Who Deserves the Most Credit for the Phillies’ Early Success?
Everybody in the Phillies’ organization deserves credit for the hot start that has the team sitting in the middle of the National League East and Wild Card race. But who deserves most of the credit for the teams early success?
Here are the five candidates who I think deserve most of the credit:
The Phillies manager has given this group confidence. As ESPN analyst and former Cy Young pitcher Rick Sutcliff told me on the Sports Bash, Mackanin told his players that if they were going to make a mistake do it on the side of aggressiveness.
That is something that fees this young team up, and allows them to play with confidence, they are not afraid to make mistakes
Mackanin has made the players feel like they can make mistakes and not be on egg shells because of it. There are a lot of things Mackanin has done to put the Phillies to win games each and every night. The ability to take his team and mold them into the group he wants for the first time has been a big reason for the Phillies start to the season.
He isn't losing games in the dugout, and he is putting his team in position to win just about every night - that's the sign of a good manager and a big reason the Phillies have had early season success.
The 24-year old rule 5 pick has been the teams best offensive player. He is No. 2 in the majors in on-base percentage at .439, his .329 batting average has him ranked 11th in baseball. His 33 walks has him ranked fifth best in baseball, for a young player with limited lead-off experience. His 1.8 WAR is the exact same as Bryce Harper at this stage of the season - needless to say he has been the Phillies biggest surprise on offense, where he was good last year, but not this good.
While its is fair to give Ruben Amaro Jr. some credit for the Cole Hamels deal that brought the team a plethora of talent, Klentak's deal of Ken Giles for five pitchers has been a coup for the organization. The top name in that deal is the talented Vince Velazquez, but Klentak also signed 29-year old Jeremy Hellickson who has stabilized and given some experience to the top of the rotation.
While the offense has been an issue, he brought in sound defensive players and that has given this team a chance to win every night with guys like Peter Borjous and rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel playing the corner outfield, the Phillies defense is considerably better than the team was a year ago.
The pitching coach is typically a forgotten name man - but it’s hard for me to overlook the job he has done with the young starters and inexperienced bullpen.
"Bobby McClure has been around the game a long time," Sutcliff told me. "He knows what he is doing.
What he is doing is telling guys, you don't have to strike everyone out, the Phillies have a very good defensive team, keep the pitch counts down and allow them to make plays behind you and so far it has worked.
Former GM Ruben Amaro
There is no doubt he has to get some of this credit. Not as much for Velazquez and Hellickson since Amaro didn’t acquire them, but his finger prints are certainly on this team.
The issue with Amaro was not knowing when to start over, he stayed with the 2008 core to long.
But he virtually the entire team has Amaro's finger prints on them both good and bad. If Tommy Joseph works out, we might look at the Hunter Pence deal differently, he picked up Herrera in the rule 5 draft, drafted Aaron Nola, signed Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez.
Much like when Ed Wade was criticized and fired back in 2005, it was many of the players that he held on to and didn't trade (Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard) that were responsible for the 2008 World Series team.
Let's hope in a few years we can say the same about Amaro's guys.