Last night while recording a new episode of The Felske Files, I blurted out a win prediction for the Phillies of "85." John Stolnis’ reaction was to
spit coffee everywhere and threaten to burn my house down politely suggest that this number may be a little high, and that his guess was a far saner "79."
I openly admit to being infected with toxic optimism for these New Phillies, so young and cool and experimental with their hair. But tragically, this has affected my widely respected objectivity that I have maintained so stoically and professionally through the years. In response to this, I was up all night, staring out a window at the stray cat fight club outside of my home, considering how to regain my lost integrity. The only solution I could muster was to gather all of the worst things people have said about the Phillies leading up to the 2017 season and put it all in one place in an attempt to counteract the joy that led to me overreaching in regards to their win total.
J.P. Crawford needs to stop reading about how good he is and start working to show everyone how good he is.
We'll open with a doozy that by now we've all seen. Sports Illustrated's MLB preview featured sections on all of the teams written by rival scouts, who broke down their enemies player by player. Obviously, the shortstop considered the Phillies' best prospect warranted a mention, and this scout felt like J.P. Crawford was spending too much time googling himself and not enough time hitting .600. That's quite an assumption to make about a man with the loyalty of the last living direwolf...
This ESPN MLB Preview doesn’t mention the Phillies.
I mean, it's centered around the idea of Who Will Make the Playoffs, but still. You can find the copy space for "The Phillies? No."
They have some serious depth issues. Anything other than exceptional health could get ugly fast.
In FiveThirtyEight’s minimally researched back-and-forth that seems to exist mostly to incorporate emojis into baseball commentary, the uninformed analysts managed to skip over a pretty crucial part of baseball analysis: the players.
The Phillies section of FiveThirtyEight’s MLB preview mentions Ryan Howard, and no other players. https://t.co/h3PKgaYtXd— Dan McQuade (@dhm) March 31, 2017
As far as "depth issues" go, it’s difficult to measure the depth of a team comprised largely of young players who are still being measured for their output. But, again, you would have to know who they are and what sort of skills they have and how many of them are available and what their recent history has been to reach any sort of conclusion. Unless you’re FiveThirtyEight, which as its been proven time and time again, is an outlet that has clearly come up with some kind of algorithm to bypass all that while still speaking confidently on any subject. If only they’d share their secret of streamlining knowledge with the rest of the world. Curse them!
Other teams should be envious of their starting pitching, but they won’t be able to score enough runs to win.
A-ha! But see, that’s what people said about the Phillies last year, except for the part about pitching, and the double jeopardy laws of baseball prevent the same prediction from being used twice!
Your honor, the defense rests.
2017 projected record: 67-95 (fifth in NL East)
Dan Szymborski's ZiPS machine did not care for the Phillies' chances, either, spitting out a suspiciously low number after lab coat-donned Szymborski input the data necessary for such a calculation, which includes Herrera bat flip trajectory (HFL!), Nola hair waviness (NOLHAIR~), and Pete Mackanin nonplussed-itude (- -). The only thing this really tells us is that futuristic machines likely hate the Phillies as much as the Phillies once hated them. But it's a new day.
If players they're counting on get injured or prove they aren't quite ready for the big time, Philadelphia could conceivably fall to 95 losses.
--Mark Townsend, Yahoo! Sports
This is taken from a gently worded section called "WORST CASE SCENARIO," so it's easy to see how tragically realistic the projection is. I mean, even Philadelphians aren't this negative going into the season. If anything, this year, people are having a harder time knowing who the players are (SEE: FiveThirtyEight's section above) rather than having negative thoughts about them. Like I said. New day.
The death blow from Yahoo!, however, comes from site lead Jeff Passan, who projects the Phillies at 65 wins. Truly, this number is the reason any of this is being written; it's why I put my win total at 85, just to get some more positive juju out there in the universe.
But Passan is not alone. Insiders have informed me that Baseball Prospectus founder Joe Sheehan put the Phillies in dead last for the 2017 season in his email newsletter. Sheehan at least didn't believe the results of his formulae when looking at the resulting spreadsheet - he says the Padres and A's will be worse in his mind - but he did drop in gems like "I don't buy the starting pitching" and mentioned the Phillies project to only score two more runs than their putrid offense did last year.
So, where does that leave us? Well, it's still opening day, and the Phillies are still back. Assuming the weather holds up in Ohio, I mean. And at the end of the day, isn't "watching baseball" all we're really trying to do today, anyway?
Now let's all calmly throw all of the items off our desks, pick them back up while co-workers walk by and whisper unsubstantiated rumors about our mental health to each other, and continue pushing forward. Because there's no potentially correct statement any very intelligent analyst (or analyst working for FiveThirtyEight) could put out there that could ruin today.
Except a Cincinnati-area meteorologist. I guess.