Differences in Sustainability: The 2018 and 2016 Phillies

The 2018 Phillies are currently 24-16, they have the second best record in both the NL East and the NL in general. This isn’t the first time the Phillies have gotten off to a hot start in the rebuild era. Leaving the day on May 18, 2016 the Phillies were 24-17, with the second best record in the division and the third best record in the NL. We know how that story went with the Phillies ending up 71-91 or 47-74 after that hot start. They ended up at a -186 run differential, which had their Pythagorean record at 62-100, pointing to a team that could have been even worse. Now no one is really arguing that the 2016 and 2018 Phillies are in a similar spot or are similar teams at all, but by exploring the differences we can see how far the team has actually come.

The Run Differential

Run differential is a volatile statistic where one or two good or bad games can make a big swing, but it is useful on a larger scale. On May 18, 2016 the Phillies were at -28 on the year. That is bad, not mediocre, actually bad. At the time I argued the Phillies were sacrificing blowouts and winning close games, to that point 13 of their 24 wins had been by a single run. In contrast the 2018 Phillies currently stand at +42. That is 3rd in the NL behind the Braves and an under performing Cubs team. The 2018 Phillies have only won 6 1 run games, and have been convincingly beating teams when they get a lead. Continue reading…