SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Baseball Nostradamus

Where would you have picked this team to finish?

1. Its closer had an ERA over 7 last year and had a few stints on the disabled list.
2. Its set-up man kicked a chair and missed two months.
3. The #3-#5 starters (at least, the guys who filled these roles at the beginning of the season) have been inconsistent at best, and one of them went on the disabled list for the year before the halfway point of the season.
4. It doesn't really have an effective lefty reliever.
5. Everyone in the starting lineup spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list save one player, with one All-Star missing 2 months, another missing about a month, and two of the starting position players spending two stints on the disabled list.
6. Its leading pinch-hitter for years went something like 4-40 as a pinch-hitter before being designated for assignment.
7. A career journeyman, AAAA player started about 74 games as an infielder (he hadn't started as many games in his entire career before this season, let alone in a single season).
8. Its leadoff hitters combined on-base percentages are about .325.
9. One of the free agents it signed to firm up the bullpen proved to be more of pyromaniac than a fireman.
10. At one point in June, on a road trip the team got shut out in 3 straight games. and went scoreless for about 30 straight innings.

Give up?

It's the Philadelphia Phillies, who have 86 wins now, the most in the National League.

I know it could be romantic to name Dusty Baker manager of the year because the Reds are way ahead in the NL Central or Bobby Cox because it's his last year, but Charlie Manuel should be the National League manager of the year (barring a collapse by his squad). Put simply, he continued to patch together lineups with guys named Ransom, Sardinha, Hoover, Dobbs, Castro, Gload, Schneider, Francisco, and he put the team in a position to charge ahead once the injured stars returned. He's an excellent manager, and the results this year are showing.

If you told the average Phillies' fan that all of the above would happen and that the team would be 3 up with 15 games to go, they would have signed up for it. The last 2+ weeks ought to be interesting, and the Phillies, if past history under Manuel is any indication, should enjoy a fine run to the finish. Peter Gammons of Sporting News Radio has suggested that with a rotation of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels, the Phillies might be the team to beat in the post-season.

We'll see.

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