Almost one month into the M.L.B. regular season, which started on March 29 of this year — the earliest Opening Day in league history — and the Philadelphia Phillies have played 21 games. As with every year and every team, baseball analysts and fans alike made predictions in the winter and early spring about the Phillies’ upcoming season. These projections were made by local Phillies and Philadelphia sports specific websites and media platforms, as well as national news and sports outlets. The national media sources tended to be slightly more conservative in their estimations. Forecasts were made in areas ranging from pitching and hitting statistics to playoffs, rankings, and trades. After one month of regular season ball games, it might be interesting to revisit some of these predictions and see if the team is on the right track to making these predictions come true.
FanGraphs.com, which provides Sabermetrics (an objective, statistics-based way of evaluating players overwhelmingly popular in the game today) on every player in Major League Baseball history, gave us a relatively unenthusiastic and safe prediction for the Phillies’ ultimate record for the 2018 season. Although they have the team beating their 2017 (66-96) record by eight games, that would only put them at 74 wins and 88 losses. They also predict a fourth-place finish in the N.L. East, behind the Nats, Mets and Braves — in that order. USA Today used season simulations from six writers and foresee a third place finish behind the Nats and the Mets but tied with the Braves for thirds place and finishing with a slightly better record of 76-86. This is an exciting prediction given that the Phillies face the Braves for three games tomorrow through Sunday at home. A record of 74-88 or 76-86 would have the Phillies winning roughly 45 percent of their games. At this point in the season, the Phillies are surpassing this prediction. They have played 21 games, with a total of 14 wins and 7 losses, which means they have won about 67 percent of their games thus far.
In addition to overall season records, predictions were made in the camp of individual batting success. BaseballProspectus.com anticipates four players on the 2018 Phillies roster hitting 20 or more home runs before the season is through. These players and their predicted season sum of homers are as follows: outfielder Nick Williams (20), third baseman Maikel Franco (22), first baseman/designated hitter/catcher Carlos Santana (23), and first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins (36). If this prediction comes to fruition, that will be a drastic increase from last year when Franco (24) and Tommy Joseph (22) were the only two over the 20-home run mark. Below are predicted statistics on each of these player’s individual success as hitters from PhilliesNation.com on Opening Day. (They tend to be a little more generous than the Prospectus predictions in terms of HRs.)
Nick Williams – 645 PA, .285/.341/.480, 22 HR
Maikel Franco – 627 PA, .281/.355/.522, 30 HR
Carlos Santana – 675 PA, .265/.370/.475, 28 HR
Rhys Hoskins – 550 PA, .260/.360/.530, 36 HR.
Currently, the aforementioned players have these averages:
Nick Williams – 46 PA, .217/.294/.326, 1 HR
Maikel Franco – 58 PA, .241/.292/.414, 2 HR
Carlos Santana – 73 PA, .151/.301/.288, 2 HR
Rhys Hoskins – 65 PA, .323/.483/.615, 4 HR.
As you can see, since the Phillies have played 21 out of the 162 games in a regular season, they have already completed 13 percent of their games. These plate appearance and home run numbers are not up to speed with that 13 percent Furthermore, with the exception of Hoskins, the batting averages are not as good at this point in the season as was predicted.
Although the Phillies seem to be surpassing their predicted wins-losses record, their hitting seems to be falling behind the track of success that was predicted almost a month ago on Opening Day. Though they seem to have not yet played much against the predicted top teams for their division, their defense seems to be doing really well at this point in the season — which was not envisioned before Opening Day. As for the offense, hitting can be quite sporadic, so there is hope the Phillies batters can improve to the point of achieving their predicted batting averages. What can be said about this spring with near certainty is that the Phillies are on their way to having a better season than their last!