The Philadelphia Phillies have arguably their greatest team in their entire 127 year history of a franchise and they have never entered a postseason with higher expectations. The Phillies have the best starting rotation in baseball and a lineup that has a ton of experience when the games matter most.
The Phillies should certainly feel prepared for the postseason as each game at Citizens Bank Park is sold-out and has a playoff feel to it. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (including the World Series) and the best team in baseball equate to a World Series or bust 2011 October/November.
Charlie Manuel knows this team so well and the Phillies have proven that they have what it takes to win it all. Here is a prediction of the Phillies' starting postseason lineup.
Leading off for the Philadelphia Phillies and playing shortstop is guess who? Of course it's Jimmy Rollins. Rollins desire of a five-year contract may be his calling card out of town, but I'm all for one more go-round in October with J-Roll.
For whatever the reason is, if Jimmy Rollins is getting on base and causing havoc, the Phillies win. It's that simple. Rollins is a clutch hitter in the playoffs and he still is a Gold Glove caliber shortstop.
This could be the last time we see J-Roll in a Phillies uniform. Why not have the best SS in Phillies history leave with another World Series ring?
It would certainly lessen the blow for Phillies Nation.
Chase Utley was moved to the two-hole on September 25 for a reason, he will be in that spot for the postseason. He may be on the downside of his career, but that doesn't mean he can't have a monster playoffs.
And then all will be forgotten.
Utley did have five HR in the World Series against the New York Yankees back in 2009, tying a record held by Reggie Jackson. He has seven HR total in 11 World Series games.
Utley is already the greatest 2B ever to play for the Phillies and he may be the most beloved player in team history. He is as tough as they come and for that reason there's not many players I'd rather have on my postseason roster.
In baseball you are supposed to hit your best hitter third and that is what the Philadelphia Phillies are doing with Hunter Pence. Pence brought the raw emotion and passion back to this ball-club when he was acquired at the trade deadline and he is ready to shine in the postseason.
Pence was the perfect addition to this lineup and he certainly has Phillies Nation thinking, "Jayson Werth who?" Pence is 13-41 (.317) in his career against Game One starter Kyle Lohse.
Let's go win a World Series and then, "Let's go eat!"
Ryan Howard is the "big piece" to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup and he isn't afraid to hit with the game on the line. Philadelphia will never forget Howard's, "Get me to the plate" attitude.
The addition of Hunter Pence finally gives Howard the protection he lacked for the first half of the season and he is ready to roll in October. A postseason resume that includes a .382 OBP, 7 HR and 27 RBI signify just that.
Howard is ready to put the demons of last season (and Brian Wilson's beard) behind him.
He is 8 for 16 with 2 HR and 8 RBI against Lohse. Oh yeah.
Charlie Manuel is as loyal as they come and Raul Ibanez has swung a pretty hot bat the last month. Those two things mean that Raul Ibanez will start and hit fifth Game One against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Raul has had a good season power wise with 20 HR and 84 RBI and he is one of the classiest guys in baseball. Ibanez could be another guy that won't receive a new contract and what better way to go out then on top?
Raul has 3 HR and 9 RBI in just 33 at-bats against Game One starter Kyle Lohse.
The Flyin' Hawaiian Shane Victorino may be the Philadelphia Phillies everyday MVP this season. He has hit for average and power and wreaked havoc on the base-paths. Philadelphia can always expect a Gold Glove effort out of Victorino and his speed and quickness allow him to take away so many hits.
6 HR and 28 RBI for Victorino in the playoffs and the confidence from Phillies Nation that he will get the job done in the clutch. That'll do Shane, that'll do.
Placido Polanco has not been the same hitter the second half of the season but that doesn't mean he won't break out in Game One. Don't agree? Well, he is 10-28 (.357) against Kyle Lohse in his career.
He still plays a terrific 3B and many teams would love to have a hitter as experienced as Polanco in the seven hole. He has played in 33 postseason games and has a .273/.344/.309 line.
Senor Octubre Carlos Ruiz has become a fan favorite in Philadelphia largely because of his clutch hitting in the postseason. He has a playoff average of .280 with 4 HR and 15 RBI.
He is such a security blanket for the best rotation in baseball (and Charlie Manuel) and he will be the calming influence that Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo will need in a big situation.
Chooch has had a terrific season and Philadelphia doesn't expect anything other than clutch from No. 51.
Bring it on St. Louis, bring it on.