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MLB Predictions / Previews: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Team Preview – Philadelphia Phillies

In MLB betting, the type of champion varies from year to year. Sometimes we see a dominant franchise rule the roost wire to wire and take the World Series odds; the 2007 Boston Red Sox come to mind. Sometimes we see good but not great teams overcome their flaws to play their best baseball in October and win it all. The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals come to mind, and so do the 2008 Phillies.

I’m not saying the Phillies were a fluke; I’m just saying they weren’t the best team in baseball last season. I still don’t think they are, so I believe they’ll be hard pressed to beat out the Mets for the NL East title this online betting season. 

There’s no arguing that the Phillies can bop and they have a park that’s conducive to that style. Ryan Howard strikes out more than a computer programmer at swanky singles’ club, but he can still hit the ball a mile and she should start 2009 stronger than he did 2008. Chase Utley is coming off hip surgery but he’s already sliding and jacking bombs in spring training, so he appears to be approaching full strength to start the 2009 MLB odds. Jimmy Rollins’ MVP 2007 was probably his career year, but he’s certainly still an elite hitter at his position who plays steady defense. 

Shane Victorino gets less fan fare, but he’s another fantastic defender who sets the table at the top of the Phillies order, runs well and contributes a bit of everything offensively. Joining the already-potent lineup is Raul Ibanez, who is baseball’s walking oxymoron in that he’s “famously underrated.” He’s a professional hitter who makes up for his subpar defense by consistently smashing in runs. He’s a more than adequate replacement for the departing Pat “The Bat” Burrell. 

When I see the Phillies’ rotation, I see question marks. Cole Hamels is a Cy-Young-caliber hurler and probably has the game’s best changeup now, but he logged a ton of innings last season and had trouble staying healthy in the past. His supporting cast doesn’t lack talent but isn’t reliable; Jamie Moyer could fall off the face of the Earth at any moment, given that he’s 46 friggin’ years old. Brett Myers throws gas but is maddeningly inconsistent; Joe Blanton will never dominate but you know what you’re getting with him. 

It seems the Phillies don’t have to worry about blowing leads in the 2009 MLB odds. They acquired maligned closer Brad Lidge from the Astros for a song and all he did was post one of the best seasons ever by a closer; 1.95 ERA, 92 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings and, most importantly, perfect for the year on saves – 41 for 41 in the regular season and seven for seven in the playoffs.  He’s back to being a truly dominant reliever. 

There’s no question the Phillies will contend again in 2009 and a repeat World Series crown wouldn’t exactly be a stretch, but they still may just barely crack the top five teams in the majors in terms of overall depth and talent. A 90-plus-win season seems like a foregone conclusion, but would you bet on them at the sportsbook against the Red Sox or Yankees in the World Series?

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  1. As a Phillies fan I would love to see them repeat, but I do agree that a lot of things went right for them last season that will be hard to replicate this season. They have a good shot at the Wild Card spot, but the Mets should win the NL East.