So how are the Phillies 24-17 and the Braves 10-30?

Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera (37) and shortstop Freddy Galvis (13) high five after scoring in the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Thursday, May 12, 2016, in Atlanta. The Phillies won 7-4. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

The Phillies celebrate at the home of the Braves. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to be the two worst teams in baseball. The hometown nine has held up its end, so to speak. The Braves are 10-30, tied with Minnesota at the bottom of the bigs. The Phillies are a game out of first place in the National League East and 13 1/2 games ahead of the Braves. How’d that happen?

Hitting-wise, there’s not much difference. The Braves have the fewest runs and homers among MLB teams; the Phillies have the second-fewest. Defense-wise, there’s a difference. The Braves rank last in DRS (defensive runs saved) at minus-35; the Phillies are 20th at minus-8. Pitching-wise, there’s a big difference.

The Phillies’ starters have an ERA of 3.72, ninth-best in baseball; the Braves’ starters have an ERA of 4.61, which is 18th-best. (Still better than you’d expect from a 10-30 team, though.) Acquired in the Ken Giles trade from Houston, the 23-year-old Vince Velasquez has been splendid, which is no shock to the Braves. They tried to land him in the Evan Gattis deal a year earlier. They got Mike Foltynewicz instead.

Aaron Nola, who’s 22 and who’ll start against the 23-year-old Matt Wisler in Philly tonight, has been nearly as good as Velasquez if you go by ERA and better if you swear by FIP (fielding independent pitching). The journeyman Jeremy Hellickson has done for Philly as the Braves hoped Bud Norris might do for them — eat innings, keep his team close and hand the game to the bullpen.

Speaking of which: Going by Baseball-Reference’s WAR (wins above replacement), the Phillies’ third-, fourth- and fifth-best pitchers have been Hector Neris (eighth-inning guy), Jeanmar Gomez (closer) and David Hernandez (seventh-inning guy). The Braves hoped they’d find a similar tandem in Arodys Vizcaino, Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson. Vizcaino has done his bit; the other two have been awful.

The Phillies have benefited from a softer schedule: Of their first 41 games, 16 have come against teams below .500. (Then again, they opened the season by getting swept by the Reds, who are 12-26 since.) Of the Braves’ first 40 games, only three have come against a sub-.500 team. (Hooray for Arizona!)

But here’s the biggest difference: When the Phillies have kept it close, they’ve tended to win. (There’s your bullpen.) They’re 14-3 in one-run games, 4-0 in extra innings. The Braves are 2-6 in both categories. If we go by run differential, the Phillies should be 17-24, which means they’ve outperformed by seven games. The Braves should be 11-29, meaning they’ve underperformed by one.

If the playoffs started today — wouldn’t it be a surprise if they did? — the Phillies would be the National League’s first wild-card team. Even so, FanGraphs’ projections give Philly only an 0.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason after a 162-game season. Indeed, FanGraphs sees the Phillies being only a half-game better than the Braves from here on.

The Phillies are projected to finish a not-terrible-given-the-expectations 73-89; the Braves are projected to finish 59-103, which would leave them alone in 30th place, seven games behind the No. 29 Reds.

Moral of our story: If you’re a bad team — and the Phillies, their record notwithstanding, have been outscored by 28 runs —  a flying start won’t make you good. It does, however, beat the heck out of being 10-30. Anything would beat 10-30. (Except, I guess, 9-31.)

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Reader Comments 0

8 comments
UltraElf
UltraElf

Well, for one, the Phillies have a local owner as compared to Liberty Media whose interests are in DENVER. Next. the Phillies do not have a CLOWN for a manager. And the do not have the Marx Brothers running the front office! Next, they have more talent than the Braves. The Braves have no run support and the pitching staff gets shelled every other outing. Translation- Liberty Media cares as much about the Braves as the Atlanta Spirit did about the Thrashers-NONE! So the first thing that needs to happen is a local person or company needs to buy the Braves, then get competent mgmt and then get good prospects to replace the aging clown out that is on the field, immediately. Otherwise, Luxury Sky Box Park will open to a half empty park, or less.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Why???? Because it's baseball. Teams go from worst to first and teams go from first to worst. It's baseball, it happens! However, you have got to have leadership, and talent that develops fast. No team does it without motivation and leadership. The staff on the field has got to provide the motivation and desire to win. Who owns the team is only a fraction of what it takes to win. Kids have got to be motivated and pushed and their enthusiasm has to be embraced. Veterans on a team like the Braves are usually just going through the motions. Kids either follow that example or they infect the veterans with their youthful exuberance and revive in them that spark that they had when they were rookies. Wasn't it a Phillies team of long ago that was hopelessly behind in the standings at the halfway point of the season. Something happened to that team and they rose up to win the division making a miraculous turnaround. Put all of this in a bag, shake it up, and whatever falls out may give you the "WHY". I'm not suggesting that this will happen to the Braves....only that it could happen....because it's baseball. I've said it before, the Braves will play better under Snitker because he knows how to coach kids.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

So the Phillies have a better team!

DrTruth
DrTruth

Just think....Hart & Coppy haven't even started the trading deadline PURGE yet.  We might look back and remember .250 as the high mark of the season.

Eldirte
Eldirte

The biggest reason the Phillies are better than the Braves is because they are not owned by Liberty Media, they are not ran by the 3 johns, they have a better coaching staff and most of all they have better talent. There Bradley I got my point across in a paragraph that you couldn't in a whole article.

slydawg
slydawg

The biggest difference to me is ERA and bullpen. An 8 error difference does not equate to a 14 win gap. Also, Ruben Amarro Jr. wasn't as bad as everyone thought, and Phillies from office personnel has been remade over several times (see Shuerholtz, Cox, Gonzalez until last Monday).