The baseball gods have been plotting against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since day one of spring training, the baseball gods have unleashed a series of plagues upon the Phillies to ensure that Charlie Manuel's squad will not win their sixth straight National League East title.
First came the plague of injury.
By the middle of spring training, the Phillies learned that they would be without their No. 3 and 4 hitters until at least June. After setbacks to both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, a lat strain to ace Roy Halladay, season-ending injuries to the arms of key members of the bullpen and nagging injuries to other starters and role players, the Phillies sit dead last in the NL East standings with a 37-50 mark at the break.
While major injuries to a team's three best players is usually back-breaking, it takes much more to KO this Phillies club.
Just look back at the 2011 season. The Phillies suffered numerous injuries and had to place Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton and Domonic Brown on the DL at some point during the season. Putting all these disadvantages aside, the Phillies incredibly managed to win a club-record 102 games.
But in the 2012 season, the baseball gods conjured up more than just injuries to torment the Phillies.
The second plague was to punish the Phillies for mediocrity.
In most instances, mediocre teams have middle-of-the-pack team stats when compared to the rest of the league. Mediocre stats usually translate to records around .500, the epitome of average teams.
On paper, the Phillies look like an average team.
With the bats, Philly ranks 19th for OPS, tied for 16th in home runs and are even tied for ninth in batting average.
With the arms, the Phils are 22nd in ERA, second in strikeouts and second in walks allowed.
However, in this odd instance, the Phillies' mediocre stats do not translate to a record close to .500.
So what is the reason for the Phillies having the seventh-worst record in the league if they have average hitting and even above-average pitching?
With the stats the Phillies show, the baseball gods have undoubtedly cursed their record from one that should be hovering around .500 to a dreadful 13 games below.
Average stats should translate to average records, but unfortunately, the Phillies are experiencing being the outlier in the data.
If these troubles weren't bad enough, the final plague sent from the baseball gods is now forcing the Phillies to dig their own graves: misleading run differentials.
With the average statistics gathered from the Phillies' first 87 games, this team should theoretically have a run differential close to zero.
Once again, the Phillies got the bad end of the deal, with their run differential currently residing at minus-28.
But this is only where the bad luck begins.
For the Phillies to be 13 games under .500 and only having scored 28 less runs than their opponents is incredibly unlucky.
The baseball gods have pinpointed the Phillies as the team to pick on this year, while letting other teams with similar run differentials enjoy success.
The Giants, who have a minus-eight run differential, find themselves six games over .500 and a half game out of first place in the NL West.
The Indians enjoy their cushy second-place seat in the standings at three games over .500 despite having a run differential of minus-29.
The Orioles have a run differential of minus-36 for crying out loud, yet they have their best shot of making the playoffs in years with a record of 45-40.
With the Phillies losing just about every close game in the first half, odds are this trend will even out in the latter part of the season.
Even still, the baseball gods have caused enough damage to the Phillies' first half that the season can now be looked at as a lost cause.
With all of the bad luck cursed upon the Phillies this first half, it would take miracle luck for the Phillies to reverse ship in the second half.
The odds of this reversal of luck are minimal, yet then again, so were the odds that a team with all indicators pointing to a .500 record being off to such a horrendous first-half start.
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