Most national pundits are not especially high on the Phillies’ chances in 2014. You can find a good deal of support for both the Braves or Nationals in the National League East, but I don’t think there’s anyone of note who has picked the Phillies. ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield has taken it a step further and rated the Phillies as the second worst team in all of baseball. Click here if you want to read it.
Many Phillies fans think that Schoenfield is biased against the Phillies due to this article he wrote before the 2011 season. I thought that article was either a blatant attempt to take a contrary position or a perfect illustration at why it can be foolish to use the previous season’s WAR when making predictions. However, I didn’t sense any general malice towards the Phillies.
As for this season’s predictions, Schoenfield isn’t exactly breaking new ground in his analysis. He points out that the Phillies (News flash!) have an old team, and since they weren’t especially good last year, age related decline is likely going to make them worse in 2014.
His outlook seems especially pessimistic. He doesn’t expect that Ryan Howard will rebound from two injury plagued seasons, and he also doesn’t seem to be too high on Dom Brown’s chances. For some reason, Schoenfield seems to think that at age 26, Brown has little chance to improve. Oddly, he also holds Marlon Byrd’s expected regression against them. While it might not be realistic to expect Byrd to repeat his 2013 performance, even a diminished Byrd is still likely better than what the Phillies had in right field for 2013.
Obviously, based on his 2011 prediction, we shouldn’t necessarily put too much stock in any prediction that Schoenfield makes. But this is certainly a depressing change from three years ago when it was shocking for someone to write that the Phillies might actually miss the playoffs.