Phillies Postseason push needs a second look
We all love a feel good, great spring training season especially for the upcoming season. It's the fresh smell of cut grass, the sound of the crowd, and the cadence of a 'beer here' that we've all missed from the baseball season from last season.
Looking back at the past two seasons, we've enjoyed quite a run with 2 more first place NL East finishes. We've have seen some of the most talented players in baseball on the Phillies for the past couple of seasons, and even seen the Phillies get the most wins of any season just last year.
All of that feel good, sounds good stuff aside, the past two seasons haven't been that great when it comes to making it through the playoffs to the World Series. The Phillies have not met their goal of getting into and possibly winning another World Series since the '09 season, which they lost to the Yankees.
The lack of great play in the playoffs is a cause for concern though. Just last year, it was a total collapse of the offense when the team needed it most. Talented players that just didn't have anything left to contribute to the team to take them all to the next level.
Ryan Howard is coming off of a horrible injury. He had such a horrible contribution to the offense in the NL Division series in 2011, that it can't be ignored. Howard is getting paid megabucks to produce and he failed the team last year when it needed him to do what he is paid to do.
Placido Polanco is another player who didn't produce in the playoffs last year. He batted the same BA as Ryan Howard, which was .105 - that is 2 for 19. The Phillies shipped World Series champion, Pedro Feliz off in an instant after the 2009 season for a 'perceived' lack of offense in the playoffs and World Series. Feliz batted .267 in the NLDS for 2009, .118 in the NLCS that year, and .174 with 2 RBI in the 2009 World Series.
The Phillies dropped a pivotal Game 2 of the NLDS to the Cardinals at home last season in the NLDS. After winning the first game in Philadelphia by a score of 11-6, the Phillies could have really put St. Louis on the defensive by winning the second game, but it wasn't to be. Losing the 2nd game of the series at home essentially rendered the Phillies home field advantage useless.
Here is what the lose looked like on the batting boxscore:
|Jimmy Rollins SS||4||2||3||0||0||0||2·2B,SB,CS|
|Chase Utley 2B||1||1||0||0||2||1||HBP|
|Hunter Pence RF||3||1||1||1||1||1|
|Ryan Howard 1B||4||0||1||2||0||1|
|Shane Victorino CF||4||0||0||0||0||0|
|Raul Ibanez LF||4||0||1||1||0||2|
|Placido Polanco 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||GDP|
|Carlos Ruiz C||4||0||0||0||0||1|
|Cliff Lee P||2||0||0||0||0||1|
|Brad Lidge P||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ross Gload PH||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ben Francisco PH||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Antonio Bastardo P||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Vance Worley P||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Madson P||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The Phillies rallied to win a Game 3 in St. Louis. Cole Hamels battled the Cardinals and came away with a win by the score of 3-2. Ryan Howard, Hunter Pence, and John Mayberry all went 0-10 combined in this game, and Placido Polanco finally got a hit, bringing his average to .083 in the series. The hot player on the Phillies was Jimmy Rollins who at the end of game 3 had a .583 BA, and an OPS at 1.449 as well.
Here's how the offense looked after game 3 in St. Louis:
|Jimmy Rollins SS||4||0||2||0||0||.583||1.449||2B,SB|
|Chase Utley 2B||4||0||1||0||0||.400||1.138|
|Hunter Pence RF||3||0||0||0||0||.273||.657||IW|
|Ryan Howard 1B||4||0||0||0||2||.182||.685|
|Shane Victorino CF||4||1||1||0||0||.333||.667|
|John Mayberry LF||4||0||0||0||1||.000||.000|
|Placido Polanco 3B||4||0||1||0||0||.083||.167|
|Carlos Ruiz C||3||1||1||0||0||.091||.258||IW|
|Cole Hamels P||2||0||0||0||0||.000||.000|
|Ben Francisco PH||1||1||1||3||0||.500||2.500||HR|
|Vance Worley P||0||0||0||0||0|
|Antonio Bastardo P||0||0||0||0||0|
|Brad Lidge P||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Madson P||1||0||0||0||1||.000||.000|
Game 4 batting by the Phillies in St. Louis, a win could have advanced the team to the NLCS:
|Jimmy Rollins SS||4||2||0||0||0||.563||1.401||2B|
|Chase Utley 2B||3||2||1||1||0||.462||1.357||3B|
|Hunter Pence RF||4||1||1||0||0||.267||.620||CS|
|Ryan Howard 1B||4||0||0||0||3||.133||.510|
|Shane Victorino CF||4||0||0||0||0||.250||.500|
|Raul Ibanez LF||4||0||0||0||3||.250||.750|
|Placido Polanco 3B||4||1||0||0||0||.125||.250|
|Carlos Ruiz C||3||0||0||0||1||.071||.205|
|Roy Oswalt P||1||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||SH|
|Joe Blanton P||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ross Gload PH||1||1||0||0||0||1.000||2.000|
|Michael Martinez PR||0||0||0||0||0|
|Brad Lidge P||0||0||0||0||0|
When you add all of the missed opportunities by certain players on the offense, it's easy to see how the Phillies did not advance further in the playoffs. Where they out of gas, turning in an awesome season with the highest win total by any Phillies team in the regular season ever? Perhaps.
Game 5 was like a one game playoff, with the winner taking all. The Phillies again had the home field advantage and their best pitcher, Roy Halladay, facing the Cardinals best, Chris Carpenter. It was classic baseball. The game was won with a lone run, scored in the first inning by the Cardinals. The Phillies couldn't answer back, and the rest is history. Nearly the whole Phillies lineup was held hitless in this game, the whole team only managed to get 3 hits on the night.
Here is how the Game 5 looked on the batting boxscore for the Phillies:
|Jimmy Rollins SS||4||0||0||0||.450||1.126|
|Chase Utley 2B||3||1||0||1||.438||1.259||CS,HBP|
|Hunter Pence RF||4||0||0||0||.211||.496|
|Ryan Howard 1B||4||0||0||0||.105||.406|
|Shane Victorino CF||3||2||0||0||.316||.684||2B|
|Raul Ibanez LF||3||0||0||0||.200||.600|
|Placido Polanco 3B||3||0||0||0||.105||.211|
|Carlos Ruiz C||3||0||0||0||.059||.170|
|Roy Halladay P||2||0||0||1||.167||.333|
|Ross Gload PH||1||0||0||1||.500||1.000|
|Michael Martinez PR||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Madson P||0||0||0||0||.000||.000|
So it ended, one of the best Phillies seasons ever in the regular season was reduced to a final game in Philadelphia which they couldn't even draw a walk or steal for a base. These are the things that need to be looked at so they aren't repeated, and the same result is obtained. 2012 is a new season, a time for fresh starts, but not without a lingering look back at the lack of offense late in the season last year.