MLB Playoffs Preview: The Best Lineups Going Into October

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Everyone knows the playoffs are about pitching, especially pitching depth. However, of course some lineups are easier to pitch to than others. The teams that can support their pitchers are the ones that are going to win in the postseason. These are the teams with the lineups that are going to give pitchers the most trouble in October.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Playoff Predictions: Phillies Championship Advantage, No. 3: Offense

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Part 3 of 7

Although the Phillies have a league-wide reputation as an offensive powerhouse, their numbers were down across the board this season. Appearances can be deceiving. 

A peek at the rankings suggests that the Phillies might take a back seat to other playoff teams in terms of offensive output.  

The Cincinnati Reds lead the National League in runs, batting average (.270), home runs (181), and slugging percentage (.434.)

Although in-season acquisitions have bolstered their run production, both the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are built around pitching. Similarly, the Atlanta Braves rely more on pitching than offense to win games. 

Although the presence of the designated hitter makes comparisons between the two leagues difficult, all four American League clubs have posted impressive offensive statistics this season. The AL contenders have varying formulas, but each of them ranks in the top five in runs scored. 

When it comes to the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies, though, the stat sheets don’t tell the true story. Sometimes there is truth in the old adage “figures lie and liars figure” and this is a prime example.  

For the past several seasons, the Phillies reigned at the top of league rankings with their high octane offense. 

The previous two seasons placed them first in home runs. Last year, they captured that distinction by a large margin, clubbing 34 more than the next National League  team. 

As further validation that the Phillies have been built for the long ball, they ranked one or two in slugging percentage over the past four campaigns. 

And, in the true measure of offensive prowess, the Phils ranked first or second in runs scored each of the previous five seasons. 

In 2010, Philadelphia’s home run production currently sits 61 dingers behind that of a year ago. It is safe to say, regardless of any further exploits by Ben Francisco, John Mayberry, or Mike Sweeney in the regular season’s last three games, the final tally will be a very large drop-off. 

After a strong stretch run, they have climbed the rankings a bit in runs scored, but will likely finish third. 

Statistics and rankings aside, though, this is probably the team’s most dangerous lineup in the current era of prosperity. 

The recorded numbers mask the lineup’s true offensive potential as well as the level of anxiety it stirs amongst opposing hurlers. 

Just ask Jonathan Broxton.

The reason that the numbers seem not to align, of course, is simple—Phillies regulars logged an inordinate amount of time in the training room this year. 

The injury impact on the statistics has been two-fold. The most obvious has been the lost production associated with the roughly 200 games that regulars have not stepped on the playing field due to physical ailments.   

And, then, when players returned to action, their productivity suffered from inactivity and an often compromised physical state. This was most notable with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins as they struggled to regain their swings. 

And, I would be remiss not to mention that Howard’s stint on the DL and subsequent recovery non-fortuitously coincided with the stretch of season that has historically been his own personal fireworks display. 

The way this season has gone, it would be foolish to rule out anymore physical setbacks. That notwithstanding, though, it is the Phillies’ good fortune— and opponents’ ill fortune—that the lineup is set to be intact for the postseason.  

And, as good as the Reds hit all year, this Phillies lineup as it was conceived in the offseason is the gold standard. 

It possesses the rare combination of game changing speed and power capable of alternately intimidating opposing hurlers while instilling confidence in its own. 

Count this Phillies potent offense as another key October advantage. It appears poised to do some postseason damage. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Top 12 Things That Work to The Phillies’ Advantage This Postseason

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies are in a good place. It’s a place most young kids, high school standouts, and college athletes covet.

The sporting pinnacle.

You’re on a team—your own team—that you helped build with your own hands and you are enjoying success year after year.

This is what Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and the rest of the gang are experiencing now.

They’ve clinched four straight National East crowns, and they find themselves standing alone at the top of the mountain as the hottest team in the MLB.

They’ve even held the league’s best record for a good part of the final stretch this year.

It’s hard to bet against the Phillies right now, with so much going well for them.

Among many different things that work in their favor, I was able to consolidate them into 12 different things, beginning with…

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Notable First Playoff Starts of Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers Over The Years

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

With his 97-pitch complete game shut out of the Washington Nationals, Phillies starter Roy Halladay sent the Phillies back to the postseason for the fourth straight year.

Soon after, pitching coach Rich Dubee announced that Halladay would be the Phillies Game 1 starter in the NLDS, it will mark the first time in Halladay’s career that he pitches in the postseason.

Halladay has been one of the most elite pitchers in baseball over the past decade. Despite being near the top the league every year statistically, his Toronto Blue Jays were never able to overcome the Yankees or Red Sox and later the Rays.

This brings up the point: Who are some other Phillies starters whom, regardless if they had been with the team a long or short while, made their playoff debuts in red pinstripes.

Here are a couple notable starting pitchers who made their first career postseason starts with the Phillies.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Team Chemistry Sets Pace as Playoffs Draw Near

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Team chemistry is a sometimes overlooked factor in sports but it’s nothing new in Philadelphia. The 1980 Cardiac Kids with an infield led by Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, and Pete Rose, and an outfield showcasing Garry Maddox, Bake McBride, and Greg Luzinski brought the Phillies their first world championship. The team chemistry in 1980 seemed almost subdued until the final out of the World Series as most of the players were older.

The 1992 Phillies that finished last in the National League East, were described by John Kruk as “24 morons and one Mormon.” The clean living Dale Murphy being the one Mormon. In 1993 the Phillies were in my opinion the original “blue collar” or “going to work” team. Mullet Row was led by Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra (a perfect fit in Philadelphia after coming over from the Mets in 1989) John Kruk, and Mickey Morandini.

I usually separate everyday players from pitchers, but in 1993 pitchers Terry Mulholland, Mitch Williams and Tyler Green seemed to fit right into the practical jokes and all-around good time that surrounded this team. Somehow this hard-partying team won 97 games and earned a trip to the World Series. When the dust settled on the ’93 season I could see most of these players regardless of their position on the field or status as a starter or backup all sitting around the bar together.

Cut to 2010, while this Phillies team displays a different type of chemistry I believe that it is the most special kind; the team unity that is displayed day in and day out is amazing.

Ryan Howard is the key to this fine-tuned machine. On Monday night after the Phillies clinched the NL East Howard once again showed his class and leadership when he halted the post-game celebration so that veterans Roy Halladay, Mike Sweeney, and Brian Schneider could pop the corks on the first bottles of celebratory champagne. A veteran himself, Howard has had the champagne shower in past years and knows the significance, letting the three who had never been to the playoffs before savor the special moment, unity.

On April 13th, 2009 the Phillies lost a legend in the booth when the longtime voice of the Phillies, Harry Kalas, passed away before the Phillies were hosted by the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies once again displayed the close knit unity that makes this group special when Shane Victorino hit a solo home run. He pointed to the broadcast booth that was missing the 39-year work horse Harry Kalas, whose picture and sport coat hung in the Phillies dugout the remainder of the season.

Before the game Howard organized a team smoke in honor of Harry the K, a longtime smoker and a few Parliament Lights were passed around the dugout. Although it may seem juvenile or politically incorrect to some, this is just another example of these men honoring those who came before them.

While attending Southwest Missouri State University Howard was a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. It is this type of fraternity brother attitude that sets the Phillies apart from other teams. A foxhole mentality, when the chips are down you trust the man on your left or right; this is what we are witnessing this season.

Howard is 30 years old with seven years of major league experience but he balances that with a youthful clubhouse presence. You don’t find that quality on other teams around the league.

This family-type bond is just the kind of chemistry that can carry a team like the Phillies as far as they want to go. And in the case of the Philadelphia Phillies they want to ride this wave all the way, together.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Ruiz: The True Unsung Hero in Philadelphia

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

One of the most underrated and overlooked players in the MLB is undoubtedly Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. Chooch, as the fans like to call him, is the kind of guy that everyone loves. He is cool, down to earth, and a great player.

Whether you can understand him or not, you got to love Ruiz’s walkout music. Chooch sports everything from “Turn My Swag On” by Soulja Boy to “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. On top of being an absolute boss with tip-top swag, Carlos has captured the hearts of the entire Philadelphia population.

Since joining the Phillies in 2006, Chooch has been nothing but an all-star in the hearts and minds of the Phillies faithful and he definitely does not get the recognition he deserves.

Well, Chooch, I’m here to spread the word about you!

Ruiz has the coveted ability to call an excellent game. So far this season, Carlos ranks fourth among catchers in putouts and has a .993 fielding percentage. He has caught for some of the best pitchers in baseball such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

This past May, when Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins, he had this to say about Chooch: “I can’t say enough about the job that Ruiz did tonight. It’s as much of a big deal for him as it is for me.”

Most of the pitchers that come through Philly really admire the work Ruiz does behind the plate, yet his publicity in the national and local media is very scarce. 

Although Chooch has one of the hottest gloves at his position, he is not only known for his catching ability. In fact, he is an extremely clutch hitter when it comes to big games and big-time moments.

Chooch has a lifetime postseason batting average of .303 with three homers, 13 RBIs, and 19 walks. In the two World Series that the Phillies were a part of, Ruiz posted a .353 batting average with two home runs, five RBIs, and nine walks.

Being a huge Phillies fan, it seems that Chooch is always coming up with a huge hit or a huge home run. 

Chooch is not a very vocal guy. When interviewed, Chooch is always humble and presents himself in a way that makes others shine and not himself. He is a very unselfish person and represents what Philadelphia sports are all about: hard work, passion, and results. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies Will Win The World Series: 5 Reasons Why

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies should be the favorite to not only represent the National League in the World Series, but they should be the favorite to win the World Series title.

The Phillies have the best three starting pitchers in baseball: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.

They also have home field advantage up until the World Series where they have a record of 54-30.

They have an offensive lineup that is coming together and can hit with the best in baseball.

They also have experience. They made it to the World Series in back-to-back years and have won the NL East four-straight seasons.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Are Once Again Heading to the Playoffs

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Living in New York City and listening to the countless New York Mets and Yankees talk on the radio and on TV, I probably don’t appreciate the Philadelphia Phillies as much as I should. This group or core of Philly players is a very, very special group.

The Phillies clinched the National League East division title with an 8-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Monday night. It’s their fourth division title in a row.

The Phillies have clearly established themselves as the class of the National League and have something really special going on. Yes, the Phillies have stars in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth, but these guys are also winners.

It’s very rare in sports to have players who are stars and also winners. The Yankees had them in the late ’90s, the Boston Red Sox had them in 2004 and in 2007, and the Phillies have them now. Even their role players are winners.

If the game is on the line and Carlos Ruiz is coming to the plate, I would bet a large sum of money that he comes through. Same can be said for Shane Victorino.

Now, the Phillies will go into the postseason with some questions. How is Jimmy Rollins‘ hamstring? Has Brad Lidge fully turned things around? Will J.C. Romero be able to get out a tough lefty late in the game like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, or Brian McCann?

All legitimate questions, but if you are a Phillies fan, you have to feel very good about your team heading into the playoffs. They have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and in the first round have opted for the eight-day schedule, which means that they will only have to use a three-man rotation in the first round.

Good luck to whoever is facing Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels in the NLDS.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Do They Have What It Takes to Do It Again?

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies are looking very good.  They just clinched the National League East for the fourth time in a row, and they are going to head into the postseason soon.  Earlier in the season, we probably wouldn’t have expected this, but here they are, looking great.

With October coming up and a playoff berth guaranteed for the Phillies, it brings up a big question:  Will this team do as good of a job in the postseason as they have done in the last few years?

The Phillies have won three consecutive division titles and two consecutive National League titles.  They have had a very good team in the past, so I am going to talk about this team versus the teams in the past three years.

I will arrange it into three categories:  additions and losses, advantages and disadvantages, and similarities and differences.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Is Matt Rizzotti a Star in the Making?

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

For the past year or so, you might’ve heard about Dominic Brown. He is considered to be the Phillies’ best minor league prospect and was sought after by the Blue Jays in the blockbuster Roy Halladay deal. The Phillies were reluctant to give him up, and so he stayed a Philly, or at least a Double-A Reading Philly. Another player the Phillies might want to consider holding on to is Matt Rizzotti.

The Floral Park, NY native started off his career at Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, NY where he disposed of opposing pitchers in historic fashion. He broke the school record for home runs in a single season during his senior year when he hit 16 bombs. He also hit for a .512 batting average that year while driving in 52 runs, earning him Queens Player of the Year honors and being named a Louisville High School All-American. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 46th round that year, but ultimately decided to attend Manhattan College after being hotly recruited by NCAA powerhouses North Carolina and Vanderbilt.

At Manhattan he tore up opposing pitching, getting progressively better every year being named MAAC Player of the Year in 2005, MAAC Preseason Player of the Year in 2006, and being ranked 47th on Baseball America’s 2007 Early Draft Preview. He was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft.

He quickly signed with the Phillies and started off his career with the “Phils” shortly after signing his contract, being assigned to Williamsport of the New York Penn League. Once there he hit .260 with 27 RBI in 63 games. The next year he was moved up a level to Rookie A ball and showed improvement, playing in 106 games while batting .278 with 10 jacks and 55 runs batted in. He was soon moved up to Lakewood A ball, during which he came back down to earth, hitting a respectable .268 and once again hitting double digits in HRs with 10.

2009 was a breakout year for Rizzotti as he was moved up to the A-plus level of the minors, this time playing in Clearwater for the Threshers. He had a fantastic year, hitting a tremendous .351 while bopping 13 home runs and driving in 58 runs. Things were really looking up for Matt after this season and 2010 proved to be a deciding year for him. With all the hype he surely wouldn’t disappoint.

If 2009 was a breakout year for Rizzotti, then I don’t know what you can call the year Matt Rizzotti is having. He is really opening eyes in the Phillies organization, starting off the year with Clearwater hitting .358; he was promoted to Double-A Reading after 31 games. Now in Reading, Rizzotti is having the best season of his entire minor league career. He is hitting .358 with a mind-boggling 11 home runs in just 166 at-bats. He also has 15 doubles on the season, earning a spot in the Eastern League All-Star game. 

In case you’re wondering about his defense, he’s committed only 18 errors in 1553 chances in his last four seasons combined. He also possesses a squeaky clean .988 fielding percentage during that period.

So tell me, what’s not to like about this ball player? At 6’5″, 236lbs. he is a mammoth of a human being and can absolutely rate. A big, strong late-round first baseman that can crush the ball. Hmm…Sounds like current Major League Phillies player Ryan Howard, and Howard may be what keeps Rizzotti from being the Phillies ML first baseman. So, maybe he can be a trade chip in a possible deal some day.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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