Looking Back: Phillies Lineup Comparison
While going through some posts from last offseason, I came across this one in particular titled Lineup Comparison: Phillies. It was written in mid-January, and the gist of it was that the Mets were at least one big bat short of posting an everyday lineup that had offensive potential comparable to the Phillies’ projected lineup.
This conclusion was based on the the premise that the teams would receive similar production from batters 1 through 4 and batters 8 and 9, and therefore:
Where the edge will come, then, is in batting spots 5 through 7. It’s my cockamamie theory that the team strongest 5-7 will be the NL East champions in 2009.
Note that neither my theory nor my conclusion was based on any hard data nor statistical analysis. It was more or less “off the cuff”. Read the entire article to get the full picture.
This is what the two teams looked like heading into spring training, in terms of the people who were projected to hit #5,6, and 7:
Raul Ibanez | Carlos Delgado
Jayson Werth / Geoff Jenkins | Ryan Church
Pedro Feliz / Gregg Dobbs | Fernando Tatis / Daniel Murphy
As it turned out, the Mets did get another big bat — Gary Sheffield. But looking back, I’m not sure Sheff would’ve been enough to produce a lineup that could run with the Phillies, even if Delgado, Reyes, and Beltran remained healthy. Because my conclusion was based on Ibanez regressing and Werth performing closer to his 2008 numbers. To make up for those two, Delgado would have had to produce a monster season. Not impossible, but not likely, either.
Granted, it was more than the offense that put the Phillies head and shoulders above the Mets. But, I think it is important to understand that a year ago — when the Mets thought they had Carlos Delgado for 150+ games — the team was still at least one bat short of competing, offensively, with the Phillies.
As it stands today, the Mets are minus Delgado, have replaced Church with Jeff Francoeur, and the Phillies have swapped Feliz/Dobbs for Placido Polanco. There’s also the matter of the catching position, which may or may not be upgraded on the Mets side — but even if it is, I don’t know if it is a difference-maker.
If you buy into my theory — which is dependent on the belief that the Mets vs. Phillies batters 1 through 4 are a wash — then batters 5 through 7 (or 8) will be what separates one club’s offense from the other. Right now the Phillies last four hitters will likely be Werth, Ibanez, Shane Victorino (or Polanco), and Carlos Ruiz. The Mets counter with Francoeur, Murphy, and two question marks.
That said, it appears that the Mets have significant work to do between now and April in order to bring their lineup up to the standard set by the Phillies. And that is in addition to rebuilding the pitching staff into something that compares to the NL Champions.