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The Paradoxical Effect

Give a kid Benadryl, and most likely that kid will get sleepy.  But, for a very very small number of kids, there's a paradoxical effect.  Give that kid Benadryl, and that kid will get jazzed up, as if you gave the kid meth.  It's called a paradoxical effect, in medical jargon.

Take away one of a team's star players, and you'd expect that team to do worse.  But, for the Phillies, there's been some sort of paradoxical effect going on in the past two years whenever they've lost a star player.  Check out this chart:

Player Dates Out Without Player With Player
Aaron Rowand 5/11 - 5/26/06; 8/22 - 10/1/06 29-23 (.558) 56-54 (.509)
Bobby Abreu 7/29 - 10/1/06 38-23 (.623) 47-54 (.465)
Tom Gordon 5/2 - 7/16/07 34-32 (.515) 18-17 (.514)
Ryan Howard 5/11 - 5/23/07 8-4 (.667) 44-45 (.494)
Brett Myers since 5/24/07 29-26 (.527) 23-23 (.500)
Freddy Garcia since 6/8/07 21-19 (.525) 31-30 (.508)

By my recollection, this is the list of important Phillies who have missed time over the last two seasons. All but Abreu were because of injury. Abreu, of course, was traded at the trade deadline last year.

As is apparent (and completely paradoxical) from comparing the last two columns of the chart, the Phillies as a team have improved their play when each of these guys has been away from the team. It ranges from the miniscule (one game difference with Gordon out) to the huge (when Abreu and Howard were out).

I would think that much of the credit here goes to Charlie Manuel in keeping his team focused and playing well despite adversity. Of course, the other players deserve credit as well.

In the wake of Chase Utley's injury yesterday, we have to hope the Phillies' version of the paradoxical effect continues.