Now that the Sixers season is over and the Eagles are still a couple months away from Training Camp, many Philadelphia Sports Fans are turning their attention to the Phillies.  The 2019 team is in First Place with a two and a half games lead ahead of Tuesday night’s game in Chicago versus the Cubs.  We are not even in June but people are already hypercritical of a team that is tied for the second most wins in the National League (28 tied with the Brewers – only the Dodgers have more wins with 31).

The lack of perspective and appreciation for a Baseball team that added two former NL MVPs and a total of five all-stars is exasperating.  The first sporting event I ever attended was a Phillies game at Veterans Stadium as a 5 year old, my Phillies fandom has almost 30 years invested so I get how fans can be frustrated at times.  But the booing and hyper-criticism has gone as far as some to claim Andrew McCutcheon is the "weakest link" among many bizzare complaints.  But let’s take a minute to have perspective on the 2019 Phillies:

 

  1. The 2018 versus 2019 Phillies

-Through their first 47 games, the Phillies have the same record as last season: 28-19

-Through the first 47 games, the 2018 Phillies scored fewer runs (214) than the 2019 Phillies (234)

-The 2018 Phillies were near the bottom of the National League in multiple hitting categories including Runs Scored (11th), Hits (15th), Slugging Percentage (11th) and Doubles (14th).  The 2019 Phillies by comparison are 7th in Runs Scored, 7th in Hits, 8th in Slugging Percentage, and 3rd in Doubles.

-The 2018 Phillies were second to worst in the NL in Fielding Percentage (.979) and second most Errors (121); by comparison, the 2019 Phillies have a better Fielding Percentage (.983).

-The 2018 Phillies Pitching Staff was 11th in the National League in ERA (4.14), Ninth in Batting Average Against (.249), and Third Best Strikeouts-to-Walks Ratio (2.93).  Compare that to the 2019 Phillies who have the Fourth Best ERA in the NL (3.91), second to worst Batting Average Against (.258) and Fourth Best Strikeouts-to-Walks Ratio (2.57).

Conclusion: In many statistical categories, the 2019 Phillies are a better baseball team overall despite having the same record through the first 47 games of the season.

 

  1. Are The New Guys Worth The Money/Trade Assets?

Over the offseason the Phillies added several players who are expected to make an impact on the 2019 season.  Let’s go case by case of how the “new guys” compare to the rest of the National League:

-Andrew McCutcheon leads the NL in Walks (36) with Bryce Harper in second place (35)

-Bryce Harper is tied for Ninth in the NL in Doubles (13), which is more than Nolan Arenado (12) and Cody Bellinger (10)

-Harper is also tied for Ninth in the NL in RBI (31), which is more than Freddie Freeman (29) and Charlie Blackmon (28)

-Jean Segura is 11th in the NL in Batting Average (.318) which is better than Nolan Arenado (.306), Manny Machado (.263), and Kris Bryant (.263).

-Segura also has better Slugging Percentage (.481) and On-Base Percentage (.360) than Manny Machado this season (Slug: .451/OBP: .343)

-JT Realmuto has the second most RBI among Catcher in all of Major League Baseball (29 – Yadier Molina has 31), third most Doubles (10 – Buster Posey has 12), along with a better Slugging Percentage (.453) and better On-Base Percentage (.333) than Yadier Molina (Slug: .413/OBP: .293).  Also, Realmuto’s .277 Batting Average is Fifth best in MLB among qualifying Catchers; only the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras and the Red Sox’s Christian Vazquez have a Batting Average above .300 this season.

Conclusion: The four new every day starting players have been very productive and proven themselves to be great additions.

 

  1. What About The Guys From Last Year’s Team?

So much focus over the last several months has been on the additions of big names like Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutcheon, and JT Realmuto that the guys who were important players in 2018 have gotten overlooked this season.  Let’s see how the “other guys” are playing:

-Rhys Hoskins is Fifth in the National League in RBI (36), tied for Ninth in Home Runs (11) and tied for third in Walks (31); in 2018 Hoskins did finish the season 10th in the NL in RBI and Seventh in Walks.

-Maikel Franco is currently Fifth among NL Third Basemen in RBI (28), Eighth in Total Hits (38) and leads all of Major League Baseball Third Baseman in Fielding Percentage (.991); in 2018 Franco did not finish top ten in any major offensive categories and last time he was top ten in fielding percentage was 2016.

-Zach Eflin has Ninth Best ERA in the NL (2.89) and has the most Complete Games thrown (2) along with the Ninth best Strikeouts-to-Walks ratio (5.0); Eflin finished the 2018 season with a 4.36 ERA and back in 2016 he finished the year Fifth in the NL in Complete Games thrown.

-Jake Arrieta is tied for Seventh most Innings Pitched (62.0 – tied with Madison Bumgarner) and tied for Third in NL in Quality Starts (7 – tied with Max Scherzer and Hyun-Jin Ryu); the last time Arrieta finished a season top ten in Innings Pitched was 2016 and 2015.

Conclusion: Statistically several players on the Phillies are playing better in 2019 and are benefiting from playing with the new additions to the team.

 

Despite the boos and grumbling of some members of the Phillies fan base, the reality is that the 2019 Phillies are a better baseball team than the 2018 squad and the statistics show that the team is among the best in the National League.  Yes there are expectations that come with the additions of two former MVPs and five all-stars to the roster in the offseason, but the attitude that this team is under-performing is naïve and ignorant.  The only teams in MLB with more wins than the Phillies’ 28 so far in 2019 are the Yankees (29), Twins (31), Astros (32), and Dodgers (31).  The Phillies’ +31 Runs Differential (Runs Scored versus Runs Against) is third best in the National League, behind the Cubs (+58) and Dodgers (+65).

Are the 2019 Phillies perfect? No, they could definitely benefit from the additions of more pitching for the Starting Rotation and Bullpen.  But the next time you hear anyone complaining about Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutcheon, or the 2019 Phillies, tell them to stop and check the statistics.  Baseball is a game of numbers, is it not?