Phillies = 10 Bottom Dwellers

The Phillies are the best team in baseball this season. Their pitching staff is amazing and the hitters are good. Here is a look at how many bad teams would need to be combined to make a team that would be comparable to the Phillies in talent.

Note: The WAR values used in the article are from 9/21 have changed a bit since I collected the data.

I started by looking at just the WAR production from the position-player starters on the Phillies. Also, I took the top-five starters and relievers. Here is the list of Phillies and their WAR:

Position Players (Total WAR = 25.7 WAR)
Carlos Ruiz (2.7)
Ryan Howard (1.6)
Chase Utley (3.7)
Placido Polanco (2.9)
Jimmy Rollins (3.5)
Hunter Pence (4.3)
Shane Victorino (6)
Raul Ibanez (-1.2)
John Mayberry (2.2)

Starting Pitching (Total WAR = 24.6 WAR)
Roy Halladay (8.0)
Cliff Lee (6.7)
Cole Hamels (5.0)
Roy Oswalt (2.3)
Vance Worley (2.6)

Relievers (Total WAR = 2.0 WAR)
Ryan Madson (1.6)
Kyle Kendrick (0.3)
Michael Stutes (-0.2)
Antonio Bastardo (0.9)
David Herndon (-0.6)

The total, at the time I collected the data, was 52.3 WAR. Then, I started adding players to get a similar team based on their 2011 WAR totals. Once one of the three categories — hitters, starters or relievers — was filled, I quit looking for more players in that category. I figured the talent pool could only get better, but at that point, the new team was comparable.

I wanted the individual players to be close in 2011 WAR. Meeting this requirement was tough with the starting pitching since the Phillies had a couple of the leagues top pitchers (Halladay and Lee). I just looked to get the total WAR for this group close.

I ordered the teams by record and used this order to select players:
San Diego
Chicago (Cubs)
Kansas City

The first group to fill up was the relievers. I expected it to fill up with only one or two teams. After looking at Minnesota and Houston, I only had one reliever over 0.9 WAR, so it took three teams to get the comparable bullpen.

Glen Perkins (1.8)
Jim Johnson (1.7)
Mark Melancon (0.6)
Wilton Lopez (0.5)
Fernando Rodriguez (0.3)

This group of relievers have 4.9 WAR this season.

It only took me two more teams (five total) to get the batters (27.3 WAR) picked out.

Matt Wieters (4.0)
Carlos Lee (3.0)
Dustin Ackley (2.7)
Chase Headley (2.6)
J.J. Hardy (3.8)
Adam Jones (2.7)
Cameron Maybin (4.3)
Jason Bourgeois (1.3)
Michael Cuddyer (2.9)

It would not be great lineup, but is fairly respectable.

Finding a starting pitching staff took a few more teams. Of the first five teams I looked at, only Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda of Seattle made the final list. As I went through five more teams, I passed over some great hitters that would have knocked players off the initial list (Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Alexi Ramerz, Mike Stanton, Andrew McCutchen and Alex Gordon). The position players would improve dramatically as teams were added to get the starting pitchers.

Finally after looking at total of 10 teams, a comparable pitching staff could be found (22.1WAR):

Felix Hernandez (5.5)
Matt Garza (4.8)
Brandon McCarthy (4.7)
Anibal Sanchez (3.7)
Michael Pineda (3.4)

Besides Hernandez, it is not exactly a staff that would be as feared as the Phillies staff. Some of the pitchers are having an outlier of year and have never been at this production level before. The next four teams — New York (Mets), Washington, Cincinnati and Chicago (White Sox) — all didn’t have in huge upgrades in pitching. It would take adding Masterson from Cleveland and Kershaw from L.A. to really make any meaningful additions to the new staff.

It took about five of the worst teams in the league combining talent to get a starting lineup and relief staff comparable to the Phillies. Finding a pitching staff was more difficult and took looking at 10 teams. The Phillies are definitely the best team in the league and the talent disparity between them and the worse teams is quite substantial.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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10 years ago

Good thing they are a young team too…. Oh wait. But seriously do they have a future in 3, 4 or 5 years?

10 years ago
Reply to  Peter

If the payroll stays in the top 3, yes. Of course, that alone is no guarantee if it’s spent poorly (Mets, Cubs, etc.)

10 years ago
Reply to  Peter

They’re strong in A-ball….but the better question is “who cares?”. They’re obviously a win now team and they’re positioned extremely well to do that this year and the next couple years as well. Isn’t that the point?

10 years ago
Reply to  Peter

If the Phillies are willing to pay Rollins and Hamels there worth they have there pitching core for atleast 3 more years (and looking more into the future is impossible) and would have replaced Ibanez with Brown.
Only Madson of the relievers is bound to leave, because some team will overpay again for a closer

10 years ago
Reply to  Anders

You mean, if they’re willing to pay Rollins at least a little bit more than he’s worth.

Scout Finch
10 years ago
Reply to  Peter

Isn’t that like asking if the Red Sox or Yankees have a future in 3,4, or 5 years ?

10 years ago
Reply to  Scout Finch

Exactly. People dont yet realize that the Phils have a higher payroll than the Red Sox coming into this season.

10 years ago
Reply to  Scout Finch

no, Philly doesn’t have a history of being rich. Their stadium has only been packed since they won the world series. Philly sports fans are awful. Once they start to look like the Cubs, old, declining players with contracts they can’t move, I bet the bank isn’t packed anymore. Then you have those big contracts with a lower payroll.

10 years ago
Reply to  Scout Finch

Wait, you mean fans started taking more of an interest when the franchise built a new stadium and actually putting a quality product on the field? You’re right, that kind of thing only ever happens in Philly.

For the record, the Phillies have been in the top third of the league in attendance every season since CBP opened. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of your bullshit!

10 years ago
Reply to  Scout Finch

There was a Mets/Phils game at CBP years ago. Jose Reyes slid headfirst into second and was down and was not getting up. You know what the Phils fans did? They cheered.

Jose Reyes, after a bit, finally started getting up, and was back on his feet. You know what the Phils fans did? They booed.

I lost all respect, for those fans, that day.

This is accompanied by the Phils fan throwing up on the Cop and his family on purpose, as well as the constant harassment of Rays fans at CBP (during the WS).

I know it only takes one idiot, but you just don’t hear as many terrible fan stories as you do about the phillies fans.

Brad Johnsonmember
10 years ago
Reply to  Scout Finch


To be fair, like with Irving, Jose Reyes is one of the least likable players in baseball. For me, he’s on a very short list with Matt Kemp. No other player is a tenth as unlikable as those two (not hyperbole).

It’s human nature to be pleased when someone you don’t like suffers ill. Reyes, by drawing the ire of the Phillies fans, earned those cheers and boos. As a Met, he should be proud, it’s a sign he’s doing his job.

10 years ago
Reply to  Peter

They have a pretty bleak future beyond the next couple years. I know everyone here wants to think Halladay is well beyond being the greatest pitcher of all time and is going to be putting up 8 WAR seasons until he dies at the age of 150, but he most likely isn’t going to be worth his contract by the end of it. Nor will Lee. Howard isn’t even an average player anymore and is already a humongous albatross.

Hamels is going to be a superstar for years to come, but he will also command a huge contract. Domonic Brown is still essentially a prospect, even though he’s been in the Show for a while – kind of similar to Rick Porcello’s situation, but Kid Rick is younger and is better at baseball. Not exactly the kind of player I would bank on being the position player of the future.

The Phillies are great now – which is obviously the point of their organizational strategy – but their 3-5 year future is probably the 3rd or 4th best in the division. If I was a Phillies fan, looking up at the championship flag(s) will more than make up for some lean years in the middle of this decade.

10 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

So how are those Yankees doing now, anyway? I mean, Mantle, Ruth and DiMaggio are dead, Jackson’s retired, and Mattingly manages the Dodgers. I haven’t checked the standings in a while, but I’m guessing, based on your logic, that they must be pretty miserable over in the Bronx.

Barkey Walker
10 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

The Yankees have a much larger city to draw from.

How big is the Philadelphia area? As big as DC. The two teams should, long run, be about the same quality.