After 52 games, the Phillies are 27-25 and in last place in the NL East. Their 2011 campaign, which ended with 102 wins and the best record in baseball, seems like it was a long time ago.
Here’s what the Phillies did through and after game 52 in 2011 and through 52 games in 2012:
The biggest news for me there is that the 2012 Phillies have outscored the 2011 Phillies through the first 52 games of the season. In 2011, the Phillies were fourth in the NL in runs scored in April and 12th in May. In 2012, they were 12th in April and 4th in May.
Overall, though, they scored more runs in their first 52 games of 2012 than they did in 2011, plating 221 runs so far in 2012 after having scored 215 in the first 52 games of 2011.
The 2012 Phils fared well with the bats in May, but it’s easier to forget how badly they struggled in the same month in 2011. Rollins hit .242 and on-based .306 in 134 plate appearances. Howard hit 208/317/434 over 123. Polanco on-based .289 and slugged .294 at third. Mayberry and Francisco were both terrible — Mayberry got 80 plate appearances and put up a 194/275/319 line while Francisco hit 167/315/300 in his 74.
Important to remember is that the offense got way better after 52 games for the Phils in 2011. In games 53-162, they plated 4.53 runs per game, more than they had through the first 52 games of the year and more than the ’12 Phils have through the first 52 games of the year.
The Phillies ended 2011 having allowed the fewest runs in the National League by an enormous margin. They allowed 529 and the Giants were second having allowed 578. They 578 runs that the Giants allowed is about 3.57 per game — a lot worse than the Phillies allowed in either the first 52 games of 2011 or games 53-162.
The 2012 Phillies are on pace to allow 657 runs.
Early in 2011, the Phillies got outstanding performances from both their starters and relievers. In the first 52 games of 2012, the starters for the Phillies have been good, probably the second or third best rotation in the NL behind the Nats and maybe the Dodgers, but their bullpen has been atrocious.
Here’s how the numbers compare for 2011 and 2012 for games 1-52:
|SP IP||SP ERA||SP Ratio||RP IP||RP ERA||RP Ratio|
The starting and relief pitching for the Phillies in 2012 were both worse than they were in the first 52 games of 2011. The starters were worse and the pen has been a whole lot worse.
One thing we need to understand about the 2012 Phillies is that they have, to this point a least, a terrible bullpen.
Also, looking at the 2011 Phillies, after game 52, the pen got worse but the starters, which were already better than the 2012 starters through 52, got a whole lot better.
In games 53-162, the starters for the Phils combined to throw to a 2.71 ERA with a 1.08 ratio. The relievers threw to a 3.85 ERA with a 1.34 ratio. The starters threw a whole lot more innings (about 72.8% of the innings games 53-162) so the overall numbers come out great for the Phils when you combine starters and relievers after game 52. In games 53-162, the Phillies overall threw to a 3.02 ERA. For the season in 2011, the Phils led the NL in ERA and the Giants were second at 3.20. The 2011 Phillies threw to the same 3.02 ERA in games 1-52, but without the huge gap in the performance between the starters and the relievers.
So far in 2012, the Phillies have thrown to a 3.79 ERA, which is seventh-best in the NL.
Finally, the fact that the bullpen is terrible in 2012 surely hasn’t been lost on the Phillies and Charlie Manuel. In 2011, Phillies relievers threw the fewest innings in the NL with 412 1/3. Through the first 52 games of 2012, they have thrown 126 innings, which is again the fewest in the NL and puts them on pace to throw about 392 2/3 for the season. I have written about how few innings the bullpen throws for recent Phillies teams often over the last couple of years, including this post and this one. So far in 2012, the number of bullpen innings continues to drop.
And that’s a surprise to me, given who’s starting for the Phils in 2012. Here’s a look at who started the first 52 games for the Phillies in 2011 compared to who started the first 52 in 2012:
|Pitcher||Starts games 1-52 in 2011||Starts games 1-52 in 2012|
In the first 52 games of 2011, 41 of the starts (78.8%) were made Halladay, Hamels, Lee or Oswalt. In 2012, just 29 of the first 52 starts (about 55.8%) were made by that group of four, yet the 2012 starters went deeper into games and the bullpen pitched less (although much, much worse).
Looking closer at the numbers, most of the guys in the rotation this year have simply pitched deeper into games than they did in 2011. Oswalt also averaged just 5.63 innings per start in his first eight starts of 2011. Halladay’s innings per starts over the first 52 games are down in 2012, thanks in large part to a two-inning outing his last time out, but just about everyone else is up. Of the six guys who have made starts for the Phillies in 2012, all six have averaged at least six innings per start and everyone other than Halladay who started in both 2011 and 2012 have gone deeper into games this season.
When you compare the 2011 Phillies to what the 2012 Phillies have done to this point, the bottom line is that the 2011 Phillies created an enormous advantage relative to the rest of the league by preventing runs. The 2012 Phillies don’t have that advantage and it’s not close. The 2011 Phils threw to the best ERA in the league by a wide margin and led the league in fewest runs allowed by a wide margin. The 2012 Phils are seventh in ERA and eighth in runs allowed. The 2011 Phils also saw their offense take off after game 52, a step forward it’s not clear how the 2012 Phillies are going to make.