The Philadelphia Phillies Reality Check: Are the Bats Really On the Decline Again?

The Philadelphia Phillies are in yet another offensive funk within a couple of months.  But this is nothing new to this baseball organization as the bats have nearly gone into decline the past few seasons around this time.  Like last season, the offense after the first month falls into ruin for no apparent reason.  With the pitchers struggling or overcoming injuries, the Phillies aren’t helping themselves.  As a team, they were originally in the top 5 in overall total runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  However, now they are ranked 19th, 16th, 16th and 22nd in each of those respective statistics. They are now a half-game ahead of the Florida Marlins in NL East and holding to it by a thread as the potent offense of the Colorado Rockies come into town.

The toted All-Star Rotation in the beginning of the season have been in decline.  Surprisingly, they are maintaining 2nd overall in the overall ERA rankings in the entire league. In May, Roy Halladay has fallen slightly from a 2.35 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP compared to his season average of 2.21 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.  He’s been the one bright and consistent star on the entire team.  The prodigal son of Philadelphia, Cliff Lee, has actually improved over the past month.  He had a 3.42 ERA and 1.48 WHIP compared his season average of 3.84 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. In a turn of events, Cole Hamels has stepped up even with the presence of Cliff Lee.  Usually, like a couple of seasons before, the opposite effect happened with Cliff Lee pitching great while Cole Hamels pitching not so well.  Presently, Cole Hamels has a season average of 3.19 ERA and 1.04 WHIP which is better than Cliff Lee. In May, however, he had 3.27 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Meanwhile, Roy Oswalt has declined slightly this season as well.  He presently has a season average of 3.33 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.

But the offense is what important now as it seems that the Phillies can’t generate any significant offense with the elite pitchers in their starting rotation. Currently, they are ranked 19th in total runs sandwiched between the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles.  Astonishingly, they are even below the lackluster New York Mets who are ranked 13th. But these numbers are slightly deceptive. Ryan Howard is keeping pace with his All-Star statistics.  He is ranked 6th overall in total runs and 2nd in runs batted-in in the National League.  Furthermore, Placido Polanco currently has the 5th best batting average in the National League with .338.  Ryan Howard has declined in May, however.  He has to a .182 batting average compared to his season average of .252.  Meanwhile, Jimmy Rollins has declined slightly in May with .250 batting average compared to his season’s .269.  And the last and the worst, Placido Polanco’s batting average has plummeted in May despite holding 5th overall in batting average.  He had a .222 batting average throughout May so far compared to his season average of .338.  As a Phillies team, they aren’t performing spectacular, but they aren’t alone.  The malaise in offense seems to be affecting the entire league, especially the NL East.

What the Phillies are suffering from, most of the rest of the league as a whole are declining as well.  I imagine it’s the team rosters settling down and contending with injuries.  With the Philadelphia Phillies losing their last four consecutive games, it’s too early to spell doom and gloom quite yet.  Roy Oswalt’s loss last night 2-1 against the St. Louis Cardinals should be taken with a grain of salt.  Their offense has been hot this season as Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman are ranked 1st and 2nd in the entire National League with batting averages of .360 and .352 respectively, and Lance Berkman leads the NL with runs batted-in.  We still have several months before September rolls around, and playoffs come into view.  It’s far too early to cry wolf…yet.

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