2013 and 1983 Parallels

The Phillies are old and everybody knows it. They had the oldest offense (average age 31.1) and fourth-oldest pitching staff (29.1) last season and it’s only getting worse a year later. With most predicting doom and gloom now that the young and energized Washington Nationals have taken hold of the National League East, optimists have taken to pointing to the 1983 Phillies as reason to stay on a presumably-sinking ship. The parallel is right there: in 1983, the Phillies had the oldest offense (31.8) and the second-oldest pitching staff (30.3) yet defied the odds and made it all the way to the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Baltimore Orioles.

The ’83 squad also derived almost all of its value from its pitchers. According to FanGraphs, they ranked 22nd out of 26 teams in offensive WAR (15.5), but also got the most WAR from starters (21.1) and the sixth-most from relievers (4.2). The 2012 Phillies, though, ranked 13th of 30 in offensive WAR (23.4), fifth in starting WAR (16.6), and 18th in relief WAR (2.7).

What gets lost, though, is that the ’83 team’s average age, which is weighted by playing time, was slanted a bit due to the 42-year-old Pete Rose and 39-year-old Joe Morgan. Of the ten players who played in at least 100 games, six were 30 years old or younger. Only seven players crossed the 100-game plateau for the 2012 team, but of the top ten, only two were 30 years old or younger.

Another factor that gets lost is that the ’83 team’s older players weren’t battling injuries the way Chase Utley and others have. Entering 1983, Rose had logged 10 consecutive seasons (excluding the strike-shortened ’81 season) with at least 700 or more plate appearances. And while Morgan wasn’t the iron man that Rose was, he too had logged 500 or more plate appearances dating back to 1969 (also excluding ’81). Mike Schmidt wouldn’t have to deal with injury problems until 1988.

When you look at the 2013 squad, you have a plethora of injury worries: Roy Halladay (shoulder), Utley (knees), Howard (Achilles), Carlos Ruiz (plantar fasciitis), Delmon Young (ankle), Freddy Galvis (back), Michael Stutes (shoulder), Justin De Fratus (elbow). This iteration of the Phillies is infinitely more fragile than the ’83 team and that is why so many are predicting disappointment for them this season. Probabilistically speaking, some of these ticking time bombs will go off — the Phillies are just hoping that the explosion is not too severe.

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17 comments

  1. Pencilfish

    March 13, 2013 11:18 AM

    The average age of the starting eight (if that’s what you mean by offense) in 2013 should be less than in 2012, assuming Brown, Revere (and maybe Ruf) make it to the starting lineup.

  2. Pmonge

    March 13, 2013 11:40 AM

    how about a positive post on here? there have to be some positive things going on

  3. Pmonge

    March 13, 2013 11:55 AM

    ok true. maybe there are just more things to be negative about.

  4. Bill Baer

    March 13, 2013 11:59 AM

    BTW in case you’re wondering why mine linked and yours didn’t, I manually linked mine. For some reason, comments stopped auto-linking URL’s and I don’t know how to fix it.

  5. LTG

    March 13, 2013 01:14 PM

    I noticed that a while back and figured something like that had happened. I’m not bothered by it. My 3 seconds saved by auto-linking is not that precious.

  6. AndrewBoc

    March 13, 2013 01:22 PM

    I think the injury worry with Delmon Young is that he will heal enough in order to find his way onto the field, no?

  7. CB

    March 13, 2013 03:09 PM

    @pencilfish

    I would highly doubt Ruf makes this team. Not just because he’s had a poor spring training, but because the Phillies history with players of his age and experience lead me to believe that he’ll be starting the year in the minors.

  8. Jonny5

    March 13, 2013 03:20 PM

    LOL @ AndrewBoc..

  9. pedro3131

    March 14, 2013 01:43 AM

    @cb

    “Okay, now the bad news. Player x is already 25 years old and has 39 at-bats in the big leagues, which doesn’t bode well for his becoming a superstar.”

    Care to guess who that was written about on his first appearance on a top prospects list?

  10. Bill Baer

    March 14, 2013 06:10 AM

    Pedro, that’s disingenuous. In the same paragraph, the author of that quote wrote, “there’s no way you can convince me that [...] [Player X] couldn’t out-hit at least a third of the everyday first basemen in the majors.”

  11. pedro3131

    March 14, 2013 12:54 PM

    Oh it’s ingenuous alright. Perhaps not an accurate comparison, and I don’t mean to suggest that Darin Ruf will be the next Ryan Howard, but there are such things as late bloomers and that element of unpredictability is what makes many of us fans

  12. Travis

    March 14, 2013 04:08 PM

    I think the offense is actually younger this year, though perhaps not by much. 1st, 2nd, SS, C are +1 year. 3B is even. CF is -7 years, RF[dom brown] is -3 years. Not sure how you want to call LF, but I think on average the offense is about a year younger than it was last year.

  13. pedro3131

    March 14, 2013 06:13 PM

    And I think that’s the point Bill was trying to make differentiating between average and Median. If you discard some of the outliers the core group of players are much older and more injury prone than the 83 group

  14. GB

    March 16, 2013 10:34 AM

    Looking at whether a post is positive or negative is the wrong perspective IMO…it should be whether the post contains truth or not that counts…fans can choose to ignore truth and just paint the poster/forum as either too negative or too positive, but that does not make the truth go away…CA is a good forum because it focuses alot on uncovering the truth with the Phils, tries not to parrot spin one direction or another and uses verifiable facts to support their opinions…

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