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Phillies Are Very Definition of Mediocre

One day after they're no-hit, the Phillies win 9-0. Such is the life of a fan of a mediocre baseball team.

The Phillies celebrated a win on Monday, but can't string them together.
The Phillies celebrated a win on Monday, but can't string them together.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When you watch the Phillies annihilate another baseball team like they did in Monday's 9-0 blowout of the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, your mind starts to wonder.

Ryan Howard blasted a home run to center field and had 5 RBIs, reminiscent of his power-hitting glory days.

Ben Revere went 3-for-5 and raised his average to .291, making one think maybe he can be a decent lead-off hitter.

Chase Utley went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and you realize you're still watching one of the best second baseman in the game.

John Mayberry gets a pinch hit home run off a lefty, and you see a guy who can still be a potentially useful right-handed bat off the bench.

Kyle Kendrick goes 6.2 innings, inducing one ground ball after another, making it seem like he's not a terrible guy to have at the back of a rotation.

The bullpen of Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo were untouched in 1.1 innings of work, seeking to make one believe they are reliable late-relief arms.

Yes, all of these good things happened, and they make you think certain things. The Phils, at times, have had the look of a contender; when their starter pitches well, their offense hits home runs and drives in men with runners on base, and the defense catches the ball cleanly and throws it to the right base.

When the Phillies look like they did on Monday, you can see why some think this team still has a chance to contend for a playoff spot this year.

Unfortunately, the Phils don't play like they did Monday with any regularity or consistency. And that irregularity and inconsistency is precisely what makes them mediocre.

One day earlier, this same Phillies team was no-hit by 34-year-old Josh Beckett and, in the process, played one of their sloppiest defensive games of the season. And that's saying a lot, because the Phils' defense has been pretty brutal all season long.

The Phils' longest win streak this year in three games. Last year, they had a five-game winning streak, but only did that once. And in 2012, they actually put together a seven-game winning streak during their 81-81 season. But they haven't had anything longer than a five-gamer in over a year and a half.

The Phillies do no excel at any facet of baseball. They are either right around league average or worse in just about every single area of team baseball, as @schmenkman has noted numerous times in his stat updates.

Offensively, it's a mixed bag. Their 3.2 team fWAR ranks them tied for 12th out of 15 NL teams. Their 192 runs scored is 12th. They are 7th in stolen bases, 13th in home runs, tied for 8th in slugging, 6th in on-base percentage and 8th in batting average.

Of course, the Phils have played up to five fewer games than any other team, so it's important to look at their runs/game which, at 4.00, puts them 5th in the National League. However, they've been maddeningly inconsistent.

They scored 14 runs on Opening Day, then scored 2 and 3 the following two days. Then they scored 7, followed, 2, 3, 4, 4 and 2. A four-game blitz then followed in which they scored 6, 5, 4, and 6 runs, followed by a stretch in which they scored 0, 1, 1, 1, and then exploded once again for 10 runs and 7 runs in the following two games.

And that was just the first 18 games of the season. Since May 14, they've scored 0, 0, 12, 8, 6, 5, 3, 0, 5, 0, and 9 runs in those 11 games. How on earth is any team supposed to sustain momentum going like that? In all, the Phils have been shut out seven times this year, six times at home, which is incredible when you consider they're 5th in runs per game.

Pitching? The entire staff's ERA (4.07) is 13th in the NL. The starters' ERA (3.89) is 12th and the bullpen's (4.47) is 14th. And defensively, their Fangraphs Def of -13.7 is last in the NL, and their UZR of -11.7 is 12th.

But the number that shows their true nature is their run differential of -27, second-worst in the National League. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks, with a staggering -66 run differential, is worse than the Phils. One simply cannot climb far up the standings with a negative run differential, even in an extremely winnable division full of injury-ravaged teams like the NL East.

In other words, the Phillies have no "strength." Their rotation is not among the best in the league, nor is their offense, bullpen or defense.

Good teams all have at least one specific area in which they are better than everyone else. The A's, Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Brewers, Angels, Giants, and Tigers all have starting rotations with ERAs in the Top 10. The Nationals, Giants, Braves, A's and Brewers all have Top 10 bullpens. The Rockies, A's, Blue Jays, White Sox, Angels, Marlins, Indians, Dodgers, Rangers, Tigers and Giants have lineups that score lots of runs. And defensively, the Angels, Rockies, Braves, A's, Cardinals, Marlins and Brewers all play top-10 defense.

Those are all teams with records over .500 and are true playoff contenders.

Sure, there are some losing teams that actually do excel in one area or another. But their deficiencies in other areas counter-balance those strengths. For the Phillies, they are middle-of-the-pack-to-lousy in just about every area.

It's easy to see why Monday's 9-0 win over Colorado, a very good team, could get people excited. But the Phils have done this before. They've shown grit and bounce-back-ability after tough losses this year, and that's a good thing.

But it doesn't make them a "good" team.

Good teams sustain winning streaks. Good teams have SOME area of their game in which they are above average. The Phillies do not.

Mediocre teams play Jekyll-and-Hyde. They give you whiplash. They are inconsistent and drive you crazy.

That's what the Phillies are right now, and there aren't a lot of reasons to think it's going to change anytime soon.