On a cold, February morning, I proposed 33 over-under proposition bets to keep the Philadelphia Phillies season interesting.
Truth be told, for baseball lifers like yours truly, baseball is always fascinating, and the Florida Marlins, the Atlanta Braves and the ever-busy Disabled List have all kept things quite interesting so far.
How interesting? With their 5-4 Memorial Day matinee win over the Nationals, the Phils stand at 34-20, which is the best record in baseball. They have done so despite a rash of injuries that may have buried a lesser team.
With 54 games in the books, exactly two-thirds of the season remains to be played. This seems like a fun time to re-examine those 33 over-and-unders I proposed while awaiting Spring Training.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS
1. Combined wins by R2C2 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels): 71
With Halladay's win over the Nats, R2C2 now has combined for 21 wins against 11 losses. That puts them on pace for 63 wins. This should come down to the wire, as an injury to Oswalt and very poor run support for—especially—Lee, have deflated this number a bit.
2. Combined innings by R2C2: 850
Halladay (a National League-leading 91.1), Lee (74.2) and Hamels (74.2) all rank in the top six in this category. Injuries have reduced Oswalt's workload to 45 innings. Collectively, they have pitched 285.2 innings, which puts them on pace for 855.6. They're just over the pace needed.
3. Combined strikeouts for R2C2: 800
The three healthy pitchers are all in contention for the strikeout crown; Oswalt has some catching up to do. Collectively, they have fanned 284 hitters, which projects to a most impressive 852. They're striking out a man per inning, while yielding very few walks.
4. Combined complete games for R2C2: 20
Halladay looks like he's going to lead the majors in this category again, and is setting a great pace with four. Lee and Hamels have one apiece, which puts R2C2 on pace for 18.
5. Wins by Joe Blanton in a Phils uniform: 6
I proposed this more as a nod to trade rumors than to concerns over Big Joe's injuries and ineffectiveness. Blanton his the one-third pole with one victory in his six starts. This, of course, puts him on target for three wins.
6. Saves for Brad Lidge: 33
Ouch. Injuries have kept the—erstwhile?—closer on the DL all season; you do the math. However, Ryan Madson is on pace for 36.
7. Batting average for Carlos Ruiz: .285
Coming off a .302 season, this seemed like a compromise projection for the career .259 hitter. Ruiz is only batting .250 so far, but don't count him out just yet.
8. Homers for Chooch: 11
Chooch is only on pace for six, but has missed a bunch of games. I still like this number.
THE REST OF THE LINEUP
9. Home runs for Ryan Howard: 44
Howard's 12 homers—he's already pushed Ruiz's prop bet—has him on pace for 36.
10. RBI for Howard: 136
The Big Piece is vying for the league lead with 42, which projects to 126. He has done so despite being surrounded by an erratic, ever-changing lineup.
Howard's 65 whiffs—projects to 195—make 200 a possibility.
12. Games played for Chase Utley: 145
Oh well, this one's down the drain. Utley has now played in seven of 54 games, Would you believe 100?
13. Homers for Chase: 28
Chase has launched one so far, but if he gets really, really hot...
14. HBP for Chase: 23
Utley led the league each year from 2007 thru 2009. He's been plunked once already, and Phillies fans hope he does not even approach this number.
15. Games played for Jimmy Rollins: 145
Jimmy's been healthy so far, only missing one game. I don't think he'll keep up this (159 game) pace, but he has a very good chance of hitting the over here.
16. Runs scored for Jimmy: 105
His 30 runs project to 90. If he stays healthy, and patient, he can do it. He is on pace for 69 walks, which would set a career high.
This looks like a good number. Rollins has swiped 12 bases, which projects to 36.
18. Placido Polanco’s batting average: .300
Polly has cooled off from his torrid start, but still stands at a very nice .317.
19. Will Polanco reach 2,000 career hits before or after September 15?
Placido has 66 hits and 1902 total. This one should be very close to the pin.
20. Games played for Wilson Valdez: 55
I think Valdez has this one cinched. His 45 games project to 135, and even if Utley and Rollins never sit out, he may get 11 more appearances as a reliever.
21. Will Raul Ibanez finish the season in a Phillies uniform?
At first glance, Ibanez' detractors would ask "Who needs him?" On second glance, the Philies do, at least for 2011.
22. RBI for Raul: 90
Don't laugh just yet. On May 1, Ibanez was batting .154. Now, he's at a respectable .246, and on pace to knock in 87 runs. it's been a great battle back for the for true professional.
23. Batting average for Shane Victorino: .285
Yet another Phillie on the DL, Shane is hitting .284.
24. Homers for Shane: 13
Although he's already missed 15 games, the Flyin' Hawaiian has popped six, which projects to his tying his career mark of 18, set last year.
25. At-bats for Domonic Brown: 250
That infamous Hook of Hamate injury has limited Brown to 29 MLB at-bats so far.
26. Homers for D-Brown: 14
He has not launched any so far.
27. Games played for Ben Francisco: 115
This one will be interesting. His 48 games project to 144, but will he play well enough to stay in the everyday lineup?
28. Ben’s batting average: .270
Francisco hit .268 last season, but carries a .229 BA thus far.
29. Homers for Ross Gload: 8
In limited duty, Gload has not put any in the seats so far. In fairness to him, I'm not counting foul balls, or homers rocketed in BP.
30. Total Wins in 2011: 100
Somewhat amazingly, this collection of the walking wounded is now on pace to win 102 games.
31. Games ahead at the All-Star break: 4
The Phils are two-and-a-half games ahead of the Marlins (in action Monday night; this one also figures to be close.
32. Games the Phils will win the NL East by: 7
With that two-and-a-half game lead, they are on pace to win by seven-and-a-half games.
33. Games the Phils will finish ahead of the New York Mets: 13
In February, I wrote: It was a margin of 18 last year, but can the Mets be that bad again?
Well, the Phillies are on pace to win 102, and the Mets project to win about 75. So, I guess they can be that bad.
To summarize, other than the projections that were destroyed by injuries, a majority of these propositions will come right down to the wire. Would you have it any other way?