A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.
Number Eight: Philadelphia Phillies
Ranking 9th in offense and 12th in defense by BaseRuns, the Phillies are the third team in the second group of balanced offense-defense squads with the White Sox and Brewers above them.
The rotation consisted of two full season average performances from Jamie Moyer and Brett Myers, a superb season from Cole Hamels and the worst statistical performance (factoring playing time) among pitchers this year from Kyle Kendrick.
In relief, Brad Lidge came back with a vengeance, recapturing a performance level not seen since 2005. Given the payoff (a playoff berth) and the poor performance of Michael Bourn, the offseason trade has to be considered a win for Philadelphia thus far. Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin combined to toss 151.1 innings of good relief, a contribution hugely helpful given the mediocre rotation throughout the year.
Aside from their above average bullpen, the offense is where the Phillies really shown, even after adjusting for their ball park. The Phillies were a catcher and a third baseman away from being above average at every position. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth all produced at a high level over regular playing time and they even dragged out 240 solid plate appearances from Greg Dobbs after Pedro Feliz didn’t really work out.
The Phillies in 2009 will have enough on their plate just retaining their current players with many of them due significant raises via arbitration. Despite rumors that Ryan Howard might find himself on the trading block given his record arbitration reward, team sources seem to say that the likelihood that Howard is dealt is near zero. The Phillies also seem keen on trying to retain Pat Burrell, but the main question for them is going to be shoring up their rotation.
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