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May 31, 2024

What can history tell us about the Phillies' MLB-best record after two months?

Even after a recent rough stretch, the Phillies are still holding MLB's best record as of May 31. But it that level of success sustained into October? Here's a look back through recent history to see.

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Bryce-Harper-Swing-Phillies-Giants-5.29.24-MLB.jpg D. Ross Cameron/USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper and the Phillies still have a lot of season left to play.

The Phillies enter the last night in May still as baseball's top team, even after a recent 2-4 rough stretch out West

Just about two months down, the Phils jumped out to their greatest start ever as a franchise, and at a certain point, were winning at a 2001 Mariners-level pace. 

Manager Rob Thomson remembers how things ended for that historic Seattle club though, and of course, the season isn't anywhere close to done after two months. The whole club knows that

But what can recent history tell us about the teams who stood at the top of the hill entering the summer? 

Well, in short: Most stayed there for a long time, but then the postseason came and the script changed. 

The Phillies can't rest on their laurels in that respect, though it wasn't like they were going to anyway. 

First, here's a look at MLB's top five teams as of early Friday afternoon: 

 MLB RankW-L Pct. Run Diff. 
1) Phillies 39-18 .684 +93 
2) Yankees 39-19 .672 +97 
3) Guardians 37-19 .661 +74 
4) Orioles 35-19 .648 +69 
5) Dodgers 36-22 .621 +82 

A bit more of a bunched-up group now, but the Phillies have the edge in win percentage. They'll be shooting to be the first club to reach 40 wins with their return home Friday night to face the Cardinals. The Yankees will also be trying to do so on the West Coast against the Giants. 

The Phillies are going into Friday night leading the banged-up Braves by 6.5 games in the NL East.

Now on to the records for MLB's top teams on May 31 over the past six years – using Bryce Harper's first season as a Phillie in 2019 as the cutoff:

Year Best Team W-L Run Diff. 
2024 Phillies 39-18 +93 
2023 Rays 40-18 +119 
2022 Yankees 34-15 +79 
2021 Rays 35-20 +63 
2020* Dodgers 39-17 +122 
2019 Twins 38-18 +103 

*COVID-shortened season

You're going to see a common trend here. 

• The 2023 Rays (99-63) faded down the stretch of the regular season, surrendering the AL East crown to the breakout Baltimore Orioles, then went out with an immediate whimper in a 2-0 Wild Card sweep to the eventual champion Texas Rangers. 

• The 2022 Yankees (99-63) tore straight through the 162-game schedule, then made it to the ALCS against the Astros, who tore straight through everyone in the postseason until the Phillies were at least able to give them a bit of a fight in the World Series before falling as well. 

• The 2021 Rays (100-62) dominated the regular season in a notoriously brutal division, then dipped out of the ALDS to the Wild Card Red Sox 3-1, even after Randy Arozarena did this:

• The 2020 MLB season didn't start until July 23 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was only 60 games long. With that in mind, the date of comparison for the Dodgers (43-17) here was shifted from May 31 to September 23, which was two months after this season started, though four days away from when it ended. It's not ideal, but hardly anything about this season was. Anyway, the Dodgers, who had a growing reputation as playoff chokers after numerous dominant regular seasons only to fall short again and again in October, won the World Series in what became a sprint to it. It was a weird World Series. 

• The 2019 Twins (101-61) caught many in baseball off guard after winning only 78 games the year before, but did so in what had been a relatively weak AL Central. The Yankees swept them in the ALDS, 3-0.

So the recent history of the top team in baseball after the first two months is a lot of early exits in October plus one World Series title in a year that, hopefully, never has to be repeated again. 

The Phillies have to keep their foot on the gas.

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