At the beginning of the 2011 season, most baseball fans were quite willing to give the Philadelphia Phillies the National League East division crown before a game was even played. Unfortunately for the City of Brotherly Love, titles are won, not given.
Although the season has not been perfect, shades of what Philadelphia could be have been seen around the diamond. Their four aces, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, have all pitched marquee games. The offense, headlined by two studs in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, has also produced, as Philadelphia remains aggressive on the basepaths and continues to come through with the long ball. With Chase Utley, arguably their best player, returning this week, everything looks to be headed in the right direction.
But there will be plenty of obstacles for them to cross before they reach the playoffs. Most ominously, their rivals to the south, the Atlanta Braves, are arguably just as talented, just as deep, and just as hungry for another berth in the postseason.