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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

March to Mediocrity... 

I remember writing, a few weeks ago when the Phils were busy trying to hold onto first against the Braves, that I thought that third or even fourth place was a real possibility for this team.

I hate being prescient...

To say that there is a fair amount of cynicism about the Phils right now is ... well, it is the understatement of the year. Phillies fans are pissed right not, and with good reason: tonight's loss, their seventh in a row, to the Astros dropped the Phillies to 59-62, three games under .500 baseball. The Phillies went 1-9 on their home stand.

1-9

That's ridiculous. A team in a pennant race, playing at home, should not drop nine out of ten games. That's lousy coaching. That's lousy leadership.

With the loss the Phils are 10.0 games behind the Braves for the division lead, and 7.0 games behind the Giants for the Wildcard. While it is very much possible for the Phils to make the playoffs (1995 Mariners, anyone?) it isn't likely at all: with the Braves playing terrific post-All Star break baseball and having amassed a fantastic 34-16 record against NL East teams, the Braves are going to win the NL East in a walk.

The wildcard is a better opportunity, but the Phils are chasing too many teams to count on just one collapsing down the stretch.

So how are the Phils likely to end up? The good news is that fifth place won't happen for the Phils. The Expos post-break mark of 19-14 is impressive, but they probably can't catch the Phils for fourth. The bad news is that I'm anticipating a fourth place finish. Sure, they lead the Mets by a game and a half, but I think the Mets will cover that ground and finish in third. If we go by Pythagorean Win-Loss, here are the final results:

Atlanta: 94-68
New York: 83-79
Florida: 82-80
Philadelphia: 80-82
Montreal: 66-96

I'd predict a slightly different order of finish, due to the Braves dramatic surge these last few weeks:

Atlanta: 96-97 wins
Florida: 84-83 wins
New York: 82-80 wins
Philadelphia: 78-80 wins
Montreal: 68-70 wins

The central problem to the Phillies in '04 has been their inability to beat division rivals: 21-30 against the NL East, with a horrific 1-11 record against the Marlins, who dealt what might have been the crushing blow to the Phillies season back in July with a four game sweep in the last week of July. With games against division foes coming hot and heavy in September, the Phillies are trying to scale an insurmountable mountain. It cannot be done.

As for the Phils stats, as I noted the other day, the Thome, Abreu and Burrell have played a declining level of ball since the Break. (David Bell, devoid of admirers amongst Phils bloggers, has been the most consistent of the Phils starters.)

Starters: (GPA / ISO / RC27)
Thome: .336 / .340 / 8.72
Abreu: .325 / .259 / 8.95
Bell: .276 / .167 / 5.67
Burrell: .283 / .196 / 6.20
Rollins: .258 / .138 / 5.41
Polanco: . 255 / .121 / 4.68
Lieberthal: .244 / .159 / 4.10
Byrd: .219 / .094 / 3.28

Bench: (GPA / ISO / RC27)
Michaels: .237 / .089 / 4.10
Glanville: .184 / .045 / 2.20
Utley: .260 / .230 / 5.12
Pratt: .214 / .032 / 2.68
Perez: .227 / .200 / 3.93

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO
RC/27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs): ESPN’s formula for Runs Created is simply too complex for me to replicate easily here. This is their stat based on what a hypothetical team of nine of the same player would score.

I'll stop there for the moment. I think that a fuller, more detailed analysis of what the Phils should do for '05 is needed, but that will take some time. Let's chart the Phils implosion for the next few weeks, and then offer an opinion.



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