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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

5/27/21 : Phursday Phoughts

A wise baseball person once told me that a MLB baseball team’s identity is usually evident after about 50 games or so. This year’s Phillies team has now played 50 games and hovers around the .500 mark in record. Like every other team in the NL East division they have been hampered by injuries to key contributors so perhaps the wins column has been reduced accordingly.

However, what we’ve witnessed thus far is an inconsistent ability to score runs, an affinity to strike out ( seemingly an endless amount of called third strikes 🤷‍♂️), plenty of close games ( both wins and losses ) and ongoing struggles defensively ... both in fielding errors committed and mental thoughts omitted 🤪. There have been far too many instances where throws have been made to the wrong base or without “oomph”, balls that should have been caught that weren’t ( in many cases fielding errors weren’t warranted but still the play should have been made ) or mental mistakes that we shouldn’t see regularly at the major league level. In my humble opinion the defensive miscues have been as big a contributing factor to the loss column as ant other factor.

So ... is this the true identity of the 2021 Phillies or can the tide turn 🤔 ... 112 games to tell. How are other teams succeeding where we’ve failed ? Let’s look at this weekend’s opponent the Tampa Rays ... I live in the Tampa area so am somewhat familiar with their efforts.

While the Rays are a low revenue generating organization as compared to others their investment and operations approach is consistent. They put their money into the company as opposed to long term contractual commitments to players. The baseball operations group is relatively robust and there are different titles found than in other organizations ... there are volumes of scouts in both the amateur and pro areas ... pro personnel specialists also exist that monitor and report on both internal and external options and while data analytics are widely used they aren’t the entire focus, they also have positions that are entitled as analysts that focus on baseball performance, scouting, development, etc. They have a heavy focus on internal compliance and structural development.

On the field the Rays approach is anything but small in nature. They strike out more than any team in baseball but that’s because they are aggressive hitters on pitches in the zone. The hitters look to drive the ball, they are in the top ten in hits, doubles, home runs and runs scored. That’s not to say they don’t accept free passes as they most certainly do ... top 10 in baseball there also. They are also generally very good defensively ... in top five in fielding percentage and least errors committed ... it’s rare you see mental miscues with this crew. Their pitchers throw strikes ( top 5 least walks ), produce punch outs ( top 5 again ) and are therefore also amongst the league leaders in WHIP.

The Rays are often accredited with strong player development and while that’s true their actual active roster has less of their own system players than the major league average. They are very active in trades and waiver acquisitions. Of course there’s also a lack of team player identity when turnover is so extreme ... maybe why a robust fan base hasn’t been established 🧐.

Finding success and then establishing consistency is the goal of any organization ... a wise baseball person once told me 50 games or so is a good telling point if you’re on track ... what you do in the next 100 or so determines whether ya play in October that season. What you do structurally determines if you’re in the hunt each season. Here’s hoping our club finds consistent winning ways ...

I’d attend this weekends games in Tampa but I spent my allotment going to the three game series in Dunedin ... no worries, there’s always the local TV feed 👍.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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