Phillie pitching has had two spectacular years in the past ten seasons, but 2012 was not one of them.
The table below shows the total WAR for Phillie pitchers over the last ten years, as well as the team’s rank relative to the rest of the NL, as calculated by Baseball-Reference:
So things got worse in 2012. After two years of topping the NL in WAR for pitchers, the Phils dropped to ninth in 2012. After finishing ninth in the NL in combined WAR for pitchers, the Phillies have now been in the bottom half of the league in six of the last ten seasons. In one of the other four, 2009, they finished eighth, which just barely put them in the top half.
They had a long way to fall after being first in the category in 2011. Nobody else was close. Atlanta finished second at 16.4, less than half of the 35.2 posted by the Phils. The Phillie pitchers aren’t putting up a Baseball-Reference calculated WAR of 35.2 again in your lifetime, maybe not in anybody’s lifetime. More on that later.
The Phillies went to the World Series in 2008 and again in 2009 and they did it despite middle-of-the pack WARs from their pitchers. They had dominant pitching in 2010 and again in 2011, but wound up disappointing in the post-season.
The low point of the ten-year stretch was 2007, when the Phillie pitchers combined for a WAR of 3.3. The Phillies had 16 pitchers that season who posted a negative WAR. Adam Eaton was the lowlight, making 30 starts in which he threw to a 6.29 ERA and put up a career-worst WAR of -1.8.
Hamels (3.8) and Kendrick (2.1) were the only pitchers for the team to post a WAR of two or better in 2007. Hamels (4.0), Moyer (2.5) and Lidge (2.3) had good years in 2008 and things got better. Happ (4.0) and Blanton (2.4) were good in 2009. Halladay’s 8.3 WAR led the Phils to the top spot in the NL in ’10 — he was backed by Hamels (5.3) and Oswalt (3.2 in just 12 starts).
In 2011, the combined WAR for Phillie pitchers topped out at 35.2. It’s not going back there, not next year, and, again, probably not ever. Fantastic seasons for Halladay (8.5), Lee (8.3) and Hamels (6.2) topped the group, but the Phillies also got contributions from Worley (3.2), Madson (2.0) and Oswalt (2.0).
It fell off a cliff in 2012 as the Phils dropped back to ninth in the league. Halladay, Lee and Hamels, whose combined 2011 WAR was 23, combined for a WAR of 9.1 (Lee 4.2, Hamels 4.2 and Halladay 0.7). After having just three negative WAR pitchers in 2011, the Phils had 11 in 2012.
Finally, the rank of the combined WAR (9) for all their pitchers was about the same in 2012 for the Phillies as it was in 2008 (9) and 2009 (8). The Phils went to the World Series in each of those seasons. Big difference between those teams and the 2012 Phils is that the offense was not great in 2012 and much better in ’08 and ’09. The Phils were eighth in the NL in runs scored in 2012. They tied for second in ’08 and led the league in runs scored in 2009.