Entering June on a five-game losing streak, where the final three all came in extra innings, the team that spent over $225 million following the Winter Meetings and vowed to be all in was lacking any sort of identity while staring at a 21-29 record. Nine straight wins brought them above .500 for the first time since mid-April, all thanks to what exactly?
A managerial change has awoken the bats, arms, and gloves. With just over 100 games remaining on the schedule, the Phillies are playing their best baseball, making it more than possible to get back into the playoff hunt before it’s too late.
What numbers improved? And what numbers can spark a bit of confidence into a fanbase that is in desperate need of a postseason appearance? Today we look at nine numbers that offer encouraging signs for the Phillies as they move into the middle third of the 2022 season.
64- Runs Scored
Though defense and the bullpen have been the two main reasons why the Phillies, it’s not hard to figure out that scoring more runs improves a team’s chances of winning a baseball game. Over the nine-game win streak, Philadelphia scored 64 runs, boosting them from 11th in the bigs to 5th in the runs per game department. Now, only the Dodgers, Giants, and both New York squads are performing better on offense this season. What do those four teams have in common? They’re all occupying playoff spots at the moment.
2- Total Managers in MLB History
Before Rob Thomson, only two other managers in the history of Major League Baseball have begun their head coaching careers with eight consecutive wins since 1900. What is Thomson doing that Joe Girardi didn’t?
Thomson is yet to truly outmanage an opponent yet, though it is nice that the bats and arms are going good early in his interim role. The Phillies may just be playing well enough to make Thomson the guy long-term.
3- Phillies Errors
The Phillies made just three errors during their win streak, with a goose egg in the final scoreboard column in seven of those nine games.
Remember when Alec Bohm couldn’t catch or throw and “hated it” in Philadelphia? He seems to be getting over that feud as he looks more and more comfortable every day at the hot corner. Bryson Stott’s skill with a glove is transitioning nicely to the big league level. The one guy the Phillies cannot hide currently is Nick Castellanos and his -11 defensive runs saved.
Getting Bryce Harper back as quickly as possible without risking any further damage to his throwing elbow might put the Phillies in a bind as they progress through the season, being that Harper is much serviceable with just a -1 DRS.
For now, the team still isn’t winning games because of defense, but they look like their past losing games because of it. This stretch has brought them up from a bottom-5 fielding team to just one-thousandth of a percent below league average.
37,423 Phillies Fans
The third-highest attendance number at Citizens Bank Park for the 2022 season. The two highest came against in the first two games of the Oakland Athletics series, which you may recall were the very first two games of the season.
The 37,423 mark is the largest for any night home game in 2022. If the Phillies want to get back into the playoff race soon, they’ll need the continued support from their fans on a daily basis. It’s funny how more winning brings more people to the ballpark.
Gassing up the best player of this generation is always impressive, even if Trout was in the midst of the longest hitless streak of his career. Though it is still slightly down, Wheeler’s average velocity is getting closer and closer to the 97.2 mean he posted in 2021.
Whatever shoulder thing he was battling in the spring is now a thing of the past because he has arguably been MLB’s best starting arm since late April. Over his last seven starts, just one guy has a better ERA (Wheeler at 1.42) and more strikeouts (64) than him. He has not lost in any of those eight starts, and has struck out seven or more in each outing. Look out for another Cy Young-caliber season for Wheels, people.
4.5 Games Back
Time for some less-inviting numbers for all the devil’s advocates out there. Despite their hot streak, the Phillies gained just four and a half games on the first-place Mets in the race for the NL East. The Mets are the first NL team to hit the 40-win mark, so it may be a while before we still see any major shakeup in the division standings.
A Phillies sweep against the Brewers helped inch closer to holding a Wild Card spot, but right now both the Braves and Giants sit 3.5 games up on the Phillies in that race. Plenty of baseball to be played, however. A lot can happen in 100 games.
11 Straight Braves Wins
Of course, as soon as the Phillies get hot, one of the teams they are chasing is also hot. The Atlanta Braves have won 11 straight and are undefeated in the month of June.
Ronald Acuña Jr. looks like his ACL was never even touched, and he’s slashing .311/.414/.529 in his first 32 games of 2022. One silver lining for Phillies fans is that Atlanta’s streak has come against teams with a combined .415 win percentage, while the Phils have beaten teams with a combined .510.
Will Bryce Harper win another MVP? His numbers for the month of June are certainly giving off vibes that he’ll be in the running again. During the streak, Harper had a ridiculous 1.289 OPS, and he’s now leading the National League for the season in that category at .999.
It’s safe to say the Phillies have gotten the most out of him during his prime to this point as he looks to become the first back-to-back NL MVP recipient since Albert Pujols did so in 2008 and 2009. Here’s another absurd tidbit for any doubters: just nine human beings have ever won three MVPs in a single MLB career. Remember, people, baseball has been around a very long time.
4 Big League Homeruns
Bryson Stott is finally adjusting to big-league pitching. The young infielder swatted his first four career homers during the win streak, none were bigger than his magical three-run walk-off shot against the Angels.
His .333/.400/.694 slashline to start the month is making it hard on Thomson to sit him as Jean Segura takes a couple more months on the IL with a surgically repaired finger, and his overall numbers are starting to creep up closer to respectable rather than abysmal for a rookie.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola