Do you want a reason why the 2012 season has been a disaster?
Well, yeah, there are a few for sure. Halladay’s injury, Lee’s inconsistency, and a brutal bullpen are all major culprits.
But it wasn’t until I was looking through the National League team leaders in home runs today that it really dawned on me how far the Phils have fallen. Allow this next sentence to sink in…
Jimmy Rollins leads the Phillies in home runs.
That’s right. It’s August 20, and the Phils’ lead-off hitter, their 33-year-old shortstop, who is by no means any kind of power threat anymore, is tied with Carlos Ruiz for the team lead in home runs with 14.
And if you think that’s scary, check out who is third and fourth on the team in homers. John Mayberry and Ty Wigginton, each with 10.
When your top four home run hitters are Rollins, Ruiz, Mayberry and Wigginton, your season is officially in the toilet.
Only the Astros, who by the way may be the worst baseball team since the Cleveland Spiders of the early 20th century, has a home run leader with as few homers as the Phils (Jed Lowrie with 14).
Of course, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard’s absence from the lineup for the first half of the season is probably the biggest reason for the team-wide power drought this year. They are the number three and four hitters, the power bats who get paid a ton of money to hit the ball out of the ballpark. And they were missing in action for a long time.
But it’s all part of a continuing disappearance of the Phils’ once patented power game. Remember when people called Citizens Bank Park a bandbox? No one is calling it that anymore, mainly because Phillies hitters can’t get the ball out of the park with any consistency anymore. Take a look at the home run totals since the Phils’ first division title in 2007…
2007: 213 HRs
2012: 119 through 121 games
If you project this year’s totals over 162 games, the Phils will finish with 164 home runs, which is actually an increase of 11 homers over last year, when the team won 102 games. That number surprised me.
However, last year the Phillies could overcome their lack of power because of their otherworldly pitching staff. That pitching staff has not performed anywhere close to last year’s levels, hence the current team record.
Of course, this is not a new story. The Phillies’ power outage has been going on for three years now. This is not breaking news.
Still, it is jarring to see the names Rollins, Ruiz, Mayberry and Wigginton as the Phils’ home run leaders this late in the season.
The hope is that with a full season in 2013, Utley and Howard can return to some semblance of the players they once were. It’s been especially encouraging to see Chase Utley’s power return, and the hope is that Howard’s heel and experience this year for Dom Brown will help them both increase their power potential.
However, don’t be surprised if the Phillies make a run at a slugging outfielder this offseason. I don’t think they’ll be players for Josh Hamilton, and I don’t think that would be the right move for the franchise. But he certainly would bring back some of the power that has long been missing from this lineup, so I don’t think a play for him is out of the question.
The most likely hope, however, will be for their long-tenured superstars to start powering the ball out of the park on a regular basis once again.
Or, they could re-sign Pat Burrell.