Phillies 2012 Offense: Worst Offense Ever?

The Phillies have scored 37 runs in 13 games. They have walked only 22 times and have just one more extra base hit. The team that used to be known for its power has only 6 home runs. The team that used to be known for reasonable patience at the plate makes us long for Ryan Howard's plate approach. This offense is bad, really bad.

But is the offense as bad as it seems? Well, yes, it is. If the Phillies keep this up, they'd have the worst offense in the history of the modern era in baseball.

Right now, the Phillies are averaging 2.85 runs per game. Since 1961, when baseball expanded to a 162 game schedule, no team has scored less than 2.86 runs per game. The dubious record for worst offense since 1961 goes to the 1968 Chicago White Sox, who scored 463 runs over the course of a 162 game season.

The fourteen worst teams, sorted by runs per game, are all from 1972 or earlier. To find a team of more modern vintage with such a putrid offense, we have to go to the 15th worst offense, brought to us by the 1981 Toronto Blue Jays, who averaged 3.10 runs per game. Of course, thanks to the baseball strike, they didn't play a full season (only 106 games). So if we truly want to find a post-1972 team that ranks with the worst, we have to look to the 20th worst modern team, the 2010 Seattle Mariners. They played a full 162 game season and scored only 513 runs, good for a 3.17 average. Even that, compared to the 2012 Phillies, sounds pretty good though.

If average runs don't suit your fancy, then how about comparing the Phils' on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS to teams in the past? Well, they look pretty putrid there too.

The Phillies have a .280 on-base percentage this year. Of the 1326 team years since 1961, only two have had an on-base percentage worse than .280, and both have been before 1973. The 1965 and 1968 New York Mets had OBPs of .273 and .277, respectively. Of more recent vintage, the closest in the worst-OPS contest are, again, the 1981 Blue Jays (.284, ranked 10th worst), the 1976 Montreal Expos (.291, ranked 23rd worst), and the 2011 Mariners (.292, ranked 29th worst).

With slugging percentage, the Phillies' current .325 looks slightly better. Since 1961, 14 teams have been worse, with the worst being the 1972 Texas Rangers, at a ridiculously paltry .290. However, none of the teams worse than the Phillies' current SLG played after 1972. To find the worst post-1972 team, you have to look to the 1986 St. Louis Cardinals, with a .327 SLG. But think about that for a second - a team that had 262 stolen bases (3rd highest total since 1961), including a now-unimaginable 107 from Vince Coleman, had a better slugging percentage than the current Phils.

Of course, with the components being so terrible, it should come as no surprise that the Phils' current .605 OPS ranks among the worst ever. Eight teams since 1961 have been worse than the current Phils - with the 1972 Texas Rangers "leading" the way at .579. Of course, all of the teams worse than the Phils are from 1972 or earlier. The 17th-ranked 1981 Blue Jays are the worst team from 1973 forward, with a .614 OPS.

Thankfully, there's one huge difference between all of these teams and the current Phillies' offense. All of these historically-awful teams played a full season. The current Phillies have played just 13 games.

(And they also have the 2012 Pirates' offense performing even worse in every category - 2.17 runs per game, .205/.252/.287 triple slash line for a .540 OPS. This would truly be the worst modern offense . . . by a huge margin.)

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