Any team that allows nearly eight runs per game through its first four games isn’t good. The start of this Philadelphia Phillies‘ season wasn’t expected to feel like a bright red bloodbath, yet it does. Except for Cliff Lee’s impersonation of, well, himself, the beginning of this 2013 baseball year would be an unmitigated disaster.
The reason why everyone’s anxiety will grow if matters persist is because of how the 2011 playoff season ended and because of what transpired last year. Charlie Manuel’s team might ride an upward rebound this year. But, it could also be on the decline. This season will serve as solid proof of which direction the franchise is headed in.
Purely looking at the collective OPS (on base, plus slugging percentage), WHIP (walks, plus hits per innings pitched) and fielding percentage marks of last season’s team, we have a basis to build on. Without needing to explore every sabermetric statistic that exists, these three basic team numbers offer a common sense reflection of the past.
The Phillies’ hitters .716 OPS mark ranked eighth in the National League in 2012. Their pitching staff’s 1.24 WHIP rating ranked fourth in the League, while their defense had a seventh-ranked .983 fielding percentage.
Trying to project realistic numbers into this season is somewhat challenging. However, we can use the digital baseball card history of all newly acquired players and the gut feel that defines our diamond-based humanity as our guides.
This year’s Phillies’ team is simply healthier right now than it was at the same point in time last season. Each of the three team categories that have been cited logically have the potential to be better by season’s end as a result.
This team will not get blown out on a regular basis because the starting pitching staff is still deep enough to throw into, or through, the middle innings.
Mike Adams‘ presence will be felt throughout the spring and summer.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will help the offense to be steadier than it was last season.
While the corner outfield spots and third base are located far from Gold Glove territory, the Phillies remain strong up the middle (catcher, shortstop, second base and center field). As such, the defense will continue to be a plus.
This team has the talent to play slightly above .500 this season. With good fortune and meaningful in-season additions, there’s a chance that it can push toward 90 wins and a playoff berth.
It doesn’t take a statistical genius to realize that these projections are well within reason.