The Phillies are good. Holy hell, the Phillies are good.
After completing a three-game sweet of the first-place Washington Nationals, on the road, the Phillies return home Friday with a 12-10 record. Pedestrian by any measure, sure, the .545 winning percentage is really significant for the Phillies.
The team entered the three-game set with the Nationals at 9-10 after falling in the final game of a road series at Milwaukee. At 9-9, the Phillies were .500 for just the second time this season, a mark the franchise hadn’t achieved since the sixth game of the season…in 2015. On April 11, 2015 the Phillies defeated the Nationals to start the season with a 3-2 record, but that next-day loss had the Fightins back to .500 for the year. A day later the Phillies went to New York to face the Mets and got swept. They then lost three of four in Washington, fell to 4-9, and the season was basically over. After that, the closest the Phillies got back to .500 last year was 8-12, finishing the season 63-99.
This year, expectations were low and, frankly, still are. But the Phillies winning the first game in Washington to get to 10-10 was significant. When they won the second game, advancing to 11-0, it was the first time the team was better than .500 since that win over Washington in early April of last year.
But to get two games over .500, we have to go back to 2012.
The Phillies ended the 2012 season at 81-81, the last non-losing season for the franchise. The team was actually 81-79 with two to play that year, but dropped the final two games of the season to, yep, the Nationals, helping secure the NL East for their southbound-95 rivals.
It’s been 509 games since the Phillies were last two games over .500. That’s a long time. And yet, it’s even longer since the Phillies had a .545 winning percentage.
Again, they’re just 12-10, so the small sample size of playing just 22 games this season helps their winning percentage immensely. Should the Phillies lose on Friday, for example, their percentage will drop to .522, but should they win, it will go up to .565. By season’s end, one win is just over half a percent difference, but now, a victory accounts for a significant shift.
Small sample size notwithstanding, a .545 winning percentage is huge! When’s the last time that’s happened?
Sept. 28, 2011. The Phillies ended the regular season that year with a sweep of the Braves, pushing their league-best record to 102-60. For those keeping track, yes, that’s better than a .545 winning percentage. It’s actually .629, which was really, really good before it meant a whole bunch of nothing when the Phillies lost in five games in the first round of the playoffs that year.
Alas, it has been quite a while since the Phillies had a winning percentage this high. They were three games over .500 on June 1, 2012 (28-25 and a .528 winning percentage) after a win over the Marlins, but six-straight losses after that game—and nine losses in 10 games—put an end to that run, and help set the Phillies on a path of poor play for the last three full seasons.
If the Phillies beat the Indians on Friday, they’ll be three-games over .500 for the first time since then. If they keep winning—well, let’s go one game at a time.