Thursday, June 4, 2009

Defending champs are road warriors

The Phillies are suddenly the 2nd best team in baseball, on the strength of their road record. Their road record is 19-6, while their home record in 12-14. That's right, they have one of the worst home records in baseball and are still one of the very best. If road record was the only statistic, the Phillies would be leading the next best team by 7 games.

What about last year, when they won the World Series? They were 44-37 on the road, 2nd best in baseball. Without even worrying about the strength of the road schedule, 19-6 is no scheduling fluke. Yes, they recently had a 4 game sweep against the worse-than-hapless Nationals in Washington. They also just had an impressive sweep of the Padres in San Diego where the Padres were 17-6 beforehand. They are getting a really, really good test right now by playing the Dodgers in LA. The Dodgers are currently 20-6 at home.

The numbers
Home - .250, 126 runs, 5.15 era
Away - .282, 161 runs, 4.59 era

One possible explanation is they just happened to get hot at the same time as they started playing a lot of road games. On May 14th, they were 16-16. Since then, they have gone 15-4. During that stretch, 11-2 on the road and 4-2 at home. Before the run, they were 8-12 at home and 8-4 on the road. So, it could be that the road trips just happened to coincide with an major uptick in offense, but 19-6 on the road is unreal. Right now, their starting rotation is still a mess, with several ERA's well over 5.00, but the bullpen is superb.

Most of the recent surprise W.S. champs disappeared the next year, from the Marlins to the White Sox to the Cardinals, but these Phillies aren't going anywhere. They are the road warriors of baseball and have to be taken very seriously at the season moves along.

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