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Does the Phillies Offense Always Stink in April?

 

Given yesterday's 10-2 thumpin' of the Astros, this article isn't as timely as it might have been a day or two earlier: following that offensive outburst, the Phils are a more than respectable fourth of the 16 NL teams in runs scored, with 74, and tied for fifth in OPS, with a .796 mark. Still, the bats have been quiet relative to last year's league-best excellence, and the Phillies already have been held to two runs or fewer four times in their first 16 games, a pace that would come out to a fraction over 40 times in a full campaign. By contrast, the team scored two or less 25 times in 162 games last season.

We all know that April hasn't been a whole lot of fun for the Phils or their fans over the last few seasons, and I was wondering if perennially quiet bats might bear some responsibility. That's not exactly right, however: if anything, they've been better the last couple years... and truly atrocious in the last Bowa/first Manuel seasons.

Year/ April record Runs (rank) OPS (rank) 10+ run games
2008 (thru 4/17): 8-8 74 (4) .796 (t-5) 1
2007: 11-14 123 (4) .789 (4) 1
2006: 10-14 108 (t-12) .757 (7) 1
2005: 10-14 93 (14) .698 (14) 2
2004: 10-11 88 (14) .742 (13) 0

Among the big bats, the trend is to fare slightly worse in April than overall--though that's entirely Ryan Howard. If you're confident that the big guy will step it up as the weather warms up, then you're confident that the Phillies will fully revert to form by summer.

Name April OPS Career OPS Difference
Chase Utley .901 .901 --
Jimmy Rollins .745 .773 -.028
Ryan Howard .837 .999 -.162
Pat Burrell .884 .855 +.029

Now if there's only something we can do to maintain that 3.45 team ERA...