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Phillies Capable of Winning World Series with Brutal Offense

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The pitching? Incredible.Four Aces photo: Levon Biss, New York Times

Best team ERA in baseball (3.36)

Lead league in strikeouts

Second best bullpen in majors

Shut out opponents every 9.5 games

The hitting? Well…..

Bottom half of majors in runs scored (9th in NL)

Scored 3 or fewer runs in 47 % of their games ………23-53 record on those 76 games

15th in hitting (.257)

13th in slugging (.408)

21st in walks

Dead last in stolen bases

The formula outlined above is debated on a daily basis as Philadelphia fans and analysts wonder about their team’s World Series potential.

What you probably didn’t realize was that those statistics, while familiar, are not the ones you have watched the Phillies compile through the season’s first seventy-some games.

They are the 2010 totals of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

Remember those guys? They were supposed to be the team the Phillies pushed aside on their path to another World Series appearance, done in by their lack of high profile sluggers and a boring, pitching-heavy roster. One wonders if the Texas Rangers and their fans also found a new appreciation for the Giants’ unsexy approach to winning it all.

Those Giants pitched their way to 92 regular season wins despite scoring three or fewer runs 76 times. Sound like a team you know and love? Maybe it’s because those low scoring affairs have become the norm for the Phillies, who are on pace for 83 such efforts this season.

And while the Giants will be remembered for winning without much offense, they actually went 23-53 when scoring three runs or less, which is actually a little worse than the winning percentage the Phillies are headed for in those games (30-53 if their current pace continues).

Last year’s Giants didn’t exactly pick up the offensive pace in the playoffs, either. They scored three or fewer runs in 9 of their 15 postseason games, but their dominant pitching led them to a 6-3 record in those contests.

So, despite averaging only 4.1 runs per game, the Phillies don’t look much different than the 4.3 runs-per-game Giants of 2010. And the Phils‘ pitching staff is, by all accounts, better than what the Giants featured. Their team ERA is tops in the majors at 2.98. They are also first in shutouts, first in quality starts, second in strikeouts, and have allowed the fewest walks. They have two starters (Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels) on pace for 20 wins and a third (Cliff Lee) who might just join them.

Phillies’ starters have a way of making their bullpen look pretty good, but those relievers have actually been comparable to the terrific crew that the Giants rode throughout the playoffs. Ryan Madson lacks a facial trademark, but his pitching has been every bit as dominant as that of the Giants’ Brian Wilson. Antonio Bastardo has emerged as a situational lefty similar to the Giants’ Javier Lopez, who dominated lefty hitters throughout the playoffs. The Phillies still need to find help for breakthrough reliever Michael Stutes. Whether that help comes from Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge or somewhere else is one of the questions that will be answered in near future.

We can still lament the root canal experience that is the Phillies’ offense, Ryan Howard photo : Perez, APbut we should also remember that last year’s champs had only one player who batted over .300 (Buster Posey). They had only two players surpass 20 homers, and their RBI leader finished the entire season with only 24 more than Ryan Howard woke up with this morning.

Charlie Manuel would love to find a right-handed bat to help breathe some life into his lineup. But if the trade deadline does not provide one, it doesn’t mean that Ruben Amaro is incompetent and the season should be written off.

Manuel’s team must find a way to do what the 2010 Giants did. They need to play their best baseball when it matters most. They need their superstar pitching staff to dominate hitters the way we all envisioned during those giddy pre-season months. Then, the veteran lineup has to respond to the pressure of the postseason. It will take one or two players to get hot in each series for those quality starts to become wins.

Certainly there is a Cody Ross-type player already on the Phillies‘ roster. There are a number of Phillies who have been better than the Giants’ postseason hero for the majority of their careers. A couple of them simply need to elevate their game for a few weeks the way Ross did last fall.

It may not be the path we all hoped the team would take. The Liberty Bell may not be lighting up as often during home games and the fireworks may be limited to the July 4th postgame festivities. But, be honest. Will you turn down a 3-1 winning score in a World Series game?

The Giants certainly didn’t.

 

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net 

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Thumbnail Photo (Ryan Howard): Perez, AP

Interior Photo (Four Aces): Levon Biss, New York Times