Once upon a time the Philadelphia Phillies were one of the biggest laughing stocks in the entire league. After the Phillies lost in the 1993 World Series, they had a stretch of fourteen years without a playoff appearance. In half of those fourteen years, the Phillies did not even manage to win 80 games. Then in 2007, Philadelphia shocked the baseball world with their comeback to win the NL East, despite being down 7 games to the New York Mets. Each year since 2007, the Phillies have seen their win total climb from 89 to 92, 93, 97, and 102 last year. The one thing that was hidden between the record climb was the fact that every year since 2008, their World Series year, the Phillies went less deep into the playoffs. Their total team age has also taken a hit as well.
Team Leaders:(Through 87 games)
G – Shane Victorino & Hunter Pence (86)
AB – Jimmy Rollins (348)
R – Hunter Pence (58)
H – Hunter Pence (97)
HR – Hunter Pence (16)
RBI – Hunter Pence (50)
AVG – Carlos Ruiz (.350)
W – Cole Hamels (10)
ERA – Cole Hamels (3.20)
SV – Jonathan Papelbon (18)
First Half Awards:
MVP – Carlos Ruiz
Cy Young – Cole Hamels
LVP’s (least valuable player’s) – Phillies bullpen
Most Likely to Bounce Back – Shane Victorino
2nd Half MVP (prediction) – Hunter Pence
Now that you have seen how the Phillies faired in the first half, there are a couple of questions that have come up over this first half. Have the Phillies dropped too low in the standings? Can Ryan Howard and Chase Utley save the season? Is it time to get younger? The answer to those questions will soon be answered. Personally I believe the answer to all the questions are yes. Today as the first half ends, the Phillies find themselves with a 37-50 record, 14 games out of first place in the NL East, and 10 games out of the NL Wild Card. They had almost 10 players hit the disabled list over the 3½-month span of the season. In the eyes of many Phillies fans, this season looks just about over. Currently, the Phils have a 2.4% chance of making the playoffs. It will take roughly 89-91 wins to make the Wild Card game this year. That would require them to win about 50 of the remaining 75 games of the season.
With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley almost 100% healthy, the Phils lineup will start to see some consistency. I know that everyone looks at the stats of players. Yes, Howard’s WAR (wins above replacement) is around a 0.7 and yes, Chase Utley’s WAR is around a 1.7. But to me, numbers always lie. The fact that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard cause pitching coaches and managers to go insane when developing a game plan, can only help their lineup. The rest of the team will see better pitches to hit. Players, who have had subpar first halves, will see their numbers escalate just because of the presence of this 3-4 combo in the middle of the lineup.
I do believe that if the Phillies continue to struggle that it is time to sell. The Phillies can consider themselves as the AAMCO of the MLB. They have pieces all over their roster that teams would be more than willing to get for young prospects. Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre and Hunter Pence are all names that I would look to move if I was Ruben Amaro Jr. The Phillies could also shop Roy Halladay if they really wanted to. But don’t give up on this team just yet. Yes, the entire league has gotten better, but history tends to repeat itself. The history could be good, meaning that the Phillies will make a miraculous comeback that no one saw coming, or it could be bad, where we could see this Phillies team miss the playoffs for more than 10 years. These are all things that the Phillies organization must take into perspective when deciding on what to do before the trade deadline. This first half was rough though it may have been a miracle in disguise for this team because the second half has historically been good for the Phitin Phils.