Looking Back: Phillies Lineup Comparison

phillies-oldlogoWhile 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.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog December 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm
    Let’s face it; the Phillies have had the golden touch the last few years. Last season, they had six position players play in 150 games or more (Howard 160, Werth 159, Feliz 158, Utley & Vic 156 and Rollins 155). Ibanez was the slacker, only playing in 134. By comparison, the Mets featured just one. Daniel Murphy played in 155.

    Last season, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado & Wright played together in just 26 games. And the Mets were 17-9 in those games.

    I agree that the Phils second “4” in the lineup is the key difference between the teams. It can be argued all day which team has the stronger core of players. But there’s no debate who has the stronger set of complimentary players: the Phillies hands down. And a few of those players are exceptional bargains for the Phils.

    Who’d have thunk that Jayson Werth, who entering the 2008 season, was a platoon right fielder and a player basically given up by the Dodger organization, would’ve turned out to be one of the best outfielders in baseball. Werth will earn a scant 5 mil this season after which he’ll be a free agent. And if Jayson produces another 36 homer, 100 RBI, 20 stolen base and Gold Glove defense campaign, he’ll likely command more money than Jason Bay and Matt Holliday next winter.

    Shane Victorino, a Rule 5 pickup from the Dodgers (anyone see a trend here?), has become the poster boy for grit and hard-nosed playing. The Flyin Hawaiian led the Phils with a .292 average, won a Gold glove and earned a mere 3.12 mil last season. That’s almost Alex Cora money.

    The same can be said for 85 year old Jaime Moyer, who led the Phils in wins in 2008 with 16, Raul Ibanez who had a galactic career half of season in 2009 along with relievers Scott Eyre, JC Romero and Chan Ho Park. And let’s not forget Brad Lidge, who was 41 for 41 in saves in 2008. Had Lidge blown a league average 7 games in 2008, the Mets would have won the division by 4 games.

    Not to mention, the Phils also have a much better onfield manager and coaching staff than the Mets. Did we talk about the medical staff? Yikes.

    Guess it’s time for some rum-spiked egg nog…