The Phillies alone in first, for how long?
The Phillies have surprisingly been on top of the NL East for a while now. The team have really pulled out a lot of offense to get there. As of June 20, the Phils are 2nd in the NL in runs scored with 393 and 4th in batting average with .263. Winning games got them where they are, now in the last 10 games the tables are turning on the Phils a little. They have only 4 wins in their last 10 games going into June 20th, and tonight on the 20th they look like they may lose another to the Angels on the first visit to Philly by the Angels is already being played.
Teams to watch continue to be the Marlins, which didn’t exactly fold its cards yet. The Marlins are only 2 games out of tying the Phils for first. The New York Mets are almost .500 now, and are looking like a powerhouse looming in the distance as they plot along after the firing of Willie Randolph. Poor Willie, he shouldn’t have lasted this long really.
Chase Utley has shown that he is human, and is in the first real slump he’s been in for as long as I remember. So many games he has been a powerhouse, now when he doesn’t connect, people notice. They have taken the many great hits from Utley for granted, and now he’s still a superstar, but even superstars have slumps.
If the Phillies were to fall out of first place, I would have to place that around the All Star break. Leading up to the All Star Game, the Phillies have a long home stand with 4 games against those Mets, three with the Cardinals, and three with Arizona. The only way the team avoids this is to keep winning going into the last week of June. They need to reverse this recent slump that the whole team has slid into, and get back to having fun and winning.
Ryan Howard has been hot to add RBI’s to his season total, but his batting average is way below the average major leaguer. He needs to try to get hits more, and stop swinging for the fence so much. His strikeouts are an astounding 102 already and we haven’t hit the half way point in the season yet. He is on pace to have 230 K’s this year. I am not happy with this, I don’t care that he has 63 rbi’s, I would like a hitter for average a lot more. He’s coming around after a totally unsatisfactory April and Mid May. If Howard stops striking out and connects for more hits, the Phillies will continue to win. If not, the Phils may suffer for it.
Errors have been creeping up on the team, rarely the team had an infield error, now that trend is reversing though. The Phillies have had more than their share of errors. The Phils should have 46 wins by now, according to Baseball-reference.com as of June 20, they’ve had some tough luck and that win total is 42 but for now it is good enough for first!
Rich Baxter / Fightin' Phillies blog