Ever since the Phillies made a big splash in the offseason by acquiring J.T. Realmuto and signing Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper, there have been murmurs throughout the fan base that this could be the year. The 2019 Phillies could finally make it back to the World Series. The expectations of fans have only grown after a hot start to the season. This has caused fans to attempt to compare this team to the 2008 Phillies that led the franchise to a World Series title. With all of this said, let’s take a look at how the two teams compare through one month of the season.
Winning Percentage and Placement in Division
In terms of wins and losses, both the 2008 and 2019 Phillies were very similar through the first month of the season. In 2008, at the end of April, the Phillies winning percentage was .536 with a record of 15-13. This placed the team in third place in the NL East behind the Florida Marlins and the New York Mets. This year, the Phillies finished the month of April with an overall winning percentage of .552 and a record of 16-13. This record currently has the Phillies in first place in the division. Overall, with a higher winning percentage and place in the division, the advantage here goes to the 2019 Phillies.
Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
The statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR) has been found to be one of the most important statistics that lead to team success. For batting, the 2008 Phillies had a WAR of 5.9 in April while this year’s WAR for batting is only at 4.5. When it comes to pitching WAR through April, the 2008 Phillies were at 2.2 while this year’s team is slightly above that mark with a 2.4 WAR. Although the 2019 Phillies do have the advantage when it comes pitching WAR, overall the 2008 Phillies had a better WAR through the month of April, thus giving them the advantage over this year’s team in this category.
Batting average is one of the main statistics many fans look at when trying to compare players throughout the league and history. For the 2008 Phillies, the team ended the month of April with a batting average of .258. The 2019 Phillies only have a .243 batting average thus far. The recent struggles of the Phillies offense has caused this number to go down and ultimately gives the advantage to the 2008 squad.
On-Base Percentage (OBP) has become more and more important throughout baseball since it combines batting average with walks and other things such as hit by pitches. Oddly enough, both the 2008 and 2019 Phillies both had the same exact OBP through the month of April. Both teams had an OBP of .335. Although the actual statistic may not give an advantage to either team at first glance, the 2019 Phillies should get the advantage here. This year’s squad has a much lower batting average than the 2008 team. This means the 2019 team has had to find several other ways to manufacture baserunners. Whether it has been through walks or hit by pitches, the 2019 Phillies have done enough to equal the OBP of the ‘08 team despite having a lower batting average, and thus gets the advantage in this category.
The starting rotations of the two squads often get compared. The main comparison is usually between the aces of the two staffs: Cole Hamels and Aaron Nola. Both of these pitchers are vital to their respective teams and help shape the performance of the overall rotation. As a whole, the 2008 starting rotation had an ERA of 4.37 through the first month of the season. In comparison, the 2019 Phillies have a 4.27 ERA. Surprisingly, the advantage here goes to the 2019 Phillies despite the struggles of Aaron Nola so far this season. Thus far in 2019, Nola has yet to look like he did a year ago when he placed third in the NL Cy Young Award voting. If Nola can get back to this form, the rotation could definitely lower this ERA substantially.
The bullpen is where most of the finger pointing has gone for the Phillies in recent years. The bullpen has struggled to become dominant and has lacked consistency over the years. This is exemplified in the comparison to the 2008 team, too. At the end of the month of April, the 2008 Phillies’ bullpen had an ERA of just 2.65. This season’s bullpen has not had nearly as much success early on as their ERA currently sits at 4.05. Clearly, this is one of the largest advantages for the 2008 Phillies in comparison to this year’s team. It is clear that improvements need to be made in this area if the team realistically wants to make a World Series run. With some solid options still available, could we see some new additions soon? Only time will tell.\
When comparing these two teams, injuries early on in the season are often overlooked. Injuries can easily derail the performance of a team whenever they occur. This is especially true when it comes to this comparison. The 2008 Phillies dealt with a few injuries early on with players such as Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollin being placed on the 15-day disabled list during the month of April. The 2019 Phillies have also had to deal with an abundance of injuries. Thus far, the Phillies have placed Tommy Hunter, Roman Quinn, David Robertson, Odubel Herrera, Victor Arano, Scott Kingery, and Jean Segura on the injured list at some point. This plethora of injuries have greatly affected the 2019 Phillies. Therefore they receive the bigger disadvantage in this category.
After comparing all these statistics it is clear the 2008 and 2019 Phillies have several similarities and differences. Through just one month of the season, the numbers are extremely similar in several categories. However, the overall advantage has to go to the 2008 squad. This team has the clear advantage in the bullpen. The bullpen of this World Series team was one of the most vital to their success. The 2019 Phillies have yet to solidify this part of their team. The 2019 season is still young. There is plenty of time for improvement. With time, the 2019 Phillies should be able to solidify and strengthen the bullpen and ultimately grow the comparisons to World Champions of Baseball, the 2008 Phillies.