The Philadelphia Phillies are the owners of the second-best record in the National League East division, at 73-72.
They have two potential paths to achieve it: the division and the second Wild Card.
They are 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the East, so it’s plausible they catch them.
As for the Wild Card, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the first spot virtually locked up.
The Phillies, however, are three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second spot, so that’s another possible avenue.
There is a slight problem, though: they can’t seem to break away from .500.
The Phillies, while talented, are a flawed team with several holes and weaknesses.
They are the definition of a middle-of-the-pack team.
Philadelphia is alive because the NL East has, by far, the weakest division leader, and because there are two Wild Card spots.
They are inconsistent, too: in their last 10 games, they have a 4-6 record and just can’t catch the Braves.
If we go to run differential, Philadelphia has a minus-21 mark: eight teams in the NL alone have a better run differential than the Phillies.
By record, they are ranked eighth in the NL.
Bryce Harper Needs More Support
But outside of that, there is not much to highlight.
Jean Segura is good, but probably not great.
Rhys Hoskins, while flawed, is a good cleanup hitter, but he is injured and won’t play again in 2021.
While reliever-turned-into-starter Ranger Suarez has impressed in the rotation, Kyle Gibson hasn’t lived up to the hype since being acquired from Texas at the trade deadline, and has a middling 4.85 ERA in Philadelphia.
The Phillies just seem to lack the punch to hang with the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card race.
They haven’t been able to find some help for Harper.
Harper is an MVP candidate, rocking a .309/.424/.614 line with 32 home runs.
He has a 171 wRC+, which means weighted Runs Created.
The wRC+ stat considers offensive contributions and adjusts them to ballpark, era, and other factors, and it helps us determine whether a player is above or below-average offensively.
Harper’s 171 wRC+ means he has been 71 percent better than his peers, which is outstanding.
The next-highest wRC+ on the Phillies?
Hoskins, at 128, and he is not playing anymore.
BRYCE HARPER NEEDS HELP https://t.co/PbOXSeWYzm
— Chris Thomas (@ChrisThomas102) September 12, 2021
A Failure To Develop Prospects
Part of the Phillies’ issues in recent years stem from a failure to develop quality major leaguers.
Only Hoskins and Nola are proven commodities developed in the Phillies’ farms.
Harper, Realmuto, Wheeler, and other stars were acquired, one way or another.
There is something really wrong with the Phillies’ player development.
They need to fix it if they want to keep up with the rest of the NL East, as you can make a case for all of them to be on the rise.
They were on the verge of getting significant contributions from homegrown pitcher Spencer Howard, but he didn’t pan out this year and they traded him to Texas.
#Phillies shake up their player development team.
A portent of changes to come? https://t.co/gAKUr9atxq
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) August 24, 2021
This will be an issue from this point on.