Phillies troubles start at the top of the order

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Freddy Galvis led off with a double, then proceeded to steal third base. Moments later, Odubel Herrera singled to score Galvis.

That is textbook on how to succeed as a lead off hitter. Unfortunately for the Phillies, that’s been a very rare sight.

The Phillies’ weekend series with the Washington Nationals epitomized everything that is wrong with the team’s production out of the leadoff spot.

In each of the three games, the Phillies had three different players bat first — Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Emmanuel Burriss. The combination wound up going 1-for-13 with no runs, no walks and just one RBI. That lone RBI would be Galvis’ walk-off hit on Sunday. Go figure.

Manager Pete Mackanin is well aware of the issues that his team faces from that spot in the order.

“I feel like I don’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter right now,” Mackanin said last week.

That much is evident. Between Monday’s game with San Diego through Sunday’s win, the Phillies are a dismal 2-for-29 out of the leadoff spot. Even worse, there hasn’t been a single walk all season out of that spot. Counting Monday’s game, the lead off hitter in the lineup is 3-for-33 since the start of the Padres’ series.

Last year, only the No. 3 batting position (.276) had a higher average than the No. 1 spot (.269) among all 30 MLB teams.

Through 14 games entering Tuesday’s game with the New York Mets, the Phillies leadoff position has an average below .140 with just eight hits and two runs.

When a team is consistently not getting its first batter on base, a player that is generally regarded as one of the roster’s top baserunners, it makes life much more difficult for the two-through-nine hitters. That would explain why the Phillies lineup had produced a National League-low of 36 runs and an MLB-worst average throughTuesday afternoon.

When Galvis or Hernandez or Burris aren’t starting things off with a hit or even a walk, opposing pitchers can really hone in on the Phillies heart of the order without the pressure of having a baserunner to bat. Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard won’t do any damage if there aren’t runners in scoring position.

That’s been the story all season.

Somehow, though, the Phillies find themselves hovering around the.500 mark despite their offensive ineptitude. Until things change at the top of the order, the offense will continue to sputter. When it does, though, this Phillies team will start to win some of these close games.

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