On the other hand, the Phillies have been in control in the NL East for much of their first 91 games. The Phillies enter the All-Star Break with a Major League leading 57-34 record and a 3 ½ game lead in the NL East. The Phillies also hold a 1 ½ game lead over the Red Sox for the best record in baseball. This is where I should go from statistic to statistic to show just how evenly these teams are matched and show how brilliant the baseball writers were for picking these two teams to win but I am not doing that. It seems that in recent weeks the baseball writers who create the ESPN.com Power Rankings do not fully buy into the fact that the Phillies are in fact the best team in baseball. For the past five weeks, the Red Sox or Yankees have held down the top spot in the Power Rankings despite the fact the Phillies have consistently held the best record in baseball during that span. The Phillies have not held the top spot since May 30th.
Turn on any Philadelphia sports talk radio and you hear the concerns about the Phillies. They are not hitting the ball the way they used to. I will be the first to admit that they are not hitting the ball the way they used to (and it is a concern of mine) but they are doing other things better than they used to. There are only two teams in all of baseball (the White Sox and Rangers) who have struck out less than the Phillies hitters. The Phillies, despite only stealing 61 bases, have the best stolen base percentage in all of baseball swiping bags safely 85% of the time. Also, despite Ryan Howard’s strange streak of errors at first base, the big man is typically solid with the glove as are the rest of his teammates. The Phillies are tied for first in the Majors in fielding percentage at .987.