Jumping aboard the recent stretch of topics here regarding the Phillies current success, I'd like to take this moment to refute a few misconceptions about this team and why they are performing as they are. We knew we'd hear the inevitable, "Now Abreu is gone, this team is fun to watch." comments. They range from this team enjoying itself more, to playing harder to playing smarter (whatever that means). I'll be the first to admit I have no idea what impact a player leaving has on a team. There is no possible way to gauge the effects as you would need to simultaneously have him here and no here at the same time. Either way, I want to focus on a few things I have heard recently.
"This team plays more small (little) ball. They don't need homeruns to score."
Now, we can let our perceptions of what is happening determine our reaction to the Phils good play, or we can just look at the numbers as they are proof.
With Bobby: 1.27 HR/G
Without Bobby: 1.79 HR/G
Now, I don't know if the Phils need homeruns to score, but they are certainly making much more use of them now than they have in the past. Personally, I like it, but let's not attribute it to something foolish like small (little) ball.
"The Phils put the ball in play more and strikeout less."
With Bobby: 7.38 K/G
Without Bobby: 7.42 K/G
Those numbers are essentially even, which shows me that this is another obvious misconception. Maybe people will want to think that they strikeout in key spots less now, but that leaves it much more subjective with respect to what a "key" spot it.
"The Phils are more aggressive at the plate. They aren't looking to walk anymore."
With Bobby: 3.6 BB/G
Without Bobby: 4.26 BB/G
This one is a little bit skewed due to the number of intentional walks Howard and Nunez (yes, Nuni) have received. But, the point remains that the team still gets it's fair share of walks. Maybe it is due mostly to Dellucci's Abreu imitation with respect to patience, but there really hasn't been much of a change.
What does this all mean? It means that these though processes are all pretty much wrong and this team is continuing to do what it did before, but just better. Teams have good streaks and bad streaks, but rarely do they change to an extreme just because one player has left. Maybe it will eventually happen when Burrell is gone. But as of right now, they are the same Phillies, just doing it a bit better than before.