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Will the Phillies be in first place by the All-Star Break?

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Chances are good we might just be able to talk about “the first-place Phillies” during the All-Star Break.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the first week of the season when we were panicking about how terrible Gabe Kapler was and how he was ruining the Phillies, likely for the rest of the franchise’s history? Well, maybe not that bad, but the concern was real. The team was finally entering the upswing phase of its re-building, and the first week was undeniably dismal.

But here we are with eleven games left before the All-Star Break, and there is a very real chance that the Phillies will be in first place by then.

This observation shouldn’t be that controversial. Right now, the Phillies are just one game behind the Atlanta Braves and five games ahead of the Washington Nationals:

Over the course of the ten days between now and the Break, the Braves play eight games, while the Phillies play eleven (a double-header on Tuesday). The Phillies just had two days off in the past four days, so I’m not worried about the team being tired out over the next ten days, so I’ll put that aside. And we shouldn’t worry about the flailing Nationals right now, given the huge gap for the short period of time we’re talking about.

What gives me confidence in the Phillies entering the All-Star Break in first place is the different opponents the two teams face. Here’s how it breaks down, with each opposing team’s winning percentage in parentheses:

Phillies: 3 Pirates (.465), 4 Mets (.410), 1 Orioles (.279), 3 Marlins (.404)

Braves: 3 Brewers (.598), 2 Blue Jays (.465), 3 Diamondbacks (.545)

Now, there are no guarantees in baseball, but I’ll take the Phillies’ schedule over the Braves’ every day of the week that ends in Y. Not only do the Braves start a three-game series tonight against the Brewers, the best team in the NL, but the worst team the Braves face over this stretch (the Blue Jays) has the same winning percentage as the best team the Phillies face (the Pirates).

Add in the mix that the Phillies are working a four-game winning streak while the Braves are nursing a three-game losing streak, and the conditions are looking awfully favorable for the Phillies.

In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that the Phillies could be in first place by more than one game by the All-Star Break. A reasonable guess would be that the Phillies go 7-4 over the next eleven games against inferior teams, while the Braves go 3-5 during this stretch. That would give the Phillies a 54-41 record against the Braves’ 52-42 record, good for a 1.5 game lead.

Again, predictions over the short term are difficult in baseball. But, with the difference in the strength of schedule coming up, it’s a pretty good bet to think that we might be rooting for a first-place team very soon.

Poll

Who will be in first place at the All-Star Break?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Phillies by more than 2
    (150 votes)
  • 56%
    Phillies by less than 2
    (272 votes)
  • 10%
    Braves by less than 2
    (51 votes)
  • 1%
    Braves by more than 2
    (7 votes)
480 votes total Vote Now