What a difference a break makes. Who would have thought that the 2017 Phillies would have one of the best offenses in baseball since the All-Star break? But before we dive into this resurgence, let’s take a look at the ups and downs the Phillies offense has had the past ten seasons.
Ten seasons ago, Phillies fans were in the midst of what would turn out to be a magical season. After that World Series win, the Phillies would go on to win the NL East the next three years, appear in another World Series, and be one of the most dominant teams in baseball.
From 2008 to 2011, the Phillies ranked in the top 10 in most offensive categories every season.
|R||9th (799)||4th (820)||7th (772)||13th (713)|
|HR||2nd (214)||3 (244)||9th (166)||18th (153)|
|TB||7th (2412)||4 (2493)||10 (2307)||15th (2202)|
|AVG||23rd .(.255)||23rd (.258)||12th (.260)||16th (.253)|
|OBP||16th (.332)||14 (.334)||11th (.332)||11th (.323)|
|SLG||6th (.438)||3 (.447)||12th (.413)||17th (.395)|
|K||12 (1117)||12 (1155)||22 (1064)||26th (1024)|
|BB||8 (586)||10 (589)||7th (560)||8th (539)|
While they struck out a lot in 2008 and 2009, they were able to draw walks, get on base, and score runs. In 2010 and 2011, they were able to cut down on their strikeouts and raise their on base percentage, but saw their total bases and runs decrease. Still, with numbers like they were putting up, it’s no surprise the Phillies were able to be perennial World Series favorites during this stretch.
It’s been a different story from 2012 on. During the last five seasons, the Phils have finished no higher than third in the division (2012) and finished with the worst record in baseball in 2015. Phillies games used to be must see TV. Now, many just want to find out what the score was at the end of the game, if they even go that far.
So, what’s changed? Sure, we no longer have guys like Utley, Rollins, Hamels, and Halladay. The Phillies are now filled with the “hopes” and the “what ifs.” The grizzled veterans to use as trade bait come the trading deadline.
With those changes comes the biggest decline in the Phillies performance – their offense.
Let’s take a look at those same numbers for the seasons since the Phillies last made the playoffs.
|R||19th (684)||27th (610)||23rd (619)||27th (626)||30th (610)||29th (379)|
|HR||18th (158)||23rd (140)||21st (125)||28th (130)||24th (161)||28th (98)|
|TB||17th (2215)||25th (2094)||24th (2036)||26th (2110)||30th (2090)||27th (1303)|
|AVG||15th (.255)||21st (.248)||24th (.242)||24th (.249)||29th (.240)||23rd (.246)|
|OBP||17th (.317)||24th (.306)||25th (.302)||29th (.303)||29th (.301)||27th (.309)|
|SLG||17th (.400)||21st (.384)||28th (.363)||28th (.382)||29th (.385)||26th (.402)|
|K||27th (1094)||16th (1205)||8th (1306)||13th (1274)||7th (1376)||11th (817)|
|BB||24th (454)||27th (417)||19th (443)||28 (387)||29th (424)||24th (285)|
Looking at these numbers, it’s clear to see why the Phillies have failed to make the playoffs since 2012. They have ranked in the bottom third of practically every category, and have even finished last in some of them. Not a recipe for success.
What’s most concerning about these numbers is the increase in strikeouts, the decline in walks, and the subsequent decline in on base percentage and runs. From 2008-2011, the most the Phillies struck out was 1,064 times in 2010. From 2012 on, they’ve struck out more than 1,200 times every season except for 2012.
During their playoff run, the Phillies were one of the most patient teams in baseball, ranking in the top ten in walks every season. Now, they consistently find themselves in the basement of that category.
Consistent and top performing offense during their playoff run. Basement dwellers ever since. For the 2017 season, they’re 29th in runs, 28th in homeruns, 27th in total bases, 27th in OBP, 26th in slugging, 24th in walks, 23rd in average, and 11th in strikeouts.
With numbers like that, everyone saw the Phillies being in the top of the offensive ranking for the second half of the season, right? Well as I mentioned in the beginning, that’s exactly where we find ourselves.
Before the Phils started their series with the AL-best Houston Astros, in 9 games prior since the All-Star break, the Phillies had a .293 average (5th), a .371 OBP (3rd), .473 slugging (11th), 53 runs (9th), 40 walks (3rd) and 73 strikeouts (10th fewest).
Up until their 4-run output in the opening game of the Astros series and their shutout loss last night, they also scored at least 5 runs a game for 7 games in a row, something they haven’t done since 2005.
Led by Nick Williams and Odubel Herrera, you have a team that is firing on all cylinders, and giving us some exciting baseball.
The Phillies need to keep this up for the remainder of the season. Hitting is contagious, and this is their time to show who should be a part of the future here. After all, Herrera is the only player under contract for 2018.
But it also gives them the experience and confidence they need to sustain this offensive outburst for future seasons. It’s clear they have it in them to be a top performing team. If they can prove this is not a fluke and carry this momentum through the end of this season and into next, the next great era of Phillies baseball may not be too far off.
Photo: beisbolsinaloa (via Flickr)