Philadelphia Phillies: First-Half Awards and Second-Half Predictions
The Philadelphia Phillies entered the All-Star break with a shockingly bad record of 37-50, which puts them 14 games back in the division and 10 games back in the Wild Card.
If you would have told me that this would be the case before the season started, I would have laughed in your face.
I mean, look at the talent.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels should be the best top three starters on any team in baseball. Instead, the team has a 4.23 ERA, which ranks 22nd in the league.
The offense should be hitting better with runners in scoring position, as the Phillies rank 15th in the league in runs scored with 368.
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back, which gives Phillies fans some hope, but it will take a whole lot of improvement and even more luck for this team to get into the playoffs.
A lot of things aren't going according to plan for the Phightin' Phils, which makes midseason awards a bit of a challenge, but I gave it my best effort.
Most Valuable Player
It's a shame that the Phillies can't be winning more ballgames for Ruiz. He deserves better.
Ruiz is hitting a team-leading .350 and has 13 home runs and 46 RBI, both second best on the team. He has been by far the best player on the team all year and earned his first-ever All-Star spot.
I'll be amazed if Chooch keeps going at this pace, but he has been the most consistent player on the team without a doubt.
Least Valuable Player
Victorino has hurt the Phillies in more ways than one.
He's hitting a career-worst .245 and has been incapable of driving in runs in the clutch. He's also been poor on the basepaths and could very well be on his way out of Philadelphia.
With the season that Victorino is having, he's also hurting his trade value. The Phillies need to get some young talent in return for him if they're going to trade him, but based on how he's performing, teams won't be willing to part with top prospects to get him.
Another player who may be on his way out of Philadelphia is the best pitcher that the Phillies have.
Cole Hamels leads the team with 10 wins, a 3.20 ERA and 118 strikeouts. With Cliff Lee's inconsistency and Roy Halladay's injury, it's been up to Hamels to keep this rotation intact, and he's done a great job in his starts all year.
The Phillies may trade him before the deadline, but the fans hope that he will remain a member of the team for a long time.
Most Overrated Player
Papelbon found his way onto the All-Star team thanks to his 18 saves in 20 opportunities, but every time he comes into a game, Phillies fans are on the edge of their seats wondering if he'll be the old Papelbon, or if he'll continue the recent Philadelphia bullpen struggles.
Papelbon's ERA is 3.34, tied with former Phillies pitcher and current Astros closer Brett Myers. He's also given up 29 hits in 32.1 innings pitched, giving him a WHIP of 1.14.
Papelbon needs to be more consistent in his role if this team wants any chance of coming back.
Most Underrated Player
As reported by the Inquirer, the trade talks have already started about Hunter Pence, but he is a key piece for this team.
Pence is hitting a respectable .285 and leads the team with 16 home runs (eighth in NL) and 50 RBI (14th in NL). He also has an on-base percentage of .352.
Pence has struggled with runners in scoring position, but he is a great player and you have to think he'll come around eventually. He hit .314 and drove in 97 runs last year, and he drove in 91 runs in 2010.
He's been the second-best player in the Phillies' lineup and they need to hold onto him.
June 23rd vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Phillies went into the ninth inning against the Rays with a 6-4 lead when Jonathan Papelbon surrendered two runs, which tied the game.
According to the Delco Times, he then offered $5,000 to anybody who could get a walk-off hit, and Jim Thome delivered.
The man who is beloved in Philadelphia launched a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the first at-bat of the bottom of the ninth inning.
The walk-off hit made Thome the all-time leader in the category, passing players like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Stan Musial.
July 5th vs. New York Mets
The Phillies took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, and closer Jonathan Papelbon came into the game to try to lock up the Phillies' win.
The inning started off with a double by Ike Davis, who got to third after a sacrifice bunt by Josh Thole. Papelbon struck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and it looked like the game was over.
Then, Papelbon beaned pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin and walked Ruben Tejada.
Roger Cedeno scored on a ball that was misplayed by Papelbon to tie the game. Then, David Wright singled to score Valdespin and put the Phillies 10 games under .500.
The Phillies will need some magic to make the 2012 playoffs.
They have 75 games left in the season, and to get to .500 they'll need to win 44 of those games.
I think the Phillies go 40-35 in the second half, finish with a record of 77-85 and leave the city craving the start of the Flyers' season.