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April 17, 2023

The Phillies have one of baseball's best offenses, but they also don't...

It's been a really weird Phillies season so far. They have a losing record and the pitching has been beyond frustrating for the team and fans alike.

The offense has also been firing on all cylinders with a bevy of incredible performances this season and yet, they keep losing. It's still mid-April and they are already six games back in the NL East, even though they have four players in the top 21 (of 187 qualified hitters) in batting average and three in the top 11 in total hits.

What the heck is going on? We dove into some of the numbers through 16 games and here's what we found:

They have the best batting average in all of baseball

The Phillies as a team are hitting .293 through 16 games, which is absolutely bonkers. They have the most total hits of all 30 teams by 12, the most doubles by three, and they also have the most triples. In addition, their 266 total bases are the most in the National League.

There is an element of luck worth mentioning, as Philadelphia's .371 batting average on balls in play is the highest in the league by a country mile, implying that they've been hitting the ball where the defense ain't — which is often something you can't really teach. The squad has six regular hitters with a batting average of .279 or better, including Bryson Stott (.380, 16-game hit streak), Brandon Marsh (.378) and Alec Bohm (.350). Marsh also leads the entire league in slugging (.756).

But... they have just 72 RBI

The Phillies are 13th in RBI this season and 12th in runs scored. Which is not what you would expect from a team hitting at such a high rate. 

And... they have just 15 home runs

Another clear knock against the Phillies is that they've had to work hard for their runs. Just 15 homers so far as a team puts them in 22nd compared to the rest of MLB. Turner and Nick Castellanos have yet to leave the ballpark in 2023. You would think playing in Citizens Bank Park would help with that — but so far it has not.

And... they don't walk much

If you look at their .293 batting average as a team and how much better it is than all the other teams, you would expect them to also have the best on base percentage. But they do not. Philly has drawn just 46 walks, the ninth fewest in baseball this season. And as a result, their on base rate falls to fourth in the league. The patience is lacking. You can be sure they do miss Rhys Hoskins, who made a living on walks (and home runs too, admittedly).

They have the most at bats with runners in scoring position

No team so far, even those with more than Philadelphia's 16 games played, has had more opportunities with runners in scoring position than the Phillies' 165 situational at bats. Also, quite interestingly, they have the most hits with RISP in the National League with 43. However, you can probably guess where this is going...

But... they have just 50 RBI with RISP

As we mentioned, the Phillies have had 165 official at bats with runners on second, third or both. They've generated just 50 RBI in those spots. That's 17th in the league. For some stark contrast, the Rangers — a team expected to fall short of a playoff spot this season — has 66 RBI in 132 at bats with RISP. And this comes after the Phillies' ridiculous Sunday performance that saw them go 11-for-27 (.407) with runners in scoring position. Imagine how bad their stats would be without their 13-run, 22-hit performance against the Reds?

And... they are streaky as hell

The Phillies have scored 75 runs in 15 games, for a pretty even five runs per game. That's respectable — in 2022 during their pennant-winning campaign they scored 4.61 per game. However, take away their 15 runs on April 10, eight runs on April 14 and the 13 they generated Sunday and they've scored exactly 3.0 runs per game in their other 13 games this season.

For whatever reason, the Phillies' offense has not been able to find much consistency. Eight times they've failed to score more than three runs this season. 

It's been five series. There are 146 games left this season. It would be premature and annoying to make any kind of presumptions so far about this Phillies offense. It is clearly extremely talented. They will probably hit less, hit more consistently, and score runs. Still, it's very interesting to look at the numbers with this small sample size. 

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