Friday, July 15, 2011

Second Half Of The Baseball Season...

What a difference a year makes.

About a year ago, the Phillies were down by six games in the National League East to Atlanta and three games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card.  Now, they are 3.5 games up on Atlanta (who is having a nice season unto themselves) and have an eight games cushion with the Wild Card spot (Atlanta holds the Wild Card lead over Arizona by five games).

Tonight will be their 92nd game of the season, and should they win, they will be 58-34, which would be their best start ever in the Charlie Manuel era and puts them in driver's seat for the rest of the season. 

The Phillies have been a great second half team in Charlie's tenure as manager...to wit:

2005: Started 47-45, finished 88-74 - 41-29 (.586)
2006: Started 42-50, finished 85-77 - 43-27 (.614)
2007: Started 46-46, finished 89-73 - 43-27 (.614)
2008: Started 49-43, finished 92-70 - 43-27 (.614)
2009: Started 53-39, finished 93-69 - 40-30 (.571)
2010: Started 48-44, finished 97-65 - 49-21 (.700)

That's 259-161 (.617) over the final seventy games for each of the past six seasons combined.  I realize that 92 is a somewhat arbitrary number, but with seventy to go, it provides a large enough sample to rule out any incredibly long streaks to skew the numbers one way or another. 

Put it another way - if the Phillies maintain their average pace for the rest of the season based on the trends of the Manuel era (43 wins in the final 70 games), they would finish with 100-101 wins, which would tie the franchise record set in 1976 and 1977.  If they can repeat last year's total, that would give them around 107 wins!  The 'average' over the remaining 70 games is actually remarkably similar to how they have done in the first 92 games.  If you want to know how to accumulate a one-hundred win season...that is how.

Of course, certain things have to fall into place.  The pitching needs to continue their stellar performance, especially with the top three (Halladay, Lee, and Hamels).  The bullpen and the remaining starters need to get healthy again.  Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino need to get healthy.  Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez need to maintain a good level of hitting.  Jimmy Rollins needs to continue setting the table.  Domonic Brown needs to continue improving, and the role players (Mayberry, Martinez, Francisco, Schneider, and Gload) need to play their role in spelling an ever aging team.  

Get ready for another fun summer in Philadelphia.  Standing to reason, this should make the team's fifth straight division title and potentially the favorites to reach the World Series.  But as always - one day at a time, and I like to remind myself that this is why they play the games. 

Fasten your seatbelts.

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