The Phils have hit the magic 21 game point into the season. What's that? You're not familiar with the 21 game mark of the season? Well, you obviously aren't schooled in the important postings over at the Renegade Phan Phorum.
Last year, 21 games in, I compared the Phils' offense of 2005 to its 21-game offense of 2004. The comparison showed that, despite its early offensive struggles, the 2005 team was better than the 2004 team in all significant respects other than power. And, this ultimately forecasted the rest of the season, as the offense finished the season second in the NL in runs but eighth in home runs.
So, how does the team shape up in comparison this year?
Let's go right to the chart. Here's the comparison of the team at 21 games for the past three seasons:
Looking at these numbers, the team's offense is in good shape compared to previous years. Its power (HR and SLG) has surged to a higher level than 2004, and its overall offensive production (R, OPS, RC, RC/27) is significantly higher. There is an area of concern however: the team's patience is suffering. The team has seen a significantly lower number of walks (20 less then last year; 9 less than the year before). Its OBP is higher, but that comes from batting average, not patience at the plate.
The absolute numbers don't tell the whole story. Here's a chart with the team's NL ranking for each category instead:
Here, we see that the team is in the same position or ahead of the NL curve, compared to the previous years, in almost every category. Again, except for walks.
Using the same logic as last year, based on the team's slow starts that resulted in excellent offensive output by the end of the year, this year's lukewarm start may translate to big things by the end of the year. If the hitting improves as the season progresses, as it has in the past, this offense will be huge.
This offense is different than last year though. Last year's production was powered by the team's obscene on-base skills. This year's production, though, is more power driven. It's a riskier way to rely on scoring runs (if one of the power guys goes down, the team could really struggle), but if the team can keep this pace up, the offense should be spectacular.
The pitching . . . that's another story.