The Philadelphia Phillies are not as good as they used to be. This team just is not one of the elite in baseball as it has been in past seasons, when they won five straight NL East titles.
Currently our Phightin’ Phils sit at 7-9, in the cellar of the division they have dominated since ’07. They sit behind the young Miami Marlins, the rejuvenated New York Mets, the arch-rival Atlanta Braves, and emerging Washington Nationals.
Unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, the problem is clear and isolated. We have no offense. Zip, zilch, nada.
Our pitching is essentially the reason we aren’t 3-13 or worse, ranking second in team ERA among MLB teams behind the Nats. In fact, we lost a game where Cliff Lee pitched 10 scoreless innings. We couldn’t buy a run aganst San Francisco through ten innings, a pathetic display of offensive ineptitude.
Getting a run seemed to be a foregone conclusion these past few years. Now it has become harder and harder to get runs. Last year, we were blanked 8 times in 167 games (including the post-season). We have already been shutout twice and we aren’t even to the 20 game mark yet! This also includes 10 games where we have failed to produce more than 2 runs. In terms of relative success, the Phils are 29th out of 30 in scoring runs and slugging percentage among all MLB clubs; I mean, you know you’re pathetic when the only offense you’re better than is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Of course, not having our 2 long-time studs, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, doesn’t help. These two have been counted upong to put up runs during the season and when they do return they will help jump start this offense.
Even so, look at our current lineup. It features such names as Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino. Rollins is only a few years removed from a MVP year, and while he isn’t the same player, She can still be an above-average lead-off hitter.
Polanco is supposed to be the guy who always gets on base, but his BA is only .192 and his on base a .222. Unless he regains his ability to slap the ball into the outfield instead of chopping at the ball, he’s gonna continue to be detrimental to Philly’s success.
All of this hurts Hunter Pence’s ability to be a game-changer. The one who electrified Philly, and set off the Phillies offense. Without any protection, he’s not seeing any good pitches and through his natural tendency to swing freely, he’s now struck out 13 times already this season and is thus hitting .258 so far this season.
Juan Pierre has been useful and can play very well, especially because he’s been consistently getting on base (.326 batting average). It will be interesting to see how he develops. John Mayberry Jr. has been non-existent this season, which has been disappointing. Victorino has been decent, but he really needs to pick it up as a team leader.
Our pitching has been nothing short of legendary this season. Doc and Cliff have sub-2 ERAs, Cole and Vance are below 3, Papelbon is 5/5, and Chad Qualls has been a pleasant surprise as he leads the league in holds.
The offense needs to be there though. Pierre is the only hitter above .300 this season, which is a disgrace.
Another worrying thing is the fact that Phils have dropped series to the Pirates, Mets, and split the Padres. These are teams that we should dominate. But we aren’t. Why? Because, even with a dominating pitching staff, our offensive woes are just too great to overcome. And it’ll take a lot to get it fixed, starting with plate discipline and small ball tactics.