Phillies Analysis

Why the Phillies can't — and won't — get ahead of themselves despite start as MLB's best team

'We’ve got to stay humble and keep going,' Rob Thomson said of the Phillies' red hot start

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Kyle Schwarber and Rob Thomson spoke after the Phillies’ loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon which snapped their seven-game win streak.

And, on the forty-third day of the longest season, the Phillies rested.

It has likely come to your attention that, while in repose waiting to begin their weekend series against the Marlins at loanDepot Park, your Fightins’ woke Thursday in possession of the best record (26-12) in all of Major League Baseball.

To put a slightly finer point on it, they’ve clearly accomplished their stated spring training goal of getting off to a fast start.

Which made a comment from Rob Thomson after Saturday night’s two touchdowns-to-a-field goal win over the Giants interesting. It wasn’t in response to a specific question. It was an offhand remark, almost as if he was thinking out loud.

“We’ve got to stay humble and keep going,” the manager said.

With that in mind, before the Phillies closed out a hugely successful homestand with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays that ended their winning streak at seven Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, Thomson was asked if his antennae are up for signs of overconfidence.

"Absolutely,” he said. “This game will humble you in a hurry if you think you’re better than what you really are. We’ve got a good club. But we just need to keep grinding, keep playing, keep being ourselves.”

In that spirit, here are some helpful reminders that the 2024 season is just now starting to get warmed up. That more than three-quarters of the schedule remains. That having the best record in baseball on May 9, along with 11 bucks, will get you a roast pork sandwich at Di Nic’s in the Reading Terminal Market.

Not to be a buzz kill. Just numbers that underscore Thomson’s pragmatism.

On this date in baseball history, for the last four full seasons, here are the teams that were No. 1 in the overall standings – and where they finished – followed by the eventual World Series winner and its overall position at the same time.

Spoiler alert. All made the postseason. None advanced to the World Series, much less won it.

 May 9, 2019 -- Minnesota Twins, 23-12 (.657)

  • Rest of the way: 78-49 (.614)
  • Finished first in AL Central, lost in division series
  • Hoisted the trophy: Nationals, on May 9: 15-22 (.405), 26th (tie)

May 9, 2021 – Boston Red Sox, 22-13 (.629)

  • Rest of the way: 71-57 (.555)
  • Finished second in AL East; lost in LCS
  • Hoisted the trophy: Braves, on May 9: 14-16 (.467), 17th

May 9, 2022 – Los Angeles Dodgers, 19-7 (.731)

  • Rest of the way: 92-44 (.676)
  • Finished 1st in NL West, lost in division series
  • Hoisted the trophy: Astros, on May 9: 18-11 (.621), 7th (tie)

May 9, 2023 – Tampa Bay Rays, 29-7 (.806)

  • Rest of the way: 70-56 (.556)
  • Finished 2nd in AL East, lost in wild card round
  • Hoisted the trophy: Rangers, on May 9: 21-13 (.618), 4th

The last time a team with the best record at this juncture went on to win it all was 2018 when the Yankees and Red Sox were tied at 25-10 (.714). There’s no reason why the Phillies can’t follow in those footsteps. This is just to say that they haven’t clinched a dang thing yet. Including dethroning the Braves at the top of the NL East.

They have a 2-game lead over the team that has won the division six straight seasons. They’ve also had a remarkably favorable early schedule. Since opening the season with a head-to-head series against the Braves, the Phillies haven’t played a team that’s currently above .500. Other than Atlanta, they haven’t faced a single team with one of the Top 10 records in baseball.

In addition to the Phillies, Atlanta has played the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mariners and Rangers – all winning teams. That imbalance will even out over the next four-and-a-half months.

Injuries can dramatically alter the MLB landscape between now and the end of September. So can the trades teams make – and don’t make – before the deadline.

One final date point: The Phillies are 15-6 at Citizens Bank Park where their home winning streak ended at 11 on Wednesday. The back half of the schedule is backloaded with road games when 44 of 78 (56.4 percent) of the dates are denoted by white squares on your handy pocket schedules.

Again, the Phillies have put themselves in a terrific position. But Thomson has been around long enough to know that there are no guarantees in May. He understands there can be a hobgoblin around almost any corner, even against a Marlins team with the third-worst record in baseball.

“Now we go into Miami. There probably won’t be many people at the ballpark. So you’ve got to create your own energy internally,” he said. “And we have a good group of people who can do that. They tend to bring it every day. So that’s really the only thing for me.

“What happened the last two years at the end (losing to Houston in the ’22 World Series, losing to Arizona in the ’23 NLCS) is really motivating for this group. I think the entire room is competitive and they feed off each other that way. These guys come to play every day. They are tough. And they have fun at the same time. So it’s a special group. It really is.”

Exactly how special, though, won’t be determined until October.

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