"Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical."
Yankees' great Yogi Berra had a point. There's a reason major league teams invest in sports psychologists for their players. Enduring a grueling 162-game schedule requires the right mindset.
The 2023 Philadelphia Phillies certainly understand this. They're fresh off a storybook 2022 World Series run that ended just two games shy of victory. In fact, those "2 more wins" have become a mantra for this year's version of the Phils.
It's interesting what winning and success do to players. Some rise to the occasion and improve. Others worry if they have the talent to return to their sport's biggest stage.
No Phillies player understands this concept more than Jose Alvarado. The transformation of Alvarado as a reliever from the time of his demotion last year until now is incredible. And it doesn't happen without a mindset shift.
Any Phils fan will recall the home run Alvarado surrendered to Houston's Yordan Alvarez in Game 6 of the World Series. Of course, Alvarado remembers it -- but he doesn't let it affect him. What at one time in his career would be a crushing blow, he's turned into a strength.
Phillies taking the right mindset to their games
“Anyone can go crazy over giving up the homer at such an important moment in the game, right?” he told The Athletic's Matt Gelb through an interpreter. “But not every baseball player is capable of getting over it. I feel that I am capable of doing that. Because I know how baseball works. I know how baseball is. And that is part of my growth.”
Another Phillies player who gets how baseball works is Brandon Marsh. The 25-year-old outfielder - like Alvarado - know it comes down to your mindset. "It's pretty cool, man,” Marsh told MLB.com's Theo DeRosa. “It's cool knowing that the work -- we get up, go grind in the offseason, even when you didn't want to half the time -- is paying off.”
The pay off for Marsh has been nothing short of impressive. He leads the team with a .326 batting average and .410 on-base percentage. And he's off to such a hot start that he was named to MLB's "Team of the Month" for April.
Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper. What more can you say about him? Recovering from any injury or surgery -- especially one like Tommy John -- is no simple feat. Harper, instead, shattered expectations and returned quicker than anyone would have guessed.
"I tried to go through the whole process and understand where my body and mind was. I tried to do everything I could to get to this point. It's been a grind," Harper told ESPN before Monday's game.
His turnaround time? Only 160 days since his surgery on November 23, 2022.
New approaches. New thought patterns. New faces and a new lineup. The 2023 Phillies are poised to be better than last year. Time will tell whether the new mindset will get this team those two extra wins -- and a parade down Broad Street.