This has been an interesting year to say the least. One of our MVPs has gone into the toilet. Our lights out closer's lights have been out. We actually made a trade for a top class pitcher and we picked up possibly the best pitcher ever in his prime. Most people would never have guessed that all of this would have occurred this year and that the Phillies would be 8 up with a handful of game to go.
How are we doing it? Comes down to the basics. At first glance to the untrained eye that "watches" the game, we are no good at the basics. But we are, check it out.
The most basic and fundamental rule in baseball (usually not spoken though) is:
Take what is free, but make them earn it.
Never heard that before? Probably cause I just made it up, but in concept, it is the most valuable aspect in all of baseball. Walk a lot, don't give up the walk = success. Sounds simple right? Better yet, strikeout many more than you walk and let your defense do the rest.
BB/K: #1 and by a decent margin
On the other side of the ball...
Strikeouts: #10 (with Howard)
We have the best walk to strikeout ratio from our hitters and the fifth best walk to strikeout ratio from our hitters. That will likely result in success in almost any season. I'd like to see some more patience from our hitters, but I think it might not be their fault. We have so many good hitters in a row that pitchers loathe to throw balls to our middle guys. While the walks aren't as high as they have been in past years, the strikeouts have dropped a ton too.
That is a double edged sword as well as many of our players almost need to strikeout to succeed. That may sound counter intuitive, but consider it a necessary byproduct of power. Howard HAS to be willing to take borderline pitches that he may pop out or ground out on in order to force a pitcher to throw him a meatball he can crush. Sometimes it works (walk or homerun) but sometimes is doesn't (strikeout). But it is almost a necessary evil.
A few other stats people might not realize that have helped us to one degree or another.
Stolen Base Percentage: #1 and by a lot. Always good to not lose runners on base.
GIDP: #1 (we have 86 and Houston, in last has 141)
What do these mean? It means we aren't losing players on base like other teams are. When one of our boys gets on, he either scores or he gets stranded. That is a good thing. Losing players to CS or GIDP is obviously a rally, killer (kinda like the homerun). Phillies may be the best baserunning team in the league (and probably by a lot).
What have we figured out? It is good to get on base for free and even better to not get thrown out while there. Let your four 30+ homerun guys do their thing and drive you in. I think that will equate to good success in the playoffs. It sure did last year.