At 32-29 overall and currently sitting in third place in the NL East, the Phillies can be summed up (just by looking at the standings and the stats) in words that are a bit unfamiliar to those linked with Philadelphia baseball in recent years.
Mediocre. Middle of the pack. Ok.
While those certainly aren’t adjectives that have been, or are expected to be associated with the current talent residing on the Philadelphia Phillies roster, it could certainly be worse. After all, a team who has produced less than three runs a game on average for virtually an entire month, and has had injuries to the top of the order, middle of the rotation, and back end of the bullpen since day one of the season shouldn’t even be near the top of the divisional race. In fact, considering the NL East division is arguably the most talented top-t0-bottom in all of baseball (my apologizes to those who support teams in the AL East, but the record of the Baltimore Orioles ruins your case), they shouldn’t even be close.
The fact of the matter is, for some odd reason (parity is the likely option), the Phillies are right there in the thick of things, a striking distance 3.5 games back of the 1st place Atlanta Braves. However, unlike the New York Mets and the Florida Marlins, the two teams that Phillies are sandwiched between in the standings, those who have played their home games in Philadelphia for parts of the last four seasons are in quite a familiar position (a thanks goes out to an article by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Paul Hagen for helping me come to this realization).
And look how those seasons turned out..
2007: 47-48 on July 17th (won the NL East pennant)
2008: 48-43 on July 8th (won the World Series)
2009: 39-37 on July 2nd (made it to the World Series)
By the looks of the weather, moments of daylight, and most calenders, it’s still the middle of June. So, after taking a gander at the schedule and doing some hardcore addition, it’s easy to see that the season isn’t over. It’s not August or September. There are still 100 games left until the divisional winner is crowned and the playoffs are set. ONE HUNDRED. That’s more games than the NBA and NFL has combined.
While there is obviously plenty of time to jump two inconsistent and in-experienced teams for another chance at a World Series ring, it is impossible to deny the obvious nature of baseball logic.
You can’t win games if you don’t score runs.
With that said, If the Phillies recent, but lengthy bout with offensive futility continues and becomes their identity instead of a prolonged slump, it’s obviously going to be difficult for the Phillies to be sitting pretty on top of the division for the fourth straight year when it is all said and done.
Will that happen?
I guess we will find out.
But without having any sort of bias, whether that is being a Negative Nancy, a Homer, or anything in between, look at some of the qualities of this team before coming to the recently popular conclusion of conceding the division when baseball is not even halfway through the season.
Ace? Check. (Halladay, Say no more.)
MVP Candidate? Check. (Compare Ryan Howard’s stats with other NL players who play for a contender, and you’ll see that he’s right there.)
Playoff Experience? Check. (22 out of 25 players have been a part of a World Series bound team. David Herndon, Ross Gload, Halladay are the only ones who haven’t.)
Funny, those are the same qualities that usually separate the teams that participate in the postseason, and teams that don’t.
Don’t jump off the wagon just yet fans..