Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons the Phils Are the NL Favorites
Why is this?
The obvious answer is that the Phillies are the first team to 80 wins and have a 7.5-game lead in the division.
However, here are five more reasons on top of this one relatively obvious statistic as to why the Phillies are the favorites to win the National League.
5. They Are Dominant at Home
As the team with the best record in the National League, the Phillies will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have won slightly more than twice as many games at home this season than lost; they are 44-20 at home right now.
It is also kind of intangible, but Citizens Bank Park always sells out and is full of extraordinarily loud, passionate fans. I realize this is a bit of a generalization, but anybody who has ever been to a ball game there will know it definitely has the potential to be difficult for the other team to play in. I know I am simply going by my impressions from being there, but it makes sense to me.
The Phillies have an excellent home-field advantage by the number of games, as well as the environment.
4. Their Bullpen Will Be Well-Rested
Two of the top 10 pitchers in terms of innings pitched are Phillies; a third is in the top 20.
What this boils down to is that other than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, no team has relied on their starters more than the Phillies to go deep into games.
By the end of the season, players are beginning to get tired. The arms and legs begin to feel heavy. But this will not happen to the Phillies' bullpen, simply because they have not been used heavily throughout the season.
No other National League team will have such a well-rested bullpen in terms of throwing a few innings, and if there is, the Phillies could benefit if one of their starters ever happens to get into a jam.
3. The Phillies Have Been There Before
Many of the Phillies have been in the postseason before; five of their starters (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz) were there when the Phillies won the World Series. They will not be shellshocked or crumble under the pressure from a lack of experience.
Several pitchers (Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton) were there as well when the Phillies were in the World Series.
They know how to win, and perhaps they will also be motivated to prove that last year, when they lost to San Francisco, will not happen again.
2. They Have Amazing Starting Pitching
Let's face it, the Phillies have one of the best (if not the best) rotation in recent memory.
Halladay, Hamels and Lee all deserve consideration in the Cy Young race, and they have been supported by the young Vance Worley, as well as a combination of the often-injured Roy Oswalt and the sometimes-enigmatic Kyle Kendrick.
When the Phillies matchup with anybody else in the National League, they will have more rotation depth than their opponents. This will come into play during Games 3 and 4 in any series. They will need to win these types of games where middle-of-the-rotation pitchers will face off.
The Phillies are as well equipped as anyone to handle these situations.
1. They Have the Star Power
When we are talking about the public opinion, it will tend to favor recognizable names—the Phillies have a lot of these recognizable names.
Even with a basic knowledge of baseball, many of the Phillies have become associated with winning, including Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.
When you add to that all of the trades and free-agent signings,—such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and most recently Hunter Pence—everybody has heard of these important Phillies.
This perception of star power really doesn't matter, and I definitely do not mean to diminish anything that any of the Phillies have done. But I am just saying that in terms of public opinion, having big names means you will be the favorite going into the postseason.
Nevertheless, the Phillies do deserve the recognition they have been getting because they have been playing great ball for most of the season.