The defending NL East champs should gather their titles while they may, since the same Phillies that flower today tomorrow will be dying.
It’s been six seasons since the Phillies finished anywhere other than first in the National League East. Last year, they led the major leagues with 102 wins, their highest total during their recent run of success. Over the winter, they signed Jonathan Papelbon, the top closer available on the free agent market, and saw their jilted former closer, Ryan Madson, blow out his elbow before he could throw a meaningful pitch for a competitor. Their starting rotation will be headlined by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, who project to be three of the 15 most valuable pitchers in baseball. Their lineup will be bolstered by a full season from Hunter Pence. On the surface, most signs point to continued success. But the Phillies’ competitive window may be closing quickly.
There are four Phillies ranked between 51 and 100 on ESPN’s list of the top 500 players for 2012: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino. It’s conceivable that none of those four will be both ranked in that range and in uniform for the Phillies in 2013. Howard was worth less than two wins in each of the past two seasons and finished 12th on his team in WARP last season, so he’s already out of place that high on the leaderboard. This could be the season his reputation starts to reflect his recent performance: Even after he recovers from the ruptured and subsequently infected Achilles tendon that could cost him the first two months, his on-field decline will likely accelerate at age 32.
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Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.
Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.
Should the Yankees and Rays pull out all the stops in order to win the division and potentially gain home-field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS?
Over the next four nights, the battle for the American League East will rage in the Bronx, as the Yankees host the Rays for the teams’ final head-to-head confrontations of the regular season. Scant daylight separates the two clubs in the standings, as the Rays enter the (Evil) Empire State trailing the division-leading Bombers by just a half-game, and tied in the loss column. That may sound like a pressure-packed scenario, but at this point in the season, it’s safe to say that each team has become accustomed to hearing the other’s footsteps:
Dispelling the idea that all hitters reach their prime at the same age.
My grandfather used to say that in heaven, everyone was 25. He figured that was the perfect age in life. You're old enough that you're not a kid any more, but young enough to enjoy everything. Grandpa lived to age 93, and more than six years later, I still miss the guy. This one's for you, Grandpa.
A look at which teams gets the most for their money in the National League East, and which ones don't.
The response to last week's piece on the competitive ecology of the six major-league divisions, which integrated recent work by colleagues Shawn Hoffman and Matt Swartz with older work by Keith Woolner, Doug Pappas, and Nate Silver, was enthusiastic enough that I figured it would be worthwhile to delve into some of the nuances of each team's situation in the service of division-by-division rundowns. We'll start with the NL East.
Reviewing how badly each team's been hit by its assorted hurts.
For the last five years, we've been collecting injury data based off the official DL reports. While this data isn't complete, since the DL alone doesn't tell the full injury story, it is the only consistent source. By adding extra information to the database, we've been able to establish timelines, baselines, and guidelines for injuries, as well as using it as part of the Team Health Report prediction system. Since teams are starting to take note of this type of exercise, why not take a mid-season look here at the All-Star break, and see if we can find anything of note?