If a week ago you had told me the Phillies could win the World Series, I wouldn’t have blamed you. 107 games is more than enough of a sample size to draw significant conclusions—and what we’ve seen thus far is a baseball team that clearly belongs atop the National League, where they currently hold the 3rd best record (8th best in baseball).
On the other hand, if a week ago you had told me that any World Series talk was premature, I wouldn’t have blamed you either. For a team in the thick of it, the Phillies were noticeably light on hitting, and power in particular. The lack of juice at the plate has been an issue at times this season, and it would have reared its ugly head in October.
However, over the past week Matt Klentak has addressed those concerns with the additions of Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilson Ramos. Any “non-believers” still hanging around should find their way over to the bandwagon—the Phillies are legitimate World Series contenders.
I’m not sure that the value Cabrera and Ramos will add to the lineup is being fully realized by the media and fans.
Prior to those trades, here was the list of Phillies bats ranked by .OPS (on-base % plus slugging %).
Rhys Hoskins .886
Odubel Herrera .807
Maikel Franco .801
Nick Williams .781
Carlos Santana .752
Cesar Hernandez .741
Jorge Alfaro .710
Scott Kingery .599
The Phillies only had three players with an .OPS over .800.
For comparisons sake, the Cubs have six such players with an OPS above .800, the Braves have five, the Dodgers have five (all above .845), and the Brewers have four—two of which have an OPS above .900. All four of those teams are competing for the pennant with the Phillies and all four have a higher team OPS than the Phillies.
This current ball club may have a dominant starting pitching staff and formidable bullpen, but, come October, I’m not sure that it would have been enough to compensate for the clear drop off in production at the plate.
Insert Cabrera and Ramos and this is what that updated list looks like:
Wilson Ramos .834 <—
Asdrúbal Cabrera .817 <—
Make no mistake about it, both Cabrera and Ramos will be top five bats in our lineup. These aren’t just supplemental additions that help our bottom line, they are substantial moves that should vastly improve our ability to produce runs on a consistent basis.
To underscore the magnitude of these trades, consider this: the players that they’ll be replacing, Alfaro and Kingery, have produced a combined total of 12 HRs and 53 RBIs. Both Cabrera and Ramos have surpassed those totals individually (Cabrera: 18 HRs & 58 RBIs / Ramos: 14 HRs & 53 RBIs); good for a combined 32 HRs and 111 RBIs.
On top of that, both Cabrera and Ramos are defensive upgrades over their counterparts.
Were the Phillies serious World Series contenders before these trades? Maybe. They certainly had the pitching to compete at that level. But after adding two bats who will slot in as top-5 position players on this team, we need to acknowledge that Klentak and company just addressed the one area that many thought would hold this team back come October.
In a vacuum, a team that sits atop the NL East with a record of 59-48 should already be considered a World Series contender. Then when you add two players of the caliber of Ramos and Cabrera to that 59-win team, it’s actually ridiculous to suggest that they can’t compete for a World Series this season.