From the start, this Phillies season was no fairy tale. No Ryan Howard, no Chase Utley and an offense full of old, replacement-level players is not the way a 102-win team looked to come back from a disappointing NLDS loss. But few people could have predicted the painful, train-wreck of a season the Phillies have had thus far.
After 63 games, the Phillies find themselves, miraculously, just five games under .500, but 9.5 games out of first place in the NL East. But that’s not the worst part. Roy Halladay injured himself in mid-May and Cliff Lee is win-less through 10 starts despite a 3.18 ERA. But that’s not the worst part. The Phillies are 5-11 in one-run games, 2-6 in extra inning games and the largest deficit they have climbed out of is two runs. Throw in the fact that there is not a single exciting player on the offensive side of the ball and only one position player that is even close to deserving of being an all-star and you have nearly unwatchable baseball.
There are some bad teams that are decent or even fun to watch. Take the Oakland A’s for example. Are they nine games under .500? Sure, but at least they have international import Yoenis Cespedes, a fun to watch centerfielder and Josh Reddick, who is having an all-star worthy year in right field. On top of that, the A’s have one of the most promising minor-league systems in baseball, so at least there is hope for the future.
Unlike Oakland, however, the have no great minor-league system. They have two truly all-star worthy players, but one is Cole Hamels, someone whose success relies on other players. The other is Carlos Ruiz and neither he nor Hamels plays everyday. To make matters worse, the Phillies just don’t have any exciting players that instill confidence at the plate. Sure, Victorino and Pence are good players, but Pence has had major troubles both in the field and at bat, having already hit into nine double plays. Victorino is not having a good year either, batting just .253 with an unimpressive OPS of .744. But the most important difference between the Phillies and the A’s? The A’s weren’t favorites to win their division and possibly compete for a World Series title.
That’s what makes this season the worst. The Phillies had very high standards, rightfully so with some of the best starting pitchers in baseball. But as the Phillies pitching has gotten better, so has the pitching from the rest of the league and at this point, a team of wash-ups and constantly injured players just won’t cut it.
There is no point in giving up hope in the Phillies; there is no place to go but up from last place. But this team is tough to watch, never keeping leads, rarely coming back from deficits and finding themselves down in close games. On top of all of this though, when watching a Phillies game, you have to put up with the unintelligible blabber of Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler.
While watching the Phillies will always be a priority, the Phillies losses and the way they have suffered these losses just makes the team worse and worse to watch.