The first half wasn’t real pretty for the Phils, but it sure had a nice ending. The Phils swept the Cincinnati Reds in four dramatic games, getting a pair of 1-0 wins behind outstanding pitching, a walkoff homer in the opener and another in game two after scoring six runs in the ninth to send the game to extra-innings.
When the series were over, the Phils were headed into the break at 47-40 with hopes raised they were headed for another second-half surge.
By winning percentage, the Phillies have been better in the second half the last few years:
In each of the last three seasons the Phils have played to a better winning percentage after the All-Star break than they did before. This was most dramatic in 2007 when the Phils went 45-29 after the break and played to a .500 record before it, but they were also much better after the break in 2008 and a little better in 2009.
The offense shouldn’t be given too much of the credit for the second-half success in recent years. In two of the last three years they’ve scored fewer runs per game in the second half than they did in the first half:
And if you averaged out those three numbers, you get .9947. If the Phillies scored 99.47% of the runs per game in the second half that they did in the first, they would score 352 runs in their 75 remaining games. That would put them at 762 at the end of the regular season.
What they have done at least a little bit better in each of the last three seasons is prevent runs. This was most dramatic in 2009 when they allowed nearly a run less per game after the break than they had before it:
In 2008, they actually allowed 4.198 runs per game before the break and 4.197 runs per game after it. If you average it out over the past three years, the Phils have allowed about 110.46% of the runs per game in the first half of the season that they allowed in the second. If the Phils cut their rate of allowing runs in the second half they would allow about 3.77 runs per game or 283 over 75 games. That would put them at 645 over 162 games.
The Phils had a .540 winning percentage in the first half of the season. If they continue to play to that winning percentage for the rest of the season they’ll end the year they’ll finish up at 87-75. If they were to end the year having scored 762 runs and allowed 645, they would have a Pythagorean winning percentage of .576, which would have them winning 93 games.
Unless the Braves fall off in a way they’re not going to, 87 wins isn’t going to be enough for the Phillies to win the division. So let’s hope there’s some second half magic left.