Friday, August 20, 2004
According to my SI I got today (er, yesterday), the Phils have posted worse records in the second-half of all four of Bowa's seasons as skipper:
Pre-All Star: 187-165 (.531)
Post: 124-127 (.494)
Anyone a big history buff? I'm a big fan of the History Channel's Decisive Battles. It is an interesting program where they break down battles from history (and because they concentrate on the Ancient World, these are conflicts that most people are only dimly aware of) and show how they unfolded via detailed, computer game simulations of the battles. It's interesting stuff. Check it out.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
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.
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:
New York: 83-79
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.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
What I am not sorry missing has been the Phils frankly awful play. Bill at Phillies Fan is willing to say stick a fork in them, and I cannot say that I disagree. I doubt that the playoffs will happen, but it is unlikely that the Phils can catch up to the Cubs, Pads and G-men.
I am willing to say that I am certain that the Braves have won their umpteenth division title since '91.
What happened? Basically, the same thing as last year: the stronger part of the pre-break Phils team collapsed after the All-Star break and the team imploded. Last year the team went 34-36 after the break and saw the pitching staff's ERA's and WHIP's balloon dramatically after the pitchers had carried the team. This year the offense, which had covered up big problems with the Phils hurlers, has bottomed out:
Pre break GPA: .267
Post break GPA: .245
We had hoped that the pitching staff would improve after the All-Star Game, but this team has played badly in all phases of the game since the All-Star Break. Here are the numbers since the All-Star Game:
Phillies Record: 13-19
(Atlanta: 22-9; Florida: 14-16; Mets: 12-18; Expos: 18-13)
Home Runs: 39; 7th in NL
OBP: .319; 13th in NL
SLG: .406; 13th in NL
Runs: 131; 13th in NL
RC27: 4.48; 13th in NL
ISO: .154; 11th in NL
BB/PA: .084; 11th in NL
WHIP: 1.37; 9th in NL
ERA: 4.91; 13th in NL
Starters: (Post-All Star Break)
Thome: .286 / .255
Abreu: .286 / .248
Bell: .244 / .037
Burrell: .227 / .155
Rollins: .285 / .207
Polanco: .285 / .139
Lieberthal: .221 / .105
Byrd: .204 / .091
Michaels: .155 / .064
Glanville: .201 / .053
Utley: .262 / .243
Pratt: .280 / .000
Perez: .155 / .152
Team: .245 / .154
Declines: Pat Burrell's return to 2003 form in July and June are well-documented. Abreu and Thome have fallen off too:
GPA: .340 - .286 = .054 decline
ISO: .263 - .248 = .015 decline
GPA: .346 - .286 = .060 decline
ISO: .364 - .248 = .116 decline
After relying on Jim Thome to carry this team, it finally looks like the strain is catching up to #25.
I'm tempted to do a post-mortem now, but I think we'll just let the season play out and commence the bitch sessions in the off-season. I will announce that I'm going to start working on The Bird Blog a little more now.