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Or at least it could if you wanted it to badly enough.

Right now, PECOTA has the Phillies in line for a 65-win season, which would’ve lost the division last year by 25 games. Or rather, the 50th-percentile projections for PECOTA say this—what if everything went right for the Phillies this year, and every player on the team hit his 90th-percentile projection? How many games would the Phillies win then?

Well, let’s go down the line and find out. Imprecise and anti-scientific as just adding up the WARP can be, for a deliberate exercise in folly such as this, we’ll settle for adding up the WARP.

Now, obviously, because these better projections will lead to increased playing time, we’ll have to make some adjustments in playing time as well. The average National League team had about 5,700 non-pitcher plate appearances last year, and its pitchers threw about 1,450 innings. So those numbers, give or take, will be our playing time targets.

You know the depth chart by now. It’s not unlike the city of Camden, N.J.—a hideous creation resulting from years of neglect and shortsightedness that you have to look at from time to time if you’re in Philadelphia. Here’s the best-case scenario, with each player listed only at one position for simplicity’s sake:

POSITION PLAYERS

Position

Player

PA

TAv

FRAA

WARP

Delta-WARP

C

Cameron Rupp*

391

0.266

-7

0.7

1.5

Carlos Ruiz

224

0.295

-9

0.7

0.9

1B

Ryan Howard*

205

0.282

-1

0.5

0.8

Darin Ruf

353

0.310

-1

2.5

1.6

2B

Cesar Hernandez

659

0.283

-2

3.6

2.2

Andres Blanco

308

0.295

1

2.4

1.7

SS

Freddy Galvis*

338

0.260

-4

1

1.1

JP Crawford**

317

0.292

2

2.5

2.5

3B

Maikel Franco

632

0.303

-8

3.7

2.3

LF

Cody Asche

565

0.287

-7

2.2

1.9

CF

Odubel Herrera

644

0.272

-2

2.8

2.1

Peter Bourjos

250

0.283

0

1.4

1.1

RF

Aaron Altherr

604

0.277

0

2.3

2

Tyler Goeddel

266

0.276

0

1.1

1

Total

5756

27.4

22.7

*I reduced the 90th-percentile projections for Howard (by two-thirds), Rupp (by 20 percent) and Galvis (by 40 percent) to bring the team plate appearance totals down to something realistic, and adjusted the WAR and FRAA totals to match. Because Asche, Franco, Blanco, Galvis, Hernandez, Herrera and Ruf can all play multiple positions, this would probably more or less shake itself out.

**Crawford wasn’t included in the original depth chart, but any division title involves him coming up midseason and performing like Francisco Lindor did last year, or close to it, which is what PECOTA projects. Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams’ 90th-percentile projections both had negligible MLB impact, so they were omitted.

The result of this remarkable and teamwide proliferation of pixie dust is still a pretty awful defensive team, and a team devoid of stars, apart from half a season of Crawford, but a lineup without any easy outs. Ruiz and Howard don’t quite revert to their all-star form, but both are significant offensive forces, while Franco (which was expected) and Hernandez (which definitely wasn’t) turn in near-all-star-quality seasons.

PITCHING

Role

Pitcher

G

GS

IP

ERA

DRA

WARP

Delta-WARP

SP1

Aaron Nola

26

26

159

3.14

3.27

3.5

1.8

SP2

Jeremy Hellickson

30

30

168.3

3.48

3.62

3.2

1.8

SP3

Charlie Morton

24

24

162.4

3.47

3.62

2.9

1.8

SP4

Jerad Eickhoff

23

23

148.2

3.47

3.51

2.8

1.5

SP5

Jake Thompson*

25

25

126.4

3.78

3.70

2.6

2.4

SP6

Mark Appel*

26

26

124.4

4.05

3.95

2.2

1.8

SP7/RP

Vincent Velasquez**

33

8

82.9

3.10

3.08

1.5

0.9

Closer

David Hernandez

66

0

88.6

3.55

3.44

1.1

0.1

RP

Luis Garcia

60

0

83.4

3.55

3.43

1.0

0.9

RP

James Russell

49

0

69.9

3.78

3.69

0.7

0.7

RP

Edward Mujica

55

0

76.2

3.62

3.53

0.9

0.8

RP

Hector Neris

55

0

76

3.56

3.50

0.9

0.8

RP

Jeanmar Gomez

60

0

80.9

3.42

3.54

1.0

0.8

162

1446.6

24.3

16.1

*Thompson and Appel aren’t listed on the original BP depth chart either, so their delta-WARP is compared to the pitchers whose rotation spots they took: Adam Morgan (who’s a 2.1 WARP pitcher in his 90th-percentile projection anyway) and Brett Oberholtzer, respectively.

**Only six of Vincent Velasquez’s 33 appearances were supposed to be starts, but I bumped that number up to eight to bring the team total to an even 162. His innings total remains the same.

Clearly only a lunatic would think that a major-league team would be able to get through an entire major league season using only 13 pitchers, but we’re entering a world where Mark Appel’s a league-average pitcher in 2016 and the Phillies win the NL East, so we’re not exactly playing within the bounds of reality here anyway. Moreover, there are several pitchers not listed here because they’d have put the Phillies over a realistic innings limit, so if James Russell eats it, Dalier Hinojosa or Colton Murray could take his place without much of a dropoff.

Conclusions
PECOTA has the Phillies pegged as a 65-win team based on, all things considered, 11.3 WARP from its various players, from Aaron Altherr to Vincent Velasquez. Let’s say that each of the 13 pitchers and 14 position players I’ve listed here hits his 90th-percentile outcome—each instance of which has one chance in 10 of happening. The odds of all of those players doing that in the same year, is therefore one in 1027. I spent several minutes trying to come up with a relatable illustration for how likely that is, but I couldn’t do it because either the number is too big or I’m too far removed from high school chemistry to talk about moles of gas intelligently.

The point is it will never happen.

So when I say that there is a possible confluence of events, predicted by PECOTA, in which the Phillies win (rounding to the nearest integer) 104 games in 2016, please don’t cancel your BP subscription. It’s possible that the Phillies could not only win the NL East, but break the franchise single-season wins record—it’s just not likely.

And when you think about it, there’s some wisdom in that prediction. Fans of all 30 teams have been sitting around all offseason wondering if this is the year, and while it’s not likely that any one team will win the World Series, we can honestly say to every baseball fan in the country, “It’s possible.”

Thank you for reading

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tearecrules
2/23
As an Astros fan it does bring me great joy, or at least a feeling there is undoubtedly a German word for, that these analysis are not using my team.
carltondavis
2/23
Could you explain the term delta-WARP?
tearecrules
2/23
I assumed it's the difference between what his original projected WARP was, and what it is with the new projections for increased playing time at the 90% percentile.
jfranco77
2/23
Which is greater? Odds all Phillies hit 90th percentile and all Mets/Nats hit 50th percentile? Odds all Phillies hit 80th percentile and all Mets/Nats hit 40th percentile? Does it matter?
oldbopper
2/23
I thought the Braves were going to challenge the 1962 Mets record but after a second look at this lineup it looks like it will be quite a battle to see whether it is the Phillies or the Braves that don't get to 40 wins. The Mets and Nationals have a truly unfair advantage in the Wild Card race this summer with 38 games against these two clubs. Looking at the bright side I think I can find my Hacking Mass team without having to do too much more work.
tearecrules
2/23
What's working against the Phils or Braves is they have to play each other a bunch. One of them will probably lose the season series and that will give them a leg down in the competition to beat the Mets' record.