With 17 games to go, the Phillies are 7½ games out in the NL East.
In 2007, the Phils were seven games back in the NL East with 17 to play, the year they famously ran down the Mets and won the division the final day of the season.
But that’s where the similarities end. This year has looked and felt different in just about every way.
The 2007 Phils had a dynamic offense that exemplified the current team’s offensive philosophy of seeing a ton of pitches. They just didn’t mention it every other day. Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell, even Ryan Howard at that point — all guys who would work deep counts and could end them in a powerful way.
Yet for Charlie Manuel, it was Hittin’ Season … not Takin’ Pitches Season.
That ’07 team was also great defensively. Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, Utley in his prime at second base. The range and strong throwing arms from Aaron Rowand, Shane Victorino and Werth, the steadiness behind the plate of Carlos Ruiz.
They also ran the bases extremely well. Utley (87.5 percent) and Werth (85.2) rank second and fifth, all-time, in stolen base success rate. Rollins and Victorino possessed game-changing speed atop the lineup. That team went 138 for 157 stealing bases — 88 percent.
The ’07 team would have loved to have had Aaron Nola. Jake Arrieta would have fit in that rotation as well. Is there anyone else on this 2018 team who’d even sniff playing time? Keep in mind that Burrell in 2007 was an even more productive offensive player than Rhys Hoskins has been this season.
More of an ’06 feel
The last two months of 2018 have felt more like 2006 than 2007 for the Phillies. In ’06, a young Phillies team on the precipice of contention acquired a bunch of vets after the trade deadline: Jeff Conine, Randall Simon, Jose Hernandez. Jamie Moyer, of course.
Just like this team with Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Bour, Jose Bautista. (Wilson Ramos is a better player than all of the above so he doesn’t count.)
That ‘06 team, though, did a lot of winning down the stretch and you knew the future was bright because it was a group of multidimensional, athletic players who also had the hit tool.
Still so many questions
As crazy as this sounds, the 2018 Phillies will enter the offseason with as many questions as the 2017 Phillies did.
This offense has averaged 4.23 runs per game. Last season, when the Phillies lost 96 games? They averaged 4.26 runs per game.
Despite adding Carlos Santana, having a full season of Hoskins and replacing Freddy Galvis with a young shortstop they felt great about, the Phils’ offense did not improve.
The Phillies have no proof that they can contend with Cesar Hernandez at second base, Odubel Herrera in center, and Jorge Alfaro behind the plate. You’d think an upgrade of about a dozen wins would result in more answers, but Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail still have a ton of work to do.