Looking toward the MLB All-Star Break is also a time to reflect on a team. A time to ovserve where they have done well, need improvement and what needs to be done to improve their play during the second half of the season.
For the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies, a few things come to mind.
Let's start with some strengths.
First off, the Phillies have been dominant on the road. They have the best road record in the league at 24-9. What more can you say?
Raul Ibanez. Ryan Howard. Chase Utley. The top names of the Phils' offense thus far and have lead the way for the Phillies in most of their games. The offense has been explosive all season.
The Phils have put up 100 total home runs (third in NL), 616 total hits, and are fifth in the Majors and first in the National League with 366 runs scored.
Ibanez, even though currently injured, has been a great addition to the Phillies squad, putting up 22 home runs and 52 RBI. Howard and Utley have combined for 36 homers.
The Phils offense has been fantastic by creating opportunities to lead, while giving them a chance to come from behind and win games if needed.
The Phillies fielding has been great. Only 27 errors so far, everyone on the team contributes on defense.
Whether it be the catchers, who have caught players stealing 19 times so far this season or the fielders, who have put up a .990 fielding percentage. the Phillies defense has been strong thus far.
The Phillies pitching has been the talk of every sports analyst for the past few years. It has struggled. Plain and Simple.
The average ERA for the Phils is 4.73. With closer Brad Lidge and starter Brett Myers gone from injuries, other players have had to step up. Phillies star Pitcher Cole Hamels as put up tons of strikeouts, but the only stat that matters is in the win column, and Hamels only has four out of his thirteen starts.
J.A. Happ has stepped up and played well going 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA. Regardless, the bullpen will need to do better if they want to defend their championship
If the Phillies road record is strength, surely their home record is a weakness. The Phils are one of the worst teams at home, with a record of 13-22.
The only team worse? The Nationals.
The Phils have been plagued with injuries this season. Howard has missed a few due to sickness, Lidge is on the 15-Day DL, though hopefully, he should return within the week. Ibanez is also on the 15-Day DL, and is aiming for an early July return.
A few other players, including Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey and Hamels have also been battling injuries.
How To Improve
So what do the Phillies need to do to improve? Simply?
Play better at home and stay out of injury trouble.
That being said, the Phils are first in the NL East with a 1.5 game lead over the Mets, and are currently the fifth best team in the league.
Look for the Phils to defend their title honorably this season if they can keep up the strengths and improve on their weaknesses.