The Atlanta Braves have scored 232 runs in 69 games. Every other team in baseball has scored more — except the Philadelphia Phillies, who have mustered 221 runs in 71 games. Thirtieth place is no longer ours!
As we know, the Braves were last — or nearly last — in almost every significant offensive category deep into this season. They’re still No. 30 in home runs and slugging percentage and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging). But they’re a comparatively lusty 27th in batting average, and Nos. 28 and 29 are the Dodgers, which makes no sense, and the Mets, which does when you consider they’ve been missing David Wright, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud.
The Phillies are last in BA, last in OPB. As Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes:
It was inconceivable how poorly the Braves were hitting, and it’s not like they’ve since turned into an offensive juggernaut. But as you look at the numbers today, there has been a shift. The Braves’ offense ranks low. The Phillies’ offense is worse.
On the morning of May 20, we wondered how the Phillies were 24-17 and the Braves 10-30. The schedule had something to do with it, and so did Philly’s then-uncanny record in one-run games. Since the the time of that writing, the Phillies are 6-24. They’ve lost seven in a row and 11 of 12. Vince Velasquez, their best pitcher, is on the disabled list. (He’s scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday.) In those 11 losses, they’ve scored 23 runs.
Since the Phillies were the one team picked to finish worse than the Braves before the season started — and were one of two, the Reds being the other, to finish below them last year — we’ve grown accustomed to keeping tabs on them. On the morning of May 20, the Braves were 13 1/2 games behind the Phils; in a month, that deficit has been halved.
Last week we asked if the Braves could hold off the Reds and Twins for the worst record and the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. The local nine has already pulled two games ahead of Minnesota, which is either good or bad news depending on your view of the worth of the 1-1 pick. But I wouldn’t count the Phillies out of this heated pursuit. They’re bad and getting worse.
Super fun reading: