May 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) walks back to the mound after giving up a home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies Astonished To Learn They Are Now Better Than The Nationals


June 5, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (9) celebrates hitting a two run home run with first baseman Ryan Howard (6) during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies are no longer the third-best team in the National League East.

After last night’s 10-1 loss to the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals have fallen behind the Phils in the standings, and are now in third place in the division.

Perhaps I should wait a little longer before making “Natitude” jokes, but I can’t help it. I’m giddy.

Meanwhile the Phils, winners of four straight after finishing off a sweep of the Marlins yesterday 6-1, are alone in second place for the first time since Opening Day LAST YEAR. Not only that, there is now only one run of difference between the Phils’ and Nats’ run differential (-35 for the Phillies, -34 for the Nationals).

For everyone like me who picked the Nats to win the World Series this year, their fall from grace has really been quite astonishing. And things don’t look to be getting a whole lot better anytime soon.

I know, I know. This is just the worst news ever.

Stephen Strasburg is on the 15-day DL because of a strained muscle in his back. Bryce Harper is also on the 15-day DL thanks to the effects of running into two outfield walls in the last month, finally admitting yesterday he should have gone on the disabled list a month ago. Danny Espinosa, who by many offensive metrics has been the worst player in baseball, finally went on the DL after playing for weeks with a fractured bone in his wrist. Ross Detwiler is on the DL with back spasms and a strained oblique. Wilson Ramos is on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring.

Wow. That list is simply incredible.

Jayson Werth just returned from the disabled list, recovering from a strained hamstring, but he missed about a month of the season. Dan Haren (4-6, 5.09 ERA) has been brutal all season long, and as a team, the entire offense has been horrific.

I’m talking “worse than the Phillies” horrific.

The Nationals are 14th out of 15 NL teams in runs scored with 201 runs, averaging 3.4 runs per game. The Phils are a mediocre 11th with 222 runs, averaging 3.7 a game.

The Nationals’ team batting average of .230 is 13th in the NL, while the Phils’ average of .248 ranks 9th.

The Nationals’ team on-base percentage of .287 is dead last, while the Phils’ .307 OB% is 10th.

The Nationals’ team slugging percentage is 14th at .372, while the Phils are shockingly in 6th place with a slugging percentage of .402 (thank you Dom Brown!).

The Nationals’ OPS of .659 is 14th, while the Phils are 9th at .709.

And the Nats have hit 53 HRs so far in 2013, good for 9th in the NL. The Phils, again thanks to Dom Brown, are now 4th in homers with 62.

There is a reason these last few Phillies games have been a lot more fun. Scoring runs is fun. Hitting home runs is fun. Watching Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick hit triples is special tingly sensation-type fun.

Now, while the Phillies aren’t exactly tearing it up in a lot of categories, Washington is clearly having way more struggles with their offensive production, and it’s killing them in the standings.

And happily, your Philadelphia Phillies are reaping the rewards.

Still, there remains a rather tall and jagged mountain yet to climb. The Atlanta Braves keep winning. Their 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh last night was their fifth straight win, and they are the only team in the division with a positive run differential (+64). They head into Thursday’s action with a 7 1/2 game lead over the Phillies, which is their largest divisional lead since they won the NL East by 10 games back in 2004.

The Phils do have the Wild Card option and, with their four straight wins, are now 5 games out of that race.

But, first things first. The Phillies are in second place in the NL East. Dom Brown is still smoking homers. The Phillies have scored 27 runs in their last four games. Cole Hamels won a game. And the Phils have four games in Milwaukee and three games in Minnesota up next on the schedule.

Now’s the time for the team to make a push, and stepping on the heads of the poor, beat-up Nats is just step #1.

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Tags: Philadelphia Phillies Washington Nationals