Maple Street Press Phillies Annual 2011

With pitchers and catchers due in Clearwater in a week, 2011 season previews will start sprouting up like spring flowers. Not one of them, however, will rival the output of the Maple Street Press Phillies Annual 2011. As you can see on the image to the right, this year’s edition will feature content from some of your favorite Phillies writers, including:

What’s included in the 128 pages of advertisement-free Phillies coverage? Just about everything under the sun:

  • Pitch-level scouting reports revealing the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of every key player
  • In-depth looks at all the Phillies’ NL East rivals for 2011
  • Ryan Howard cut down on his strikeouts, but where’s the power?
  • Roy Halladay’s no-hitters, and the best pitching performances of the year
  • Hollywood once again: How Cole Hamels got his groove back
  • Interview: Doug Glanville on life in, and after, baseball
  • The top 30 Phillies prospects and a look at the Sally League champion Lakewood BlueClaws
  • Culture change: The Phillies dynasty, where it ranks with other great teams, and how it has affected the Philly mindset

In my article, I broke down in specific details Roy Halladay’s perfect game and NLDS no-hitter. I had a blast researching and writing the article, and I hope it comes through when you read it. I’m thrilled to have my name alongside an All-Star cast of writers.

If you’re interested, follow this link directly to the Maple Street Press website where you can place an online order for $12.99. They will be shipped beginning on February 17. If you would rather pick it up in person, the Annual will hit newsstands on March 1.

That Mighty Fine Starting Rotation

Yesterday was quite an important day in the United States. Many got together with friends and family, cooked food, downed a bunch of beers, and enjoyed each other’s company on a most joyous occasion. Not the Super Bowl — it was Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday!

Kidding aside, if you were busy yesterday with that game of hand-egg, you missed ESPN’s incredibly poor decision in handing me the reins to the SweetSpot blog for an entire day. In Rob Neyer’s stead, they called upon us bloggers to fill in while they search for a new queen- or kingpin. In my first article, I looked at how historically great the 2011 Phillies starting rotation could be. Using WAR, I concluded that only two starting rotations included four members compling at least 4 WAR apiece: the 1991 and ’97 Braves. With a little bit of luck and good health, the Phillies could be the third to accomplish the feat since 1960.

I spoke with Dan Szymborski, of ZiPS projection fame, about these awesome front-fours. He wrote about his projections for the current batch of Phillies back in December — he has them slated to post 19.8 WAR. Szymborski notes that that would be the 13th-best among front-fours in the past 41 years and the third-best since 1993 according to his calculations. It would also be more than five WAR better than the Phillies’ next-best rotation, found in ’83. That rotation featured future Hall-of-Famer and four-time Cy Young award winner Steve Carlton, the ’83 Cy Young winner in John Denny, Charles Hudson, and Marty Bystrom.

The 1993 rotation, which included Curt Schilling, Danny Jackson, Tommy Greene, Terry Mulholland, and Ben Rivera (the quintet remarkably made 152 of 162 starts), came in fourth at 12.8 WAR according to Szymborski. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the current amalgamation of starters vastly exceeds the ’93 bunch, but the Phillies would love to mimic that exceptionally clean bill of health such that their front four are able to accrue 200+ innings individually. And looking backwards, the Phillies have one-third of baseball’s top-12 pitchers in 2010.

PECOTA is here, by the way. Let me just say that I am very excited about the projections for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. Joe Blanton, too.

It’s going to be a fun year. One week left until pitchers and catchers report!