phenomenal pitching stats. Apparently, this has been enough to offset our abysmal offense, but may not be enough come playoff time.  We can't expect to win every post-season game by a score of 2-1.  So lets hope the return of Utley and Dom Brown, and the benching of Pete Orr and Wilson Valdez will be enough to spark this offense. Just a tad. That's all I'm asking.


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