April 07, 2023
The Phillies will finally make their return home to Citizens Bank Park, and although there's still a National League title to celebrate and defend, the circumstances going in could've been far better.
Between injuries, inconsistent bats, and unsteady pitching, the Phillies went 1-5 on the road to begin the year, which – for a club with World Series ambitions – is far from the kind of start both the players and the fans wanted to see.
But it's still just six games into a 162-game schedule, with the Phils having a chance to bounce right back against the Reds in front of what will no doubt be an electric home crowd of 45,000.
Time to panic?
Our own Evan Macy has 10 reasons that say no.
Here's what other writers are saying:
Maybe it's easy to forget – World Series, MLS Cup, and Super Bowl runs all in succession will blur your memory a bit after all – but many of the 2023 Phillies have survived much, much worse not even eight months ago.
Remember the club looking dead in the water before Joe Girardi was fired? How their playoff hopes should've been wiped on the spot the second Bryce Harper's thumb was broken by a pitch inside? Or how they were holding the Wild Card spot near the end, but looked like they were doing everything to lose it with that late-season sweep from the Cubs?
Yeah, they've been through worse.
Then again, heightened expectations do bring heightened scrutiny.
Wrote The Inquirer's Scott Lauber, with color from Kyle Schwarber:
But after surviving so much adversity one year, is there an even greater inclination to shrug off real problems early in the next?
Let’s turn again to Schwarber, who won 92 games and a division title with the Cubs in 2017 after capturing a hex-breaking World Series crown in 2016.
“I think the biggest thing is there’s experiences, right?” he said. “We were able to go through that and we came out on the other side. Do we want to have that [21-29] start again? I think if you ask everyone in this room they’d say, ‘Absolutely not.’
“But even if we did have a start like that, we know we’re still capable. You don’t ever want to get too low on yourself because there’s always a way that you can get yourself back into it.” [The Inquirer, $]
In the grand scheme of things, will a bad six games even matter?
Running back through the data in search of a correlation between the Phillies' first six games and their final record since 1962, when MLB instituted the 162-game season, The Good Phight's Ben Silver discovered...not really (click here to see the graphs):
Since Rhys Hoskins went down with a torn ACL on Mar. 23, the path has been downhill for Philadelphia baseball. Ranger Suárez, who was supposed to start the season with the team, now looks to return sometime mid-spring after a bout with forearm soreness. Darick Hall, who was supposed to be the Phillies’ everyday first baseman, is out for an unknown amount of time with a thumb injury. The Phillies revamped bullpen — which MLB ranked seventh in baseball pre-season — is now last in ERA at 8.44, and their FIP indicates no regression to the mean. Chiefly, the Phillies are 1-5 after their first six games in a season which was supposed to see them repeat their 2022 playoff success.
It has left everyone wondering: do they even have the talent/ability to make the postseason?
History says yes.
Well more specifically, history says these first six games are nearly meaningless. [The Good Phight]
The Phillies will be presented with their NL championship rings on Sunday, and the organization has a list of 63 players due to receive one.
Over the winter, owner John Middleton and team president Dave Dombrowski came to the decision that any player who accrued major-league service time in 2022 should get one, because, to sum up Middleton, it took everyone to get there.
“It’s putting your money where your mouth is,” Middleton told the Athletic's Matt Gelb. “We talk about being a team. We talk about the team being a lot more than the 26 current players on the active roster. We talk about it being a 40-man roster. We talk about additions to the 40-man and 26-man roster during the course of the season. There are so many places you can look back.”
And that includes Scott Kingery, who was once projected to be a key piece of the Phillies' core but has since been lost in limbo.
In a way, he did help the Phillies along the way on that long, long road back to October.
He just wasn't there to experience it.
Some of Kingery's thoughts on receiving a ring, as chronicled by Gelb:
It’s a little complicated. I’ll probably feel it in multiple ways. I mean, obviously, that’s something when I was little that you grow up and you’re like, “OK, I’m a baseball player. I want to get a ring.” Seeing it and having your name on it, it’s going to be an unbelievable feeling. But, at the same time, I know I was only up there for three days. I got in for a half-inning on defense (on June 8).
I know I didn’t really contribute at all. But I kind of look at it as something that happened over the course of the past four or five years. They might look at it as that specific year. But, to me, it’s a whole package of what happened over the last four or five years for me. The teams that I was on before that led up to that point.
It’s going to be awesome seeing that ring with my name on it. A little complicated, but very cool at the same time. That’s something I’ll have forever. No one can ever take that away from me. [The Athletic, $]
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