Phillies = 10 Bottom Dwellers

The Phillies are the best team in baseball this season. Their pitching staff is amazing and the hitters are good. Here is a look at how many bad teams would need to be combined to make a team that would be comparable to the Phillies in talent.

Note: The WAR values used in the article are from 9/21 have changed a bit since I collected the data.

I started by looking at just the WAR production from the position-player starters on the Phillies. Also, I took the top-five starters and relievers. Here is the list of Phillies and their WAR:

Position Players (Total WAR = 25.7 WAR)
Carlos Ruiz (2.7)
Ryan Howard (1.6)
Chase Utley (3.7)
Placido Polanco (2.9)
Jimmy Rollins (3.5)
Hunter Pence (4.3)
Shane Victorino (6)
Raul Ibanez (-1.2)
John Mayberry (2.2)

Starting Pitching (Total WAR = 24.6 WAR)
Roy Halladay (8.0)
Cliff Lee (6.7)
Cole Hamels (5.0)
Roy Oswalt (2.3)
Vance Worley (2.6)

Relievers (Total WAR = 2.0 WAR)
Ryan Madson (1.6)
Kyle Kendrick (0.3)
Michael Stutes (-0.2)
Antonio Bastardo (0.9)
David Herndon (-0.6)

The total, at the time I collected the data, was 52.3 WAR. Then, I started adding players to get a similar team based on their 2011 WAR totals. Once one of the three categories — hitters, starters or relievers — was filled, I quit looking for more players in that category. I figured the talent pool could only get better, but at that point, the new team was comparable.

I wanted the individual players to be close in 2011 WAR. Meeting this requirement was tough with the starting pitching since the Phillies had a couple of the leagues top pitchers (Halladay and Lee). I just looked to get the total WAR for this group close.

I ordered the teams by record and used this order to select players:
Houston
Minnesota
Baltimore
Seattle
San Diego
Chicago (Cubs)
Kansas City
Pittsburgh
Oakland
Colorado
Florida

The first group to fill up was the relievers. I expected it to fill up with only one or two teams. After looking at Minnesota and Houston, I only had one reliever over 0.9 WAR, so it took three teams to get the comparable bullpen.

Glen Perkins (1.8)
Jim Johnson (1.7)
Mark Melancon (0.6)
Wilton Lopez (0.5)
Fernando Rodriguez (0.3)

This group of relievers have 4.9 WAR this season.

It only took me two more teams (five total) to get the batters (27.3 WAR) picked out.

Matt Wieters (4.0)
Carlos Lee (3.0)
Dustin Ackley (2.7)
Chase Headley (2.6)
J.J. Hardy (3.8)
Adam Jones (2.7)
Cameron Maybin (4.3)
Jason Bourgeois (1.3)
Michael Cuddyer (2.9)

It would not be great lineup, but is fairly respectable.

Finding a starting pitching staff took a few more teams. Of the first five teams I looked at, only Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda of Seattle made the final list. As I went through five more teams, I passed over some great hitters that would have knocked players off the initial list (Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Alexi Ramerz, Mike Stanton, Andrew McCutchen and Alex Gordon). The position players would improve dramatically as teams were added to get the starting pitchers.

Finally after looking at total of 10 teams, a comparable pitching staff could be found (22.1WAR):

Felix Hernandez (5.5)
Matt Garza (4.8)
Brandon McCarthy (4.7)
Anibal Sanchez (3.7)
Michael Pineda (3.4)

Besides Hernandez, it is not exactly a staff that would be as feared as the Phillies staff. Some of the pitchers are having an outlier of year and have never been at this production level before. The next four teams — New York (Mets), Washington, Cincinnati and Chicago (White Sox) — all didn’t have in huge upgrades in pitching. It would take adding Masterson from Cleveland and Kershaw from L.A. to really make any meaningful additions to the new staff.

It took about five of the worst teams in the league combining talent to get a starting lineup and relief staff comparable to the Phillies. Finding a pitching staff was more difficult and took looking at 10 teams. The Phillies are definitely the best team in the league and the talent disparity between them and the worse teams is quite substantial.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

61 Responses to “Phillies = 10 Bottom Dwellers”

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  1. Peter says:

    Good thing they are a young team too…. Oh wait. But seriously do they have a future in 3, 4 or 5 years?

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    • don says:

      If the payroll stays in the top 3, yes. Of course, that alone is no guarantee if it’s spent poorly (Mets, Cubs, etc.)

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    • Mike says:

      They’re strong in A-ball….but the better question is “who cares?”. They’re obviously a win now team and they’re positioned extremely well to do that this year and the next couple years as well. Isn’t that the point?

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    • Anders says:

      If the Phillies are willing to pay Rollins and Hamels there worth they have there pitching core for atleast 3 more years (and looking more into the future is impossible) and would have replaced Ibanez with Brown.
      Only Madson of the relievers is bound to leave, because some team will overpay again for a closer

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    • Scout Finch says:

      Isn’t that like asking if the Red Sox or Yankees have a future in 3,4, or 5 years ?

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      • Nik says:

        Exactly. People dont yet realize that the Phils have a higher payroll than the Red Sox coming into this season.

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      • Anthony says:

        no, Philly doesn’t have a history of being rich. Their stadium has only been packed since they won the world series. Philly sports fans are awful. Once they start to look like the Cubs, old, declining players with contracts they can’t move, I bet the bank isn’t packed anymore. Then you have those big contracts with a lower payroll.

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      • Kyle says:

        Wait, you mean fans started taking more of an interest when the franchise built a new stadium and actually putting a quality product on the field? You’re right, that kind of thing only ever happens in Philly.

        For the record, the Phillies have been in the top third of the league in attendance every season since CBP opened. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of your bullshit!

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      • Patricio says:

        There was a Mets/Phils game at CBP years ago. Jose Reyes slid headfirst into second and was down and was not getting up. You know what the Phils fans did? They cheered.

        Jose Reyes, after a bit, finally started getting up, and was back on his feet. You know what the Phils fans did? They booed.

        I lost all respect, for those fans, that day.

        This is accompanied by the Phils fan throwing up on the Cop and his family on purpose, as well as the constant harassment of Rays fans at CBP (during the WS).

        I know it only takes one idiot, but you just don’t hear as many terrible fan stories as you do about the phillies fans.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Patricio,

        To be fair, like with Irving, Jose Reyes is one of the least likable players in baseball. For me, he’s on a very short list with Matt Kemp. No other player is a tenth as unlikable as those two (not hyperbole).

        It’s human nature to be pleased when someone you don’t like suffers ill. Reyes, by drawing the ire of the Phillies fans, earned those cheers and boos. As a Met, he should be proud, it’s a sign he’s doing his job.

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    • Jeff says:

      They have a pretty bleak future beyond the next couple years. I know everyone here wants to think Halladay is well beyond being the greatest pitcher of all time and is going to be putting up 8 WAR seasons until he dies at the age of 150, but he most likely isn’t going to be worth his contract by the end of it. Nor will Lee. Howard isn’t even an average player anymore and is already a humongous albatross.

      Hamels is going to be a superstar for years to come, but he will also command a huge contract. Domonic Brown is still essentially a prospect, even though he’s been in the Show for a while – kind of similar to Rick Porcello’s situation, but Kid Rick is younger and is better at baseball. Not exactly the kind of player I would bank on being the position player of the future.

      The Phillies are great now – which is obviously the point of their organizational strategy – but their 3-5 year future is probably the 3rd or 4th best in the division. If I was a Phillies fan, looking up at the championship flag(s) will more than make up for some lean years in the middle of this decade.

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      • Phrozen says:

        So how are those Yankees doing now, anyway? I mean, Mantle, Ruth and DiMaggio are dead, Jackson’s retired, and Mattingly manages the Dodgers. I haven’t checked the standings in a while, but I’m guessing, based on your logic, that they must be pretty miserable over in the Bronx.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        The Yankees have a much larger city to draw from.

        How big is the Philadelphia area? As big as DC. The two teams should, long run, be about the same quality.

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  2. John says:

    Halladay and Lee have more WAR than what is written.

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  3. TK says:

    The phillies have a great starting pitching staff. I think we all already knew that.

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  4. Santos says:

    “It would not be great lineup, but is fairly respectable”

    In Soviet Russia, car drives you!

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  5. Daniel says:

    Too bad Alex Gordon plays for the Royals… his 6 WAR might actually be worth something otherwise. :/

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  6. cwendt says:

    Except for your premise being incorrect, I take your point.

    2011 Phillies (as of 9/26): 52.9 WAR from the players you included.
    2011 Yankees: 58.9 WAR from their equivalents.

    Except for Jesus Montero (.7 WAR), with less than one month of MLB experience, the Yankees starters all have 2.4+ WAR. One of their relievers (Robertson) has more WAR than the entire Phillies bullpen, minus the negative contribution of Herndon.

    The Phillies have a substantial edge starting pitching (in the form of their 2nd & 3rd starters), but that is all. They are substantially weaker offensively, in the field and in the bullpen.

    The AL East is the only division with a positive run differential once you take away the division leader. It is a mistake to confuse record with talent when you do not account for the competition.

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    • Owen says:

      I wasn’t as scientific in terms of comparing position by position, but a glance at the team WAR leaders for batting and pitching shows that the Yanks, Red Sox and Rangers have all similarly outperformed the Phillies.

      This is not the first place I have seen the “Phillies are the best team in baseball” idea and it is as confusing to me as the Justin Verlander for MVP idea.

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      • cwendt says:

        I replicated the author’s analysis for the Red Sox & Rangers.

        Phillies: 52.9

        Red Sox: 54.1. However, this assumes that Kevin Youkilis (3.8) continues to play moving forward, and not Jed Lowrie (.4).

        Rangers: 58.8. Depending on what lineup they field, you could argue they are dead even or even a bit ahead of the Yankees. Their lineup is just as dangerous top to bottom, their SP is better 2-4, and their bullpen is almost as strong.

        Basically, we look at the Phillies record and their 3 Aces and think “best team!” They might still be, giving the importance of SP in the playoffs (and the Phillies will retain the biggest edge once the rotations are cut down). But they are fairly thin everywhere else, compared to the other contenders.

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      • @cwendt says:

        Regarding the Rangers vs. Yankee offensively:

        “top to bottom” is what someone says when the lineup is weaker and they are making a stretch of logic.

        That is all.

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      • cwendt says:

        At the anonymous poster:

        1. The Yankees have a team WRC+ of 115, tied for 2nd in MLB…with the Texas Rangers.

        2. If you ordered the lineup by the WRC of their probable starters, you would see that neither the Yankees nor Rangers bat anything less than an average major league hitter:
        Yankees: 185 (Montero, SS), 149, 137, 126, 123, 122, 106, 104, 100.
        Rangers: 172, 135, 133, 130, 129, 117, 111, 100, 99

        When your 9th hitter is still ML average, that is “depth”.

        You can quibble about who is in that lineup (Gentry, Chavez, Moreland, Torrealba), but all of them are better hitters (95+ WRC) than Ibanez or Polanco. The Yankees and Rangers can truly field lineups with no “automatic outs”.

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      • Neuter Your Dogma says:

        “Red Sox: 54.1. However, this assumes that Kevin Youkilis (3.8) continues to play moving forward”

        Big assumption is Red Sox continue to play moving forward.

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  7. Hurtlocker says:

    How on earth does Ryan Howard end up with a lower WAR than Ruiz and Mayberry?? That defies logic.

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    • Hurtlocker says:

      How do the White Sox end up with a higher pitchers WAR than the Giants?? That also defies logic.

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    • BlackOps says:

      How does Ryan Howard get more RBIs than everyone else? He’s clutch. This does not defy logic because great hitters produce runs and get RBIs.

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      • Hurtlocker says:

        Agreed, so why is his WAR lower than Ruiz and Mayberry??

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      • cwendt says:

        Much of the difference, perhaps all of it, is position adjustment.

        Howard plays the easiest defensive position on the field. Ruiz plays the hardest. Mayberry has spent most of his time in the OF, including CF.

        To be as valuable as Mayberry or Ruiz, Howard has to be a much better hitter. This year he hasn’t been, to say nothing of his below average defense and apparently awful (-8) baserunning.

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      • GMH says:

        Anyone who claims first base is an easier position to play than the outfield hasn’t played either position.

        Playing outfield is a breeze compared to any of the infield positions. The longer amount of time a player has to react to a batted ball, the easier it is to make a play. Aside from pitchers, corner infielders have the least amount of time to react to a batted ball. So having quick and adept reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and feet are imperative. In contrast, an outfielder can rely upon his athleticsm (i.e. speed) to make up for getting bad breaks on a batted ball. There is no such luxury for an infielder. And the throws an infielder has to make, including a first baseman, are far more difficult than any throw an outfielder makes, because accuracy is far more critical. Infielders do not have the luxury of relay men.

        I’ve never liked Bill James’s defensive “intrisic weights” or his very flawed “defensive spectrum.” And I’ve never seen the statistician who assigned proper linear weights/win shares to measure the value of defenders. Comparing outfield putouts to infield assists is like comparing algebra to differential calculus.

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      • Matt says:

        Context matters. On a strict, ability-to-not-look-embarrassing level, RF or LF might be easier than 1B. But when you’re talking positional adjustments or defensive spectrum, you are comparing performance to the average MLB defender. Average outfielders are a lot better at defense than average first basemen. I believe range matters a lot more than errors in an MLB outfield, which might cause some of this confusion.

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      • TFINY says:

        ….Are you guys all trolling? No, seriously, I can’t tell. If not, say so, and someone can try to explain it differently so you can see where we come from.

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      • jsolid says:

        “he’s clutch… great hitters produce runs and get RBIs”

        is joke? is on wrong website?

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      • GMH says:

        Years ago Bill James asserted that first base was the easiest position to play because he made the observation that teams were more likely to put an aging, big, slow player at first base than the outfield or any other position. But that observation tells us nothing about the “difficulty” of the position. The proper conclusion is that managers would prefer to have a player with speed in the outfield than at first base.

        My point is that the skill required for fielding ground balls and line drives off the bat when you may be no more than 90 or 100 feet away from the hitter, and catching errant throws by infielders, is greater than the skill needed for tracking fly balls. One’s ability to run fast in a straight line has almost no bearing on the skill of fielding. Some of the greatest infielders in the history of the game possessed little speed: Brooks Robinson, Bill Mazeroski, Don Mattingly, Keith Hernandez, Billy Cox, Graig Nettles, just to name a few. Dustin Pedroia would have a hard time beating most of his teammates in a foot race, but he is an extremely skilled infielder with terrific range. Even some outfielders have been fantastic in spite of having limited speed (Jim Edmonds). There is a dearth of players who transitioned from the outfield to an infield position in the middle of their careers, and yet baseball history is filled with players who made a successful transition from the infield to the outfield. The skill of fielding has more to do with having quick hands and feet and acute reflexes – skills which are not needed as much in the outfield.

        Hank Greenberg, who was huge and slow – the body type for a born first baseman – said that he hated playing first base because it was far more difficult than playing the outfield. When he was moved from first base to the outfield shortly before World War II broke out, he said he felt as if a great weight was lifted off his shoulders, and he could relax more in the field. Of course, this is anecdotal, but Greenberg commented on how active the position of first base was compared to the outfield, and the difficulty of fielding hard hit groundballs with spin and errant throws made by infielders. Basically, there was a lot more pressure in playing first base than the outfield. And that increased amount of pressure has to be equated when determining how “difficult” it is to field a position.

        I think Fangraphs and everyone else in the Sabermetrics community has assigned far too much defensive value to outfielders and far too little to infielders. Outfield range isn’t nearly as important in an age of small ballparks.

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      • Hayves says:

        @GMH I find it incredibly hard to believe that you’ve played baseball and think 1B is harder than OF.

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  8. Question says:

    According to the Power Rankings, the Yankees have a higher team WAR (by a bit, too).

    How about doing this exercise with them, being the highest WAR team, instead? It would only further the point of this article “look how good/bad teams are!”

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      It would probably take less teams, I am almost sure of it. The Yankee’s SP is not comparable.

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      • Jerome S says:

        Because I could totally find Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Cano, Swisher, [DH], Martin and Gardner on like four or five teams.

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      • How? says:

        How would it take *fewer* (sorry, had to do it) teams if they have a higher team WAR?

        Yes, the Phillies [starting] pitchers are better. We know that. But the Yankees hitters are substantially better. Like, by a lot a lot. That’s why they total more WAR.

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      • Lawrie says:

        It took 10 teams to find the pitchers, but only 5 to find the batters. Even with substantially better batters, you probably wouldn’t need to go past Colorado to find enough WAR. I’d expect 9 teams to be more than enough.

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  9. Michael says:

    “Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers all have higher WAR so the Phillies can’t be the best and I’m a computer”*

    Did I miss one of those official position articles where Fangraphs stated that the #1 team on the WAR leaderboard is unarguably the best team in baseball?

    *all quotes are approximate

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    • cwendt says:

      How would you prefer to quantify “best”?

      WAR at least attempts to account for individual talent. Record is a function of talent + competition. The Phillies play in the weaker league, and would not be a 100 win team in the AL East.

      If you would prefer, you could look at run differentials (Yankees 217, Phillies 177, Rangers 169, Red Sox 139) or aggregate performance (the Phillies are 12th runs scored, though they are 1st in runs allowed by a substantial margin; the Yankees are 1st & 10th, respectively)?

      Or perhaps you would like to argue that the Phillies have the most “heart”?

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      • Michael says:

        I never stated the Phillies are the best team. What I was stating through parody was my aversion to the rote acceptance of the WAR leader as the best team (insert your favorite definition of best). The use of WAR for the purposes of anything besides simply saying who has ___ WAR is probably a misappropriation of WAR’s intent.

        And yes, if you would like to rank teams by heart I wouldn’t be against it, just give me a systematic, pseudo-objective way of quantifying what you’re trying to measure.

        I don’t know if the Phillies are the best team, but I wouldn’t just point to their standing in team WAR to make my argument that they’re not. Besides, the point of the article was not to emphasize the author’s opinion that the Phillies are the best team, which no doubt was formed using objective and subjective information, the point was to pick a team and attempt to write about them from an interesting perspective in the context of not-so-good teams. You can pick any of the top teams and write a similar article, just the players mentioned would be somewhat different.

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        The opening line of the article is: “The Phillies are the best team in baseball this season.”

        The conclusion of the article is: “It took about five of the worst teams in the league combining talent to get a starting lineup and relief staff comparable to the Phillies. Finding a pitching staff was more difficult and took looking at 10 teams. The Phillies are definitely the best team in the league and the talent disparity between them and the worse teams is quite substantial.”

        So yeah. I’m pretty sure the point of the article was, indeed, to emphasize the author’s opinion that the Phillies are the best team, considering that’s the thesis statement of the post.

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    • Rex Manning Day says:

      This would be a valid complaint if you weren’t commenting on a post in which the author claims the Phillies are Clearly The Best Team In Baseball, and uses individual player WAR to drive home his point.

      If you use the very same techniques the author uses, the Yankees, Rangers, and Red Sox are all as good or better than the Phillies. That’s not slavish adherence to WAR, it’s using the author’s own strategy to point out a flaw in the post.

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  10. TK says:

    If you actually made a lineup and bullpen from the best guys on the bottom ten teams, they’d blow the phillies away. This is cute but not logical.

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    • Neuter Your Dogma says:

      Agreed. SP is the only comp.

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    • Rex Manning Day says:

      And the rotation the author comes up with is only .5 WAR behind Philly. Somehow this post makes it seem like the biggest gap between Philly and the “bottom feeders” is in their offense, so you know there’s a problem somewhere.

      Without the arbitrary player selection process, which conveniently leaves out the 4 best players on these teams (n.b., Gordon and Tulo have higher WARs than any of the Philly position players), the gap goes away entirely. A lineup of Cuddyer-Infante-Ramirez-Tulowitski-Gordon-McCutchen-Stanton-Wieters would give you 36.7 WAR, 10 higher than Philly.

      As for the bullpen, I’m sure you could scrounge up 2 WAR from these teams. Joel Hanrahan alone gets you more than halfway there.

      The Phillies are certainly very good, but this is a silly way of showing it.

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  11. Adam says:

    I think the author simply used the Phillies’ record to determine that they’re “the best team in baseball this season,” and then used WAR to compare Phillies’ players with those of other teams. I suppose he did so–this is a guess–because the composite of other players have no record as a team, and because individual players can really only be compared by WAR.

    The problem, of course, is that the second piece of criteria (WAR) undermines the central assumption–that the Phillies are the best team in baseball. It would have been better had we just used WAR to judge the best team and players, but of course that would have meant using the Yankees as the foil.

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    • cwendt says:

      Or possibly the Rangers, if you look at their pen additions (Feliz is arguably their 4th best reliever this year), SP depth (4 starters w. 3.4+ WAR) and the lineup they can put out (an equal of the Yanks or Sox).

      They really do have a good team right now.

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  12. Andrew says:

    I figured from the headline this was a teaser for the Org Rankings series.

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  13. Doogolas33 says:

    Phillies: 25.7
    Rammy 3B 3.4
    Castro SS 3.3
    Pena 1B 2.7
    Byrd CF 2.1
    Soto C 2.0
    Alex Gordon LF 6.8
    Melky Cabrera RF 4.1
    Darwin Barney 2.0
    This team total: 26.4

    24.6
    Felix Hernandez 5.5
    Matt Garza 4.8
    Brandon McCarthy 4.7
    Anibal Sanchez 3.7
    Ricky Nolasco 3.4

    Team total: 22.3

    Phillies: 2
    Sean Marshall 2.7
    Marmol .9
    Shark .6
    Wood .5
    Grabow -.5
    This team total: 4.2

    That is a comparable team using five teams. And the only reason you need more than two is the outrageous starting rotation. I mean, it’s not in order, but forcing players on from bad teams and only moving up when you can’t any more makes no real sense. Cause they aren’t close to the talent level of the best at every position from all those teams. If you do that you can make a lineup and bullpen so much better than what the Phillies have it’s not even funny. Cause you can put:
    C Wieters 4.0 (Orioles) I
    1B Carlos Lee 3.1 (Astros) II
    2B Omar Infante 2.8 (Marlins) III
    3B Aramis Ramirez 3.4 (Cubs) IV
    SS JJ Hardy 4.4
    LF Alex Gordon 6.8 (Royals) V
    CF Cameron Maybin 4.5 (Padres) VI
    RF Mike Stanton 4.5
    Total WAR: 33.5WAR

    Starters:
    Felix Hernandez 5.5
    Matt Garza 4.8
    Brandon McCarthy 4.7 (A’s) IX
    Anibal Sanchez 3.7
    Michael Pineda 3.4
    Total WAR: 22.1WAR

    Relievers:
    Marshall 2.7
    Greg Holland 2.1
    Jim Johnson 1.7
    Rafael Betancourt 1.5 (Rockies) VII
    Brandon League 1.4 (Mariners) IIX
    Total WAR: 9.4(!!!!)

    So I used 9 of the 10 teams. And the total team WAR from that team is way, way, way more than the Phillies.

    Phillies: 52.3
    This Team: 65

    The Phillies are obviously outrageously talented but they’re not better than the worst 10 teams combined. They’re a full 13 wins under that if you take the best of the best. And using 3 or 4 teams you can make an overall comparable team, though you can’t necessarily make each component equal.

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    • The Nicker says:

      Exactly right. This title is massively misleading. If you actually use the rosters of the 10 bottom dwellers you can get a far far superior team.

      You shouldn’t have break the team up into 3 parts and the use the greatest common factor to count as “= that many teams.” The bottom dwellers could put together a better lineup and bullpen to counter the Phillies’ superior staff. In that case, it’s more like Phillies = 6 bottom dwellers, which is still impressive and much more factual.

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  14. gdc says:

    All the people saying other p/o contenders are even or above the Phils make a bottom dweller feel even worse. Maybe 5 teams equal the Phils with better position players and lesser SP. But that’s not all the swapping you need to get to #1, its what you need to win a non-Central division.

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  15. Andrew says:

    I agree; the title is misleading. “Phillies Starting Pitching Staff = 10 Bottom Dwellers’ Rotations” might be more accurate. By WAR, the Phillies are not even the best team in the MLB (although these stats may be slightly more current). The Yankees do not equal the Phillies in starting pitching, but are superior overall:

    Position Players: (Total = 36.1 WAR)
    Russell Martin (3.0)
    Mark Teixeira (4.0)
    Robinson Cano (5.9)
    Alex Rodriguez (4.2)
    Derek Jeter (2.4)
    Brett Gardner (5.9)
    Curtis Granderson (7.0)
    Nick Swisher (3.7)

    Starting Pitching: (Total = 15.9 WAR)
    CC Sabathia (7.0)
    Bartolo Colon (2.8)
    Ivan Nova (2.6)
    Freddy Garcia (2.1)
    AJ Burnett (1.4)

    Relievers: (Total = 6.9 WAR)
    David Robertson (2.8)
    Mariano Rivera (2.4)
    Boone Logan (0.7)
    Cory Wade (0.5)
    Rafael Soriano (0.5)

    Summing these totals gives the Yankees a team WAR of 58.9, or 6.6 wins above the Phillies. The Phillies obviously have a far superior starting rotation, but the disparity between the Yankee and Phillie lineups is even greater, as the Yankees have good-to-great players at every single position, whereas the Phillies have several holes, particularly in Howard and Ibanez. The Yankees gain the edge mainly due to a superior bullpen (in which most of the value has come from the one-two combination of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, who have each individually produced more value than the entire Phillies bullpen). Of course, I did not go through and update each of the Phillies WAR values, so it is possible that the Phillies have closed the gap and are actually roughly even with the Yankees.

    I understand that the Phillies made for a headline with a greater impact due to your strange methodology in which the ‘superteam’ you have created can only equal the Phillies in value when the value of each component of the team (including their excellent rotation) is met, but it yields a misleading headline and an inaccurate opening sentence. The 2011 Phillies are an excellent team, but they are not the best team in baseball.

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  16. Jon L. says:

    It’s a silly, completely illogical article by an ardent Phillies fan, and I’m shocked it didn’t suffer the flames and insults of many a better article on this site.

    But hey, it’s fun too, so what the heck.

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    • Andrew says:

      Jeff Zimmerman is a Royals fan if he’s the same Jeff Zimmerman from Beyond the Boxscore and Royals Review. This is still a pretty terrible article, though.

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  17. Hurtlocker says:

    I would not trade the Giants rotation or entire pitching staff for the Phillies pitching staff straight across now or ever. The Giants staff is simply better
    and younger. The Giants hitting sucks badly, but put the Giants staff behind the Phillies starting linup and the Giants win 110 games plus.

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    • Brad says:

      Giants/Phillies starters by SIERA:

      Lee 2.57
      Halladay 2.64
      Hamels 2.88
      Bumgarner 3.10
      Lincecum 3.31
      Worley 3.56
      Cain 3.63
      Vogelsong 3.82
      Oswalt 3.91
      Sanchez 4.30

      The Giants staff is younger. Better? I think it’s pretty difficult to make that arguement.

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  18. Barkey Walker says:

    classic mistake, “Here is a look at how many bad teams would need to be combined to make a team that would be comparable to the Phillies in talent.”

    Nope.

    WAR = above replacement.

    Try, “Here is a look at how many bad teams would need to be combined to make a team that would be comparable to the Phillies in talent in excess of AAAA players, per player.”

    You have to realize, even a guy batting 0.215 is still an awesome batter.

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