More Sports:

May 23, 2024

Was Phillies' sweep over World Series champs a statement?

Criticism that the Phillies aren't beating teams with winnings records is overblown.

Phillies MLB
Phillies-Rangers-series-win_052324_USAT Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports

The Phillies celebrate a win against the Rangers, in yet another series victory.

Besides the Braves — way back in March (who won the first two games of the 2024 season) — the Phillies have yet to face a team with a winning record in 2024.

The Phillies have dominated since and are the best team in baseball. What are good teams supposed to do? Beat bad teams. Which is exactly what the Phillies have done to the tune of an all-time franchise best start through 51 games, 37-14. 

There has been widespread criticism that, because this team hasn't played anyone good yet, the wins are somehow less impressive. The Phillies hoped to have an opportunity to beat a contender this week with the reigning World Series champion Rangers in town, but Texas entered play Tuesday at even .500 and lost all three games by 13 combined runs, just like nearly every other Phillies opponent in 2024.

Dating back to 2023 there was a little juice to this matchup. The Phillies opened last season in Arlington, and got their butts handed to them in an ugly sweep. They were robbed of an opportunity to seek revenge in the World Series after Philadelphia blew a 3-2 series lead to the Diamondbacks, who took the pennant and lost in the Fall Classic to the Rangers.

Beating the defending champs should have been a signature series victory but it felt like business as usual in South Philly Thursday as Zack Wheeler improved to 6-3 (tight roping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh) thanks in large part to a two-run triple from reserve outfielder Cristian Pache. But perhaps that's a sign of how good things have gone for the Phils. Just another sweep.

Credit is due, however. The players on the field still have to put the ball in play, and throw pitches in the strike zone. They still need to be mentally focused and engaged, motivated and energized. It's a lonely and individual sport most of the time. How many National League teams have ever won 36 of their first 50 games? That would be 25 — in 148 seasons of NL baseball. The Phillies are the 26th to ever do it. They also went 17-3 to start the month of May for the first time in team history.

These early season accomplishments are impressive, regardless of them having the weakest schedule in all of baseball.

The NL as a whole is pretty weak this season. Only five of 15 teams in the league are above .500 right now, in contrast to nine teams that finished there in 2023. Last season National League teams averaged 4.68 runs per game. In 2024 it's 4.38. Offense is down across the board (though it is only May and bats heat up in the summer).

Philly has beat up on its opponents — winning by a MLB best 1.8 runs per contest (the Yankees and Dodgers have won by 1.5 runs per game). Their starting pitchers have the best ERA in the majors while their offense has scored the most runs. What more could one ask for?

They also haven't dodged any aces:

Oh, and they've done much of it without Trea Turner — arguably their best offensive player at the time of his injury — a player who has missed three weeks now with a hamstring injury.

The breezy slate will continue with the Rockies, Giants and Cardinals all ahead on the schedule. San Francisco and St. Louis are each in the playoff hunt in their respective divisions, but both are a few games below .500. The Brewers, Red Sox, Orioles and Padres are on the ledger for mid-June, which will likely qualify as the first real tough stretch for this Phillies squad — with a quick visit to London in the middle to face the Mets.

Until then, all the Phillies can do is try and pile on the wins. And perhaps set even more records in the process.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports