It's sometimes really hard to see the silver linings in this Phillies season, but there's a really thin one that's worth noting right now - the Phillies offense has not been terrible over the past two weeks; in fact, it's been quite good. In a season like this, that's worth celebrating.
Just how good? Well, let's consider the last 15 games, starting with the last Cardinals game. Over the course of those 15 games, the Phillies have had their only 2 double-digit runs games of the season. They've also scored 7 or more runs 6 times, something they did only 3 times in the first 70 games of the season. For this team, that's an offensive explosion.
How about a chart to prove it? Here's the first 70 games versus the last 15 games for the Phillies:
Starting with the last column, the Phillies have been averaging 80% more runs per game over the last 15 games than they did over the first 70. In fact, their 5.4 runs per game over this time period matches the Toronto Blue Jays' best-in-baseball 5.4 runs per game over the entire season and far outpaces the best-in-the-NL Arizona Diamondbacks' 4.6 runs per game. This is quite a surge for the Phillies.
Can they keep it up? They certainly are a better offensive team now with Maikel Franco in the lineup, Ben Revere having a great second-third of the season, Chase Utley out of the lineup (oh it hurts to write that!), and Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis coming waking up from their long slumbers following their hot starts.
But, there's good reason to think that much of this offensive surge is luck. The team hasn't shown a markedly different approach at the plate (K/BB rate has gone down by just a little). Meanwhile, the team has gotten much luckier on balls in play. The team's .281 BABIP over the first 70 games is low, but only a bit lower than the team's .292 BABIP in 2014. Over the last 15 games, the team's .344 BABIP is clearly unsustainable, as it's higher than even the best team in baseball in this regard, the Tigers at .334.
That difference shows up in the other stats. The increase of about 60 points in BABIP is almost exactly how much the team's batting average and on-base percentage have increased over the past 15 games. That's not at all a coincidence for a team that hasn't shown better patience at the plate.
The one positive here is that the team's power has increased. For the first 70 games, the team had a .112 ISO, and that has gone up to .145 over the past 15 games. If that can continue, even with a fall-from-grace in BABIP, the team's offense should be better going forward, even if far from as good as it's been over the past 15 games.
Of course, the Phillies have not been able to take advantage of this offensive explosion because of pretty terrible pitching. In fact, their winning percentage has been almost identical over these two stretches:
Pythagoras says that they were slightly lucky over the first 70 games (should have lost 2 more games) and somewhat more unlucky over the past 15 games (should have won 2 more), but still, a team giving up almost 6 runs per game has no basis for complaining that the baseball gods have been bad to them.
We'll take our small pleasures where we can get them in this lost season. It won't last, and it's not translating to better overall results, but the Phillies offense recently has been pretty good - we should all enjoy it while it's happening.