Philadelphia Phillies: Still World Series Favorite for Good Reason

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIMay 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: Philadelphia Phillies Shane Victorino carries the World Series Trophy at a victory rally at Citizens Bank Park October 31, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay  Rays to win their first World Series in 28 years. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

This letter is a follow up to an article I wrote before the season began. This letter is again intended for all players, coaches, trainers and fans of the National League, but most importantly for the Phillies Phaithful:

Dear National League,

The Phillies currently have the best record in your league at 29-19, and they have done so without a myriad of injuries to some of their top players.

Chase Utley (until now) Brad Lidge, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton (not a bad thing), Roy Oswalt and Carlos Ruiz have all missed significant time due to injuries thus far. While some of these players may be more important than others to this team's world title hopes, all of their time inactive can obviously play a role on a team's W-L record.

National League, Phillies Nation still finds your tireless efforts to spark fear into the most anticipated sports season in Philadelphia history comical. The Phillies have already gone through an entire month of baseball without scoring more than three runs, but they still have played front-runners in the "extremely tough" NL East.

I still find it hard to believe that people are hating on the Phillies for not resigning Jayson Werth. Sorry National League, but we have enough corner outfielders hitting .240 for us right now.

Ruben Amaro realizes that teams are just as strong as their starting pitching, and he has built the best starting rotation in Major League Baseball.

All journalists out there, save your time and efforts. You will not stop 45,000 of the most passionate fans in sports from cramming Citizens Bank Park every game. Philadelphia fans have sold out over 145 straight games, and don't expect that streak to stop any time soon.

Also, if you are a bit skeptical about Phillies fans being the best fans in sports, be your own judge as they will be taking over your team's stadium when the "Phightins" are in town.

National League, I can understand why you have dedicated so much of your time into proclaiming why the Phillies will not win the World Series. If I had to face the rotation they had, I would be worried as well.

"Your pitching is already showing signs of breaking down and that will only continue over the grind of a 162-game season."

National League, excuse me if I disagree with your sentiments. The team has three pitchers who have consistently logged over 200 innings and another who is in the best shape of his life and has done so twice already.

Even with Joe Blanton being injured and Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick making spot starts, they have combined for a record of 22-14 with a 3.16 ERA. They have averaged 6.5 innings per start.

They have only given up 285 hits in 310 innings pitched. Chew on this National League: Phillies starters have only allowed 109 earned runs in over 300 innings. I will go into battle with that in a shortened series any day, National League.

The Phillies starting five have an incredible K/9 ratio of 8.62 and a WHIP of 1.15.

Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Lee have warrior-type mentalities and they realize that this team may be their best chance to win (another in Hamels' case) a World Series. The Phillies were smart to build their team around four of the top 15 starting pitchers in the game.

"Your starting pitching will break down." Sorry National League, but I'm not buying what your selling and neither is Phillies Nation.

  • Confident that they are the team to beat

  • Worried about the injuries

  • Scared by other teams in the NL

  • Scared by other teams in the AL


"Your lineup obviously misses Werth and Utley is not the same player, so your offense will struggle all year long."

National League, I would again like to point out that Mr. Werth is currently batting in the .240 range and our most valued prospect in Domonic Brown is gaining invaluable on the job training as we speak at the Major League level.

The Phillies are in the bottom eight in scoring in MLB, but their lineup has a different look it to now. Utley, Brown and a healthy Shane Victorino will provide the much needed help and balance Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard need to produce runs.

By the way National League, I remember the Phillies having a pretty poor offense last season as well. That didn't stop the Phil's O from having the best team batting average in the NL East (fourth in NL), the most runs scored in the NL East (second in NL) and the most home runs in the NL East (fifth in NL).

Sorry, National League, I still fail to see your point on why Phillies fans should be panicking.

"Lidge is still out until who knows, the bullpen is shaky, and your starters can't pitch complete games every time out."

National League, seriously? Ryan Madson is perfect in save opportunities this season thus far, and Jose Contreras was as well before he went on the Disabled List. Consequently, the Phillies are unbeaten when leading after eight innings this season. 

Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Oswalt have shown throughout their careers that they can pitch deep into games, and the Phillies bullpen has gone from a question mark to a team strength.

Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes and Ryan Madson have been as reliable as it gets from the back-end. Between those two and a shortened season for Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras, Philadelphia should be very confident that they five guys that can get the job done out of the 'pen.

"The Braves and Marlins both have starting rotations that can match up in a playoff series with Philadelphia's."

Again National League, I fail to see your logic on that one either. None of those other rotations can boast a resume that includes 10 top-five finishes in Cy Young award voting, three actual Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star selections, six 20-win seasons, three postseason MVP awards and a 20-8 postseason record.

The Braves starting rotation has combined for a 19-15 record with a with a 3.22 ERA, pretty solid numbers (not as solid as Philadelphia). There K/9 ratio is less than the Phillies as well at 6.92.

How would the Braves match up with the Phillies in a playoff series? We know who would be pitching the first couple of games for the Phillies, as Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels have all been dominant in their respective playoff careers.

I can see the questions being raised by the few fans Atlanta does have right now. Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy all have better ERAs than Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson, the guys you would expect to be pitching the first two games of a playoff series.

They can debate all season long who will start the first two games of a playoff series, but they better make the playoffs first. The Phillies have won four straight NL East titles and have the core group of players in their clubhouse that do whatever it takes to win. 

National League, the Phillies are the best team in the NL East. The rest of the year will be a race for second.

All of this talk about Atlanta has not died down even with the Phillies having the best record n the NL. Atlanta, let's worry about catching the Florida Marlins first.

"The Giants beat you guys in the NLCS and they will do it again with a comparable rotation and a better lineup."

At least the Atlanta Braves being a factor in the 2011 playoffs is not being argued anymore. Onto the Giants...

The Giants play in arguably the worst division in baseball, the NL West. If you think Phillies offense has been dreadful this season, the Giants would love to have the Phillies lineup.

The Giants are 29th overall in runs scored, 24th in batting average, 25th in on-base percentage, and 23rd in slugging percentage.

Comparing those same statistics to the Phillies would look like this: 20th, 17th, 20th, 22nd. National League, those numbers seem to indicate that the Phillies have the better lineup don't they?

Those numbers were compiled without Chase Utley and Domonic Brown—still feeling confident, San Fran?

With last year's playoff series in mind, I'd still rather have the Phillies lineup than the Giants. Rollins, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Victorino, Brown and Ruiz are more potent than Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Posey, Burrell, Sandoval, Tejada and Ross, are they not?

The Giants deserve a lot of credit for winning it all last season, but they did beat the Phillies with Cody Ross and Pat Burrell playing out of their minds down the stretch. The two have come back down to earth this season. Do we really expect these two players to duplicate 2010?

National League, I still feel pretty confident with the Halladay vs. Burrell or Ross matchup. The Lee vs. Burrell or Ross ain't too shabby either. Oswalt, Hamels vs...well you get the picture.

"The Phillies are not the team they used to be, and this is the year they miss the playoffs."

National League, something needs to be said about the character and chemistry of this team. The city of Philadelphia has fallen in love with this core group of players for many reasons, but I will only mention three.

1. They play the game the right way. For example, people are telling Chase Utley that he needs to change the way he plays. Chase Utley only knows one speed (even to a fault)—100 mph.

2. They give 110 percent every game. Blue-collared Philadelphia loves that their baseball team plays so hard for 162 games.

3. Their best players have legendary work ethics. Enough said.

The Philadelphia Phillies are still the favorites to win the World Series, and for good reason.

Phillies fans can still remember where they were the night the Phillies beat the Rays in 2008  They can still picture what they were doing when they woke up on that Tuesday morning of Dec. 14 and heard that Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees to rejoin our beloved ballclub and give us the greatest Christmas present we ever could have dreamed of.

National League, these are the things that the Philadelphia Phillies have given their city. There is a reason why Vegas picked Philadelphia as the team to beat this season.

There is a reason why ESPN has had the Phillies in the top three in their power rankings all season (no other team can say that). They have the best pitching from top-to-bottom in Major League Baseball and a lineup filled with players that play their best when the lights shine the brightest.  

Philadelphia is still being told that their team is filled with flaws. "Their offense is inadequate, their bullpen is young and inexperienced and their manager makes horrible decisions."

One more time Philadelphia, I say to hell with that. Let us continue to enjoy the fact that we have the team that has won the NL East four straight seasons, and has one of the greatest starting rotations (on paper) in MLB history.

A rotation where three of those four pitchers CHOSE to play in Philadelphia in front of you.

The Phillies have had the best record in the National League almost the entire season thus far. Enjoy this season Philadelphia, and don't worry too much about all of the "haters."

The Phillies will shut them up in October.


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