What Philly Is Overreacting To: The Phillies' Offense

What Philly Is Overreacting To: The Phillies' Offense

At 26-16, the Philadelphia Phillies are leading the National League. They trail only the upstart Cleveland Indians for the best record in all of baseball. Still, the silence of their bats remains a glaring issue. The Phightins have scored just nine runs in their last five games, and needed both a gem from Cole Hamels and fiery close from Ryan Madson to win a 2-1 ballgame Tuesday evening. Indeed, the team has squandered many a good performance from its starting rotation as of late, making last night's victory all the more nerve-racking.

As a club, the Phils are sixteenth in the majors in batting average (.249), seventeenth in runs batted in (165), nineteenth in on-base percentage (.315), twentieth in total runs scored (170), and twenty-third in slugging (.371). All of those numbers, you will notice, are below the league median.

With all that in mind, fans and commentators have begun to discuss line-up changes and roster adjustments as if Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel have been left to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. But, are we getting ahead of ourselves? Discussion after the jump…

The date at the top of this post reads May 19th, meaning the Phils are just about a month and a half into their 2011 campaign. Traditionally, this group of players, under this manager, have proven a slow-starting ball club. This year, however, the team rushed out of the gates to assume its spot at the top of the standings.

Here's the point, Major League Baseball plays a 162-game season. There will always be multiple highs and lows throughout that season. Swoons will happen and are expected regardless of their timing.

Yes, the Phillies dropped four in a row prior to last night. But, believe it or not, the 2008 WFC's lost a staggering six in a row in June of that year, going 5-13 during an 18-game stretch.

Or, if you don't want to compare this team to those of years past, consider the following. In 42 games, the Phillies are 17-2 when scoring four runs or more. The team average for runs scored in the 2011 season is 4.04 per game.

Moreover, just look at this line-up. Does anyone expect this particular group of guys—no offense to Pete Orr, Michael Martinez or Dane Sardinha— to be posted up in the clubhouse in another month? How about another two weeks?

Asked on Tuesday's pre-game show about what his club needs to get going, Ruben Amaro refused to play the injury card, stating that teams need to fight through injuries (Charlie Manuel shared the same sentiment after last night's game) and that the Phillies shouldn't be making excuses. He did immediately make the comment, however, that his team will be exploring all its options leading up to the July 31st trade deadline, meaning the club has the potential to look radically different in another two months. With the prospect of a trade, or even multiple trades, and the return of injured veterans, such a premise seems inarguable.

That said, I'm not suggesting that the return of Chase Utley will suddenly make the Phillies one of the most feared lineups in the game. In fact, Amaro should be doing everything possible not to rush him back. As we have seen over the past two seasons, a physically-hampered Chase Utley, despite all his effort and guile, pales in comparison to his performance when healthy.

Think of it this way—it might be time to come to grips with the fact that the Phillies have lost some of their offensive mojo. Jimmy is getting older, Chase is always injured, and Ryan has no one to protect him, because Jayson bolted for Washington. Still, didn't we already know this well before opening day? None of these facts, sorry for the pun, came out of left field.

The idea from the very start was that this team's pitching would be good enough to make up for its offense. For the first month, the offense was electric. Recently, it hasn't been. But, you know what? In all likelihood, this, too, shall pass.

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

The Sixers on Monday acquired controlling stake in Team Dignitas and Team Apex, two eSport companies.

The companies will be combining under the Team Dignitas banner. The Sixers become the first North American sports franchise to acquire an eSports team and intend to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games," Sixers managing general partner Josh Harris said in a statement. "We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole.”

Team Dignitas and Team Apex have created games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.