Phillies: Good at Baseball

You’ve no doubt been inundated with articles telling you just how good the 2011 Phillies starting rotation is. The combination of the severe decline in offense across baseball (lowest since 1992) and the four (five?) aces led to some impressive pitching numbers. Prior to yesterday’s games, the Phillies’ rotation had the lowest FIP, xFIP, and SIERA in all of baseball, beating the second-best rotation by 0.41 (Giants), 0.48 (Braves), and 0.49 (Giants), respectively.

In previous years, there has never been a FIP as low as the Phillies’ 2.95, and rarely has a team had such a dominating lead. Dating back to 1990, only the 1996-98 Braves rotations had a larger lead over the second-best FIP.

Year #1 FIP DIFF
1996 Braves -0.48
1997 Braves -0.47
1998 Braves -0.42
2011 Phillies -0.41
1994 Braves -0.33
1995 Braves -0.29
1991 Mets -0.20
2000 Braves -0.19
2007 Padres -0.19
2005 Marlins -0.18
2001 Red Sox -0.13
2002 Diamondbacks -0.11
2006 Angels -0.11
1999 Astros -0.10
2003 Yankees -0.08
2004 Cubs -0.07
2009 Cardinals -0.07
1992 Braves -0.06
2008 Diamondbacks -0.05
2010 Cardinals -0.04
1993 Braves -0.02

Even more impressively, since 1990, the Phillies have the lowest FIP and FIP-, which is a FIP index similar to OPS+ (in this case, lower is better; 100 is the league average).

Team Year FIP- FIP 
Phillies 2011 75 2.95
Braves 1997 78 3.30
Braves 1996 78 3.41
Diamondbacks 2002 79 3.49
Braves 1998 79 3.38
Yankees 2003 81 3.56
Red Sox 2002 81 3.60
Braves 1995 81 3.45
Red Sox 1990 81 3.32

The Phillies’ indefatigable starting rotation has contributed greatly to the team’s greatest run differential through 142 games in franchise history.

Start W-L WP RS RA Diff Tot W-L Div Postseason
4/1/2011 94-48 .662 651 461 190 94-48 1 TBD
4/10/1976 87-55 .613 679 497 182 101-61 1 Division Champ
4/9/1977 89-53 .627 738 583 155 101-61 1 Division Champ
4/5/1993 87-55 .613 792 650 142 97-65 1 NL Pennant
4/14/1915 82-59 .582 539 426 113 90-62 1 NL Pennant
4/18/1950 86-53 .619 667 555 112 91-63 1 NL Pennant
4/7/1978 78-64 .549 622 519 103 90-72 1 Division Champ
3/31/2008 78-64 .549 685 587 98 92-70 1 WS Champ
4/5/2009 82-60 .577 715 620 95 93-69 1 NL Pennant

“The Phillies are good” articles are rote now, but it’s still fun to look through the numbers and see just how good they really are. Not only are the 2011 Phillies likely to finish as the greatest team in franchise history, but they may just become the greatest team in National League history, at least in the live ball era. The 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds may have something to say about that, but there is at least a debate.

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13 comments

  1. Buzzsaw

    September 12, 2011 09:35 AM

    FYI, if my FIPS math is right, the last 4 starts have had an aggregate 3.20 FIP.

    Making the leading scores for the DVD prize

    3.15 Rob
    3.15 Giving_Chase
    3.18 CB
    3.20 Hopper
    3.20 Rob

    not sure if that is a multiple entry

  2. curtwill

    September 12, 2011 10:20 AM

    I think that the Phillies are the NL Answer to the 1998 Yankees and I am not being silly when I say this. There is only one real weakness with them(Middle Relief, 6th/7th inning relief), other than that, they are solid all the way through and can beat teams in so many different ways.

  3. Buzzsaw

    September 12, 2011 10:35 AM

    I think the NL record for wins is the 1906 Cubs 116 regular + 2 WS games.

    We win 108 regular and 11 post-season and we can surpass even that…

  4. Jesse

    September 12, 2011 10:36 AM

    Giants mentioned twice in the lede… #corrections

  5. Bill Baer

    September 12, 2011 10:42 AM

    @ Jesse

    Yeah, it’s because I list FIP, xFIP, and SIERA runners-up.

    FIP = Giants
    xFIP = Braves
    SIERA = Giants

    I ended with “respectively” to show that the named teams corroborate with the order in which the stats were presented.

  6. Jesse

    September 12, 2011 10:54 AM

    @Bill,
    Ah, gotcha. I guess I was expecting to see units there or something, but since they were neatly arranged in ascending order it made it seem as if it were on one path…

  7. Rob

    September 12, 2011 10:55 AM

    Buzzsaw, I am one of the “Rob”s and I only posted once, so thinking it’s just 2 different people with the same name. I’m thinking Bill has access to the e-mail addresses that are submitted but not displayed, to determine who is who. Believe my submission was 3.20.

  8. Buzzsaw

    September 12, 2011 12:21 PM

    gotcha. Won’t matter anyway as the Astros are sure to rake this week putting me back in the money.

    and then peace will break out in the middle east…

  9. Rob

    September 12, 2011 12:40 PM

    I’m the other Rob, and it’s just a really weird coincidence that our entries were one after another and very similar.

    Actually, when I posted 3.15 then looked at the comments and saw 3.2 under my name, I was really confused for a minute.

  10. Buzzsaw

    September 12, 2011 12:53 PM

    On the greatness front, the Phil’s pitchers have a WAR of 27.3 thus far. I checked all the 25 other NL teams with 100+ wins in the last 50 years and none can match it.

    Closest were

    ’69 Amazins 24.0
    ’98 Astros 22.7
    ’99 Braves 22.3
    ’99 DBacks 22.2
    ’88 Mets 22.1

    Not even the top AL teams are better

    ’98 Yanks 21.0
    ’01 Mariners 15.1

  11. bptess

    September 12, 2011 04:36 PM

    Unless we win the WS, this team will be remembered just as the ’96-’98 Braves are – not much.

  12. Buzzsaw

    September 13, 2011 07:47 AM

    After Oswalts start the new FIPs number is 3.5982 and the DVD leaders are now

    3.4667 Leonard
    3.50 MFP
    3.55 HK
    3.56 Phil
    3.57 Buzzsaw

    Should Hamels/Halladay throw typical starts, the FIP number would drop back to ~ 3.3

    (i’m assuming that the stats are aggregated and one FIPs score computed, rather than calculating the FIPs score for each start and then averaging those.)

  13. Philistine

    September 13, 2011 08:52 AM

    Bill, The pitching’s great whether you slice it w/a SABR or a more “mainstream” implement.The thing that bugs me is that even though the Phil’s runs scored are down again this year to 4.6, that has them tied for second w/Cin & Col behind StL(4.7) & ahead of Ari(4.5) & Mil(4.4). I realize that’s a minimal difference, but the narrative is still Phils can’t score while Barney Brewer’s boys are the Wallbangers reincarnate(I’ll agree as to fielding) & the DBack’s bats are to be feared. Two months ago it was true the Phils struggled to plate runners, but the additions of Utley & Pence seem to have changed that. The thing that hasn’t changed is the narative, but a few hot weeks & the Phils could lead in runs scored after 162. It just kind of irks me when I listen to podcasts or read mainstream sources that continue to beat that drum. Am I missing something? I’d even be fine with some expert saying “You know what? There’s really not any offense in the NL this year that’s any good”

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