New faces in new places
If Reds’ fans feel bad about the baseball they’ve endured over the past 5 years, they are likely to receive little sympathy from Phillies’ fans. Entering 2019, the Philadelphia Phillies (35-27) have missed the playoffs for 7 consecutive seasons and have finished at least 10 games back in each year in that stretch. In fact, the Phillies finished at least 23 games back in 5 straight seasons from 2013-2017.
Give the Phillies front office credit. Following a collapse in the second half of last year, the team has gone all in for 2019 and nothing short of the playoffs is going to be acceptable in the land of the Liberty Bell. Judging by the acquisitions the team has made since the end of the 2018 campaign, the front office has given Philadelphia easily their best team since the 2011 squad that captured the NL East.
Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Jay Bruce along with the now-injured Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson have all made their debuts in Philly this season. The early results indicate October baseball may be returning to the City of Brotherly Love.
Despite all the new additions to a core consisting of Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco, the offense has been surprising underwhelming thus far. Entering play Thursday, Philadelphia ranked 12th in the senior circuit in home runs with 74 and their batting average of .245 is 11th in the league.
It must be the pitching that has the Phillies in first place, right? Well, not so fast. Philadelphia’s hurlers have been average at best and they’ve surrendered the most home runs (99) among all staffs in the NL. So exactly how are the Phillies in first place?
For starters, they’ve been dominant at home winning 20 of 31 games and they have taken care of business within the division. The Phillies have compiled an 8-2 record against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. Taking care of business at home and winning within the division is a recipe for success.