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Counting our blessings, and other postseason stats

Phillies Stat Notes — Thanksgiving edition

2022 World Series Game 3: Houston Astros v. Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Steve Boyle/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Most of us are thankful for many things this holiday — family and friends, our health, and sharing a Thanksgiving meal, among others. And for anyone frequenting this site, not far from our thoughts is also the Phillies finally breaking through to the postseason for the first time in 11 years, and making an exciting run all the way to the World Series.

In addition to a lot of heroics and thrilling games, the postseason also gave us some noteworthy factoids.

The Phils have played in 26 postseason series of all types, from the League Wildcard (now once) to the World Series (8 times), and now have an even 13-13 record.

They’ve also now played in 120 postseason games, and are again perfectly even at 60-60.

In MLB history, 30 franchises have played 1,747 games in the postseason (including 3 ties). Of the 30 franchises, 13 are over .500 in postseason games; 16 are under .500. The Phillies are the only franchise that’s at exactly .500.

In their eight World Series appearances, they’re now 2-6, arguably the worst record of any team (the Cubs are closest at 3-8, and several teams are 0-2). Over the past 50 years though, things have been looking up.

Nifty Fifty

“Nifty” might be stretching it, but nevertheless there’s some good news in the last half-century. Since 1973, their regular season record is still not stellar: a .503 W-L%, which is ok, good enough for 10th best over that time.

But they’ve had more than their share of postseason action over those last 50 years:

  • only 7 teams have more postseason appearances: NYY, LAD, ATL, STL, OAK, BOS, HOU
  • only 3 have more League championships (and therefore WS appearances): NYY, LAD, STL
  • only 7 have more WS championships: NYY, BOS, OAK, LAD, CIN, SFG, STL

Even these past 50 years began with a lot of postseason losses, from getting swept by the Big Red Machine in 1976, to Black Friday in 1977 and another frustrating loss to the Dodgers in ‘78.

So through 1978, after 96 years of franchise history (including 76 in the World Series era), the Phillies had still not won a single series in the postseason:

0-5 in postseason series
3-17 in postseason games

They missed the postseason entirely in 1979, but after that their fortunes began to change. Since then:

13-8 in postseason series
57-43 in postseason games

That includes a 2-4 record in their six World Series appearances — the four WS losses are tied for most in MLB since 1979, with the Braves (also 2-4) and Cardinals (3-4).


Many Phillies contributed to their deep run, but a few postseason stats merit particular mention:

  • Bryce Harper hit .349/.414/.746 in the 17 games, for a 1.160 OPS. That included 13 extra base hits, tied for third most ever in one postseason — the only 2 players to ever hit more were David Freese in 2011, and Randy Arozarena in 2020, both with 14.
  • Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Rhys Hoskins all hit 6 HRs in the playoffs, tied for second most in any Phillies postseason:

7 - Jayson Werth 2009
6 - Lenny Dykstra 1993, Chase Utley 2009, and Harper-Schwarber-Hoskins 2022
4 - Gary Matthews 1983

  • Win Probability Added captures how much each at bat changed a team’s probability of winning that game. For example a solo homer in the late innings of a tie game is worth more than a solo shot in a blowout.

The Phillies’ biggest hits by WPA this postseason:

.471 - Harper’s “swing of his life” in game 5 of the NLCS
.442 - Jean Segura’s single to tie game 1 of the Wildcard series
.343 - J.T. Realmuto’s 10th inning HR in game 1 of the WS
.251 - Hoskins’ 2-run HR to tie game 4 of the NLCS in the 5th

In Phillies postseason history, Harper and Segura’s hits rank 2nd and 3rd all-time, behind only Jimmy Rollins’ walk-off double to end game 4 of the 2009 NLCS.

And the Phillies’ overall leaders in WPA for the postseason:

2.80 - Harper
2.70 - Hoskins
2.18 - Segura
2.11 - Realmuto
2.10 - Schwarber
2.06 - Castellanos

Also be sure to check out John Stolnis’ top 10 moments of the Phillies’ run.

The World Series

The monster 3-run HR by Yordan Alvarez in Game 6 put the Astros up 3-1 (before they tacked on one more), and proved to be the death knell for the Phillies’s run. It was also the 100th HR given up by Phillies pitching in their postseason history.

Early in the postseason the Phils had also hit their 100th home run of postseason play, and they finished with 120, good for 9th most among all teams. The 24 they hit in this postseason run was one less than their team high set in 2009.

The 2022 World Series was in many ways an exclamation point on recent trends: increasing Ks, declines in the number of balls in play, and declining triples, intentional walks, and sacrifice bunts:

  • It was the 118th World Series, but only the 11th that did not include a triple. The last time that happened? 2008
  • It was only the 8th WS to not include an intentional walk, and only the 6th without a sacrifice bunt.
  • It was the first WS in history without any of those 3 elements (triple, IBB, sac bunt). In fact, before this year there had never been a WS that did not include any of at least 2 of the 3.
  • The strikeout rate of 29.4% was the second highest in Series history, behind only 2020’s 29.7%.
  • The three true outcomes (“TTO”, or HRs, Ks, and Walks), were over 40% of plate appearances for only the second time in WS history, trailing only 2020’s 43.8%.
  • Balls in Play set a new all-time low, with 60.1% of plate appearances (i.e. hits, including HRs, and in-play outs including sacrifice flies, and sacrifice bunts).
  • The two teams’ combined batting average was .203, which is very low (10th lowest ever), but there have been 7 Series with combined averages below the Mendoza line.

BTW stealing in this World Series was around the median, historically (similar to the ‘22 regular season).

This was the last World Series to be played before new rules will be instituted in 2023, including limiting the shift, enforcing a pitch clock, and capping the number of pickoff throws.

Given those changes, the ‘22 World Series could be the last of its kind for many of the above trends, and most fans would be just fine with that.