Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Phillies offensive woes are getting ridiculous

After yet another loss where the offense barely registered a heartbeat, the Phillies offense has gone from concern to serious issue. Sure, lately they have been fielding lineups that feature Michael Martinez and John Mayberry in prominent roles, but it's hard to have much confidence in this group even when everyone is healthy.

Just how bad have things gotten? Since whipping the Nationals in three straight in early May, the Phillies have scored just 29 runs in 11 games, an average of 2.6 runs per game. In that span of games, the Phillies team batting average has dropped from an already low .265 to a paltry .252. Also in that span, the OBP has dropped 14 points and slugging has dropped 15. No matter who the opposition throws out there, from a stud like Josh Johnson to a dud like Jake Westbrook, the Phillies haven't been able to muster anything with the bats.

Through this stretch of ineptitude with the bats, the Phillies have still managed to maintain the best record in the National League. While some of that has to do with the relative weakness of the NL, the pitching has done more than enough to hold up its end of the bargain, allowing a league-low 134 runs this season. From the excellent starting pitching to an above-average bullpen, there is nothing to complain about with the Phillies pitchers. Hopefully the offense can wake up this season and not continue to waste the great outings the Phillies aces are giving them day in and day out.

With the return of Chase Utley on the horizon, there is some reason for hope for the Phillies offense. Given that Utley is not going to be himself for a few months, though, he can't be looked at as an instant savior. It's time to embrace the fact that this isn't the 2008 Phillies anymore; they have clearly morphed from a team that would mash with anyone to a pitching-first, defense-second team that is going to try to win games with timely hits. While it may prove successful, it's going to lead to a lot of headaches and nail-biting.

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