Philadelphia Phillies Closer Jonathon Papelbon was correct when he said that last year’s Phillies team lacked leadership.
“Since I’ve been here I haven’t seen any leadership, Every good team that I’ve been a part of has had a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that’s a recipe for success, But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don’t go out and do what we’re capable of and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose.”
Papelbon was correct about the 2012 team, sure. On the other hand, things got out of control so fast in 2012 I don’t think it would have made a difference if there were a vocal leader. A vocal leader can’t drive in 113.4 runs per year with his voice like Ryan Howard has since 2008, nor can a voice win 20 games or earn a Gold Glove through good intent.
In the past we’ve seen Jimmy Rollins step into the vocal leadership role, and Chase Utley and Roy Halladay have lead by example. The problem in 2012 was, Rollins never stepped into his role, Utley was injured and could not lead, nor could Halladay, who was caught off guard by his flagging performance and spent the season trying to keep his head above water.
I think Papelbon was correct in his assessment that there was no 2012 leadership, but I don’t think that there needs to be one for the Phillies to have success in 2013. The entire infield has extensive World Series and playoff experience (Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz and four of the five starting pitchers, and even the back end of the bullpen). They all know what needs to be done to win, and can lead the inexperienced players by example, but only if they’re healthy, which I think is more important than vocal leadership.
The Phillies did not have a vocal leader in 2012, but that does not mean they need one in 2013 to be successful.