Tuesday, September 30, 2008
NL East Champs: September 2008 By the Numbers
Ok, now is the time to come clean. Did you EVER think this Phillies team would actually cross the finish line this year as the NL East champs back on August 31st?
I mean, the Phils were a game back in the NL East of the Mets, they weren't hitting consistently, and their starting staff was starting to get a little inconsistent. And seemingly, whenever the Phillies were winning, the Mets were winning too.
And then, September happened and the Phils flipped a switch many of us believed this team was not talented enough to have. How much did having the heartless Mets in our division help? Probably quite a bit, but as a Philly fan, I'll take my successes where I can get them.
By the Numbers:
The number of wins the Phils chalked up in the month of September. This was exactly what they needed to do in September, as the Mets, with their bullpen imploding and their key players not hitting with men on base, barely played .500 ball (13 - 12).
That was more of less the difference this year; the Phils got it done when it counted and the Mets did not.
Ryan Howard's OPS for the month of September. If you're not a stat guy, let me just tell you that's about as good as it gets for an offensive player. Howard had an other wordly OBP of .422 and he hit 11 homers and 32 RBI. He carried this team offensively in September and has been garnering a good bit of MVP talk (misguided, though it may be).
The OBP of leadoff man Jimmy Rollins. It has been said many times; the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. When Rollins is getting on base 41% of the time, this gives Howard and Utley so many opportunities to do damage. While it did not happen as emphatically as last year, Rollins once again came through in September when it mattered.
It was particularly fitting that Rollins made the diving/sliding stab of a grounder that closed out the Nationals last Saturday and gave the Phils the NL East crown. He stood up for his teammates very publicly in a way that could have backfired and held back a lesser player. Rollins did not shrink from the spotlight when he put it on himself by criticizing the fans; the exact opposite occurred.
The BA for Shane Victorino in the month of September. I've never been a Victorino guy, insomuch as, I've never believed he was cut out to be a full-time starter. While he may not be a full-time centerfielder, he certainly proved himself a player that deserves at least 500 ABs regardless of the outfield position.
The combined BA for Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste in the month of September. I understand that these guys have done a pretty decent job in handling the pitching staff, but they have to do a little better than a .172 batting average if the Phils are to make any noise against the Brewers in the playoffs.
The number of wins for 45 year old Jamie Moyer in the month of August. What more can I say about the old man that hasn't already been said? He finished the year with an astounding 16 wins and I see no reason for him not to return next year, barring some sort of offseason physical problem.
The ERA for Chad Durbin for the month of September. The Phillies do not win the NL East without Chad Durbin. Other than Brad Lidge, he's been their best reliever all year and I'd like to think that some of his usage this month was because of the circumstances, but they will need the pre-September Chad Durbin to progress in the playoffs.
Thanks to their first baseman and 45 year old starter, the Phils are once again NL East champs. You could make the argument that these two players represent the co-MVPs of the 2008 Phillies team. You would have to include Brad Lidge in any case for team MVP. He finished the season going 41 for 41 in save opportunities, despite the fact that his last few saves have been of the high wire variety. Contrast that with the Mets who lost Billy Wagner and seemed to never find a replacement closer.