Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Realistic Expectations for the "Aging" Lineup
After 11 games of play, the Phillies are 8-3. Collectively, they've hit over .300 as a team—the only lineup in baseball to do so.
Obviously, the bats are eventually going to cool down, but early on we can already somewhat gauge what this offense is going to look like throughout the season.
Let's take a look...
The Phillies Will Not Be Shutout 12 Times
Consistency has been the dilemma when it comes to the Phillies offense in recent years.
The lineup is hot and cold for long stretches at a time. It's relied on power and putting up crooked numbers.
Last year's offense was shutout on an astounding 12 occasions, including a three-game stretch against the lowly Mets.
I expect more consistency this season.
This year's offense is more of a contact offense, and has shown early on that they're capable of playing a little small ball.
Already, they've done a better job of manufacturing runs.
They've been aggressive on the base-paths and at the plate. Charlie Manuel has not been afraid to give his hitters the "green light" in 3-0 counts.
The Phillies Will Finish in the Top 10 in Runs Scored
2010 - 772 runs scored (7)
2009 - 820 runs scored (4)
2008 - 799 runs scored (9)
2007 - 892 runs scored (2)
2006 - 865 runs scored (4)
As you can see, the Phillies have finished in the top 10 in runs scored in each of the past five seasons.
I expect a dip in runs scored this season, but not enough of a drop off to finish outside of the top 10.
Even without Werth and Utley, the Phillies still have weapons—Victorino, Polanco, Rollins and Howard to name a few.
The Phillies Will Finish in the Top 10 in Batting Average
2010 - .260 (12)
2009 - .258 (23)
2008 - .255 (23)
2007 - .274 (10)
2006 - .267 (18)
As I've stated before, the Phillies have a lineup which makes good, crisp contact. This means that more balls will be put in play, resulting in more hits.
In the past five years, Philadelphia has been a squad that swung for the fences. As you see, they've never been a team that hits for average.
I think that changes this year.
The Phillies Will Not Finish in the Top 10 in Home Runs
2010 - 166 (9)
2009 - 224 (3)
2008 - 214 (2)
2007 - 213 (2)
2006 - 216 (4)
Swinging for the fences! It's been the difference maker for the Phillies in years past, but not this year.
As you've read in my previous slides, this is a team that's not going to mash and dash as much as years past. With such a dominant rotation, they don't need to score in bunches anymore.
So far, the Phillies have hit just nine home runs—that's 14th in baseball.
Granted, it is going to get hotter—the balls will start flying out of Citizen's Bank Park. However, I believe the Phillies will fall outside of the top 10 in roundtrippers this year.
What to Expect from Ryan Howard
If you've read my previous Phillies slideshows, you'll notice that I expect Howard to have a monster 2011 season.
He's the key to the success of the offense, especially if Utley misses most of the season.
Howard's got off to a good start and is seeing the ball much better than in years past because he's standing closer to the plate.
He's not a one-dimensional power hitter as he's been in years past, either. Don't be surprised if his name is in the MVP discussion by the end of the season.
I think he gets back near the 140 RBI range, a mark he's eclipsed in four of the past five years.