March 29, 2023
The Phillies have a task ahead they haven't faced in 13 years: they're looking to repeat as National League champions and head back to the World Series. The Fightins limped into the postseason last fall, but with a spirited run featuring heroics from Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and others, they powered their way to the Fall Classic before ultimately falling to a juggernaut Astros squad.
The Phils were underdogs, right where Philadelphia likes to be, in 2022. That won't be the case at all in 2023, even in a stacked NL East.
Where will the Phillies finish this upcoming season? You can see the PhillyVoice sports staff's picks for the year from earlier this week. I have them finishing second in the toughest division in baseball, grabbing a Wild Card spot and once again playing in the World Series, but losing to the Toronto Blue Jays, 30 years after they fell to Joe Carter up in Canada. Time is a flat circle, eh?
Taking a step back and looking for a perspective from outside Philly, here are some national media outlets' thoughts on the 2023 Phillies...
In a poll of 28 writers, ESPN made their predictions for this year. Of those 28, just one picked the Phillies to win the NL East (21 votes went to Atlanta and six went to New York). Given that, the Phils look to be Wild Card favorites in the Senior Circuit, as 22 writers picked them to still grab a Wild Card berth, more than any other team.
Journalist Tim Keown said the following regarding the Phils' postseason path:
Here's a tortured prediction: By the end of the regular season, the Phillies will be the third-best team in the NL East; by the end of the postseason, they'll be the second-best team in the National League, losing to the Padres in the NLCS. The logic, or illogic, is that the defending NL champs won't be at their best until the second half of the season, after Harper returns to the lineup. The injuries to Harper and first baseman Hoskins have lowered expectations for the season's first 162, but history shows a wild-card berth is not always a postseason hindrance. [ESPN]
The Phillies have set themselves up with expectations as high as the Comcast Center. Anything less than another pennant will be (and should be!) viewed as a disappointment.
Additionally, one writer (unnamed) picked the Phils to win the NL pennant and the World Series.
As for individual awards, Trea Turner received five votes for National League MVP, the third most of any player. Aaron Nola picked up a vote for NL Cy Young as well.
The crew at MLB.com has the Phillies falling short of the division crown, but making the postseason as a Wild Card team. The following blurb was given for the Phils:
After a World Series run, the Phillies made a huge splash by bringing in Trea Turner this winter. Philadelphia is returning much of its 2022 roster, but injuries have also set them back as the 2023 season gets going. Bryce Harper had Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected back until midseason, while Rhys Hoskins' 2023 season likely ended when he tore his left ACL in a Spring Training game. They still have the pieces to make the postseason, but a division title will be an uphill battle. [MLB]
I don't disagree!
Taking a peek at the models over at FiveThirtyEight, the Phils are tied with the seventh-best chances of winning the World Series at 4 percent. That percentage is third among NL East teams. Here's how they view the Braves, Mets and Phillies' respective postseason odds:
|World Series %||9%||8%||4%|
There's no sugar-coating it: it's going to be hard for the Phillies to win the NL East and it feels fairly unlikely even if I'm bullish on their shot once things get real come October.
Over at USA Today, seven writers shared their MLB predictions. All of them had Atlanta winning the division, but all of them still had the Phillies making the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Silver linings, right? Writer Bob Nightengale has the Phillies repeating as NL champs, but losing to the Cleveland Guardians in the World Series. Nightengale, along with journalist Jesse Yomtov, has Trea Turner winning the National League MVP Award.
The Athletic loves the Phils' new $300 million shortstop. 22.6 percent of their MLB staff picked Turner to win NL MVP, the second-most votes behind his former Nationals teammate, Padres slugger Juan Soto. 38.7 percent of those writers voted for Turner as the offseason's best acquisition, the top mark in the league.
To add a dash of pessimism to what's otherwise been a high-energy Phillies story, 9.7 percent of The Athletic's baseball writers picked the Phils as the most overrated team in the majors. That figure is tied for third among all teams.
Hey, you can't always end on a happy note, just as the 2022 Phillies illustrated, no matter how fun the ride was.
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