If the Phillies Offense Truly Awakens, Watch Out

With the offense seemingly awakening from a long slumber over the last four days (28 runs in 4 games), the Phillies suddenly have a look and feel that matches their record.  And what's remarkable about the team's performance is that it looks so easy.

In fact, it seems as if all this team needs to do is score a few runs and the pitching will take care of the rest.  After all, it's really hard to imagine the team losing a game in which it scores four or five runs or more.

Observing the offense over the past few days led me to look into this -- how is the team performing when it scores over a certain number of runs compared to years past?  And what I found is quite astonishing.

First, here's a chart showing the team's record over the past several years in games in which it scores 3 or fewer runs compared to 4 or more.  The last two lines are first the actual numbers for 2011 and then the projected numbers for 2011 (projections in italics).

3 or under 4 or over
G W-L % G W-L %
2007 45 4-41 0.089 117 85-32 0.726
2008 59 12-47 0.203 103 80-23 0.777
2009 58 10-48 0.172 104 83-21 0.798
2010 75 24-51 0.320 87 73-14 0.839
2011 28 11-17 0.393 22 20-2 0.909
2011 91 36-55 0.393 71 65-6 0.909

What this chart shows is the power of the amazing pitching the Phillies have gotten this year.  When the team scores 3 or fewer runs, it's record is bad -- the team wins just less than 40% of its games.  However, the past years put that number in perspective, as the team is winning games in which it scores 3 or fewer runs at a much better rate this year than it has in the past.  In other words, the pitching gives the Phillies a much better chance to win low scoring games this year.

However, when the team can score 4 runs or more, we see a huge difference.  In those games, the team is winning over 90% of its games.  And the past puts this number in perspective as well, as this is the best clip the team has had in these games since 2007.  Again, in other words, in years past the pitching staff might have blown these games, but this year, they're a sure thing.

The numbers are even more remarkable comparing games in which the team scores 4 or fewer with games in which it scores 5 or more.

4 or under 5 or over
G W-L % G W-L %
2007 68 15-53 0.221 94 74-20 0.787
2008 81 24-57 0.296 81 68-13 0.840
2009 82 25-57 0.305 80 68-12 0.850
2010 83 30-53 0.361 79 67-12 0.848
2011 33 15-18 0.455 17 16-1 0.941
2011 107 49-58 0.455 55 52-3 0.941

Again, what we see here shows the power of pitching.  The Phillies have an almost even chance of winning games this year when they score 4 or fewer runs, a big improvement over years past.  But, when they score 5 or more runs, they almost never lose.  In years past, that hasn't been true, as they've still lost a bunch of these high scoring games.

As is, the team is on pace to win 101 games, which would tie the franchise record (from 1976 and 1977) and would guarantee a playoff spot and very likely the NL East and an NL crown.

But, both of these charts show how slightly more offense can put the Phillies in even better shape.  They're on pace to have 16 fewer 4 or more run games than they had last year and 22 fewer 5 or more run games.  If they can cut those numbers in both categories in half, it would mean an additional 3 or 4 wins over the course of the year.  If they can match those categories from last year, they could approach 110 wins.

With a team on pace to win 101 games, asking for a few more wins might be greedy.  However, with this pitching staff and an awakening offense, we might be justified in our greed.

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