Many people are rightly excited by the start the Phillies are off to. Going 5-1 over the initial homestand is cause for celebration, especially since it came at the expense of the Mets and Braves, two teams the Phillies will need to beat often if they want to return to the playoffs. Some of the Phillies are off to hot starts, some are off to alright starts, but that isn’t the kind of optimism that we need. We need to get happy! We need to get excited about what lays ahead. So here are some projections for how the team will obviously finish this year.
Connor Brogdon will win 81 games as a reliever
Getting the decision in three of the team’s first six games will do this to a person. It might seem impossible, but we can fairly easily predict that this will clearly happen because the Phillies are going to use their best relievers so often. Teams often call it a vulture win when a reliever steals a win from a starting pitcher who was effective, but his bullpen couldn’t hold a lead, so I’m not sure what we can call a win where the starter could only go four innings. Brogdon so far has shown that his velocity spike at the end of 2020 is probably real and that he can sustain it over 25-30 pitches in an appearance. We aren’t sure yet how he’ll fare over a 162 game season, but what we are sure of is that he’ll win exactly half of those games, setting a record for most wins by a pitcher that is strictly a reliever.
Speaking of which, that sent our moderator Phrozen down a Stathead (formerly Play Index) rabbit hole, one in which I gladly joined him. He theorized whether or not a reliever has ever won 20 games as a reliever and the two names I threw out before even searching were Hoyt Wilhelm and Mike Marshall. Close, but no cigar. Since 1913 (when the earned run became an official statistic), there have been thirteen pitchers who have amassed 15 or more wins in a season strictly as a reliever.
Three cheers to me for getting Wilhelm and Marshall in there. The thing to notice is the number of innings each pitcher threw in order to get those wins. Now consider how the modern reliever is used and you’ll see that Brogdon getting near 15 wins is a tall task. We have faith in him, though.
Rhys Hoskins will hit 162 doubles
Again, completely plausible. He’s already hit 6, so now all he has to do is hit one a game. Easy!
Doubles have kind of fallen out of fashion. It’s almost a derogatory remark to state that a player only has “doubles power”. Even when you were player in high school, if someone hit the ball and it only made it to the warning track, you were probably screaming “WEIGHT ROOOOOOOOM” to jeer your teammates. But doubles are good! Doubles win games! There is no shame in amassing a large amount of doubles. It seems almost crazy that the record for most doubles in a season (67, by Earl Webb in 1931) hasn’t been broken yet. Of course, in this age of home run obsession, teams would rather that those balls in the gap went over the fence and that same sentiment can ring true with Hoskins. It’s probable that the team would much rather he hit the ball over the fence instead of off it or to it. But were he to finish the season in the neighborhood of, say, 40 doubles to go along with the home runs he’ll undoubtedly get, that would make for a very successful season and set up some very interesting extension talks between him and the team.
If Hoskins were to hit that many doubles, he’d join some pretty lofty company on the team’s all-time list. Here is a list of the players in team history that have hit 45 or more doubles:
45 is obviously more than 40, but still - those are some names there.
The offense, sans pitchers, will strike out 1,539 times
You may be noticing pattern so far with the offense.
They strike out...a lot.
In the games that they have played, other than Thursday’s slugfest, they haven’t hit the ball well yet. They’ve also been designated by the government as a source of renewable energy since their ability to create wind with their whiffing could power half of the state of Idaho. They’ve already struck out as a team 57 times when you don’t include the pitchers. That’s a large amount of striking out. So much so that if they were to continue on this pace, they’ll be in some “elite” company. Here is a list of teams that have struck out 1,500 or more times in a year.
Of course many of these numbers will include pitchers batting, but it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the overall effectiveness of the hitters. There is also the fact that all of these teams have accomplished this feat within the last few years, the earliest being the 2010 Diamondbacks.
It’s what makes many people fear for the game itself in that there isn’t much action when teams strike out this much. The Phillies’ early season whiffing habits could be a result of still getting going as a whole, but they do feature many players who strike out a great deal anyway. As long as they score runs, striking out is tolerated. Should the team go into a slump where they are not pushing men across the plate, the striking out could become a problem.
Now, we know that these projections will not hold up. We’re talking about six games into a slog of a season. It’s still fun to look at and see if any patterns will emerge. These three will most certainly not continue, but that’s what the beginning of the year is for. So let’s hope Connor Brogdon can continue to get those stolen wins, let’s hope Rhys Hoskins doesn’t put too much effort into getting stronger. And by golly, let’s hope this team stops striking out so much!