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August 05, 2018

Why the Phillies may actually be better than we think

By the numbers the Phillies — even though they boast a narrow lead in the NL East and are currently in the playoff bracket — are not exactly a dominating team.

Their run differential barely moves the needle for a club double-digit wins over .500 and their putrid team batting average of .238 is the fourth worst of all 30 Major League Baseball teams. Many, understandably, do not have high hopes for the Phillies this season after they failed to land a premier bat (though Astrubal Cabrera should help).

But behind the obvious are some very interesting trends and achievements that perhaps make the second youngest team in baseball more likely to make the playoffs, and perhaps make a run into October than many might think.

In the clutch

The Phillies have the second best win percentage in one-run games in baseball this year at 20-10. That's a testament to the solid back end of the bullpen and to some extremely timely hitting.

 Team 1-run game record
 Red Sox21-9
Mariners 27-14

The Phils also, if one looks further into things than their relatively mundane 72.7 save percentage (around the MLB average), have actually done a way better than average job protecting late leads. In games they've led in after seven innings they are 52-5. When leading after eight innings they are 56-2.

However, even after Maikel Franco's recent heroics against the Marlins, Philly is still 6-7 in walk-off decisions — explaining their lackluster 6-8 record when tied after eight frames.

Philadelphia is also 7-4 in extra inning games, the sixth best mark in MLB.

Playing to the competition

The Phils, as far as where their wins are coming from, thus far (their Marlins series win not withstanding) have played either up or down to their competition. This is easily researchable, as two of their last three series losses have been to teams below .500 in the Reds and Marlins (back in Miami in mid July). Overall, Philadelphia has the fourth best winning percentage in baseball against winning teams.

 Team Record vs winning teams
Red Sox 30-20
Yankees 32-22
Astros 32-24
Phillies 41-32

By comparison, the team that most closely trails the Phillies in the NL East, the Braves, are 30-30 against winning teams. 

Contrary to what most winning teams do, though, Philly hasn't exactly feasted against lowly teams on the totem pole. When playing clubs under the .500 mark the Phillies are just 22-16, which is the 11th worst record in those games.

Home sweet home

The Phils are the third best team in baseball at home, the best in the entire National League, and have won 11 of their last 13 games at Citizens Bank Park. 

The other side of the coin is fairly obvious, though, as the club is the only current division leader with a losing record away from home at 25-30. 

Team  Record at home
 Red Sox41-15
Phillies 38-18 

Interestingly, the Phillies are the fourth best team in interleague play at 10-5, behind the Red Sox, Pirates and Rockies.

Monday they'll attempt to improve their road play as they head to Arizona for three games against the Diamondbacks — a team with a winning record. Two days off, one on Thursday and one Monday after a weekend series in San Diego will help Philly prepare for a pair of games against the best team in the bigs — the Red Sox — traveling to CBP on August 14 and 15.

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