Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Phillies vs. MLB's Best

ESPN's Peter Gammons wrote a column Saturday about the strength of the National League West and referenced the winning percentages of division teams when playing outside their own division. At first glance, it didn't look good for the Phillies compared to other playoff contenders.

Gammons wrote: "In games played outside their own division (versus teams from the NL East, Central and interleague play) the NL West this weekend was 24 games over .500, the NL Central five under, the NL East 24 under; in the American League, the West was 33 over .500, the East 28 over, the Central 37 under."

It'd be easy to assume that the NL East-leading Phillies might be in trouble in the playoffs considering their division is 24 under--and second-worst among all divisions. But that's where statistics lie.

The Phillies clearly play in a bad division, as reflected by Gammons' numbers. But that doesn't mean the team itself has played badly against teams outside of their division. That distinction matters as the Phillies head toward the playoffs.

The Phillies were just 20-22 against teams outside of their division through June. But they went 23-10 in July and August, and overall they're 45-37 for the season. Even better, the team has a winning record against two of their three potential NL playoff opponents: Colorado (4-2) and St. Louis (4-1), as well as possible World Series foe New York (2-1). On the down side, the Phillies are just 3-4 this season vs. Los Angeles and 1-2 against Boston.

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