If the playoffs positions for major league baseball were soley based on the last 30 games, the Phillies would be tied for the second Wild Card spot.
Obviously that is an absurd notion, and there is a reason why teams play 162 games each season. And the Phillies still have the second-worst record in all of baseball. But watching them on the field over the last few months one would never know. After a bevy of hiccups and letdowns, the rebuilding Phillies are finally offering fans hope and something to cheer for.
Here are five things you might not know about the Phillies this season but should be award of:
1. Rhys Hoskins is a revelation
The Phillies slugging outfielder and first baseman has made headlines everywhere and you probably know the numbers. As of Wednesday the rookie was within three homers of leading the entire Phillies roster despite having played only 39 games. He has 18 dingers and 43 RBI as well as a solid .299 batting average — hitting clean up each night in Citizens Bank Park. His on base percentage and slugging percentage are more than .200 points better than any other Phillie.
2. The other prospects are good too
Formerly the club’s top minor league prospects, a trio of other rookie position players are looking firmly entrenched in the big league’s future plans after various summer call ups. Catcher Jorge Alfaro has become the No. 1 player at that position and is hitting .295, while outfielder Nick Williams is batting .288 and has 10 homers through 72 games. The team’s top prospect J.P. Crawford has shown signs of brilliance in the bigs as well, hitting .261 through two weeks of appearances.
3. Picking up pitching
The Phillies bullpen has been the second best in the majors since mid August and hurler Aaron Nola is looking to be a true ace. Nola earned his 12th win earlier in the week and has a respectable 3.66 ERA. He’s 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA over his last three starts.
4. They beat Clayton Kershaw
Just when we thought we had seen the Phillies best win of the year — a wild 15-inning walk-off win against the Marlins last week — they step things up again. Thanks to a key two-out Hoskins walk to load the bases in a Monday night showdown with the powerhouse Dodgers, Aaron Altherr blasted a grand slam 418 feet to left centerfield to knock Clayton Kershaw out of the game en route to a 4-3 win.
5. They’re actually getting better
The Phillies are 16-14 over the last 30 games and are actually just three games below .500 in the season’s second half. They have a 34-39 record at home despite their 60-91 overall record and are three wins away from avoiding the all-embarrassing 100-loss threshhold.