Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who Said The Braves Are Better Than The Phillies?


Last year, the Phillies finished with 97 wins and just missed making their third straight World Series.

In the offseason, Ruben Amaro, Jr. compiled arguably the best pitching staff on paper in the history of baseball. Not to mention, the squad was returning with a great lineup like it always has.

But for some reason, a lot of the experts from around the nation didn’t pick the Phils to win the World Series. Others didn’t pick them to win the National League. In fact, believe it or not, some picked them to miss the playoffs!

Here is a list of a few of those disbelievers. Jon Heyman and Mel Antonen of picked Atlanta to win the East and the Phils to miss October baseball. Mike Vacarro and Brian Costello of “The New York Post” predicted the Braves would win the division and the Mets would finish second.

How outrageous is that?!

Sure, the team did lose a solid hitter in Jayson Werth, and Chase Utley and Brad Lidge had serious injuries. But this ball club is not one dimensional. They don’t rely on one player or one facet of the game.

Not to sound like a homer early on in this long baseball season, but those nay sayers were a little off. In fact, they were totally incorrect.

Hitting wise, the Phils sport the best batting average in major league baseball at .344. The Mets are 14th hitting .258 and Atlanta 21st at .236. The Phillies have the best On Base Percentage in the sport at .380. The Mets are 11th and the Braves 26th. Lastly, the Phils have the best slugging percentage in the National League at .484, significantly better than New York or Atlanta.

Out of the eight regular starting position players, seven are hitting over .300. Wilson Valdez hasn’t missed a beat at second base filling in for Chase Utley and Ben Francisco makes it seem like Werth never left.

By the way, Werth is hitting a putrid .226 in Washington with only one home run and one RBI. Francisco is batting .306 with two homers and seven RBIs.

Pitching wise, out of the nine games only three of them have been bad outings from the starting hurlers. Cole Hamels, who rebounded nicely today, was roughed up in his first appearance of the year. Cliff Lee struggled Friday night and Joe Blanton had some problems on Wednesday. However, that’s going to happen. The way this lineup is hitting though, no lead is safe against this team.

Then, there’s Jose Contreras. The majority of people wanted Ryan Madson to fill in for Lidge in the closer’s role until his return. Well, Contreras has been solid in his three showings so far. He’s two for two in save opportunities and hasn’t allowed an earned run.

If that’s not enough to believe in this club, just look at the standings. The Phils are 7-2, while New York is 4-5 and Atlanta 4-6. Both teams dropped two out of three to the Phillies after winning the first game of the series. Both had a chance to bury the Phils and they couldn’t. That speaks volumes.

Why did a lot of people pick Atlanta to win the NL East? They felt the Phillies were too injured or old. They felt the bullpen would be a major concern. They felt the Braves sported just an overall better squad.

Well, it’s not going to take 162 games to prove they were wrong. It only took nine.

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