The odds of the Phillies winning the World Series next year or even achieving a winning record are not favorable. But there is always hope, and for that we need to look no further than the worst-to-first 1993 Phillies.
The 1992 Phillies finished in last place in the NL East with a 72-90 record. They ranked second in the National League with 686 runs, but their pitching finished dead last with a 4.13 ERA and far worse than the next to last team (Astros) with a 3.74 ERA.
As we all know, their fortunes completely changed the following season. The 1993 Phillies won the NL Pennant with a 97-65 record. They ranked first in runs with 877 and their much improved pitching ranked 7th with a 3.97 ERA.
How the Phillies were able to rebound is an interesting case because their top 5 starters' ERA actually increased from 3.60 to 3.86 and their bullpen ERA improved only slightly from 4.20 to 4.00.
So how did they improve from 12th to 7th in pitching? The answer is starts and innings. The 1992 Phillies had 103 starts and 755 innings from their top five starters, but the top five in 1993 started 152 games and pitched 999.2 innings, an increase of 49 starts and 244.2 innings.
More starts and innings from their top starters means less starts from Tyler Cloyd types and less innings from the bullpen.
Here's a look at the turnaround in 1993.
'92 & '93 Phillies Starters ERA
|'92 ERA||'93 ERA|
|Terry Mulholland||3.81||Terry Mulholland||3.25|
|Curt Schilling||2.35||Curt Schilling||4.02|
|Tommy Greene||5.32||Tommy Greene||3.42|
|Ben Rivera||2.82||Ben Rivera||5.02|
|Kyle Abbott||5.13||Danny Jackson||3.77|
'92 & '93 Phillies Games Started
|'92 GS||'93 GS|
|Terry Mulholland||32||Terry Mulholland||28|
|Curt Schilling||26||Curt Schilling||34|
|Tommy Greene||12||Tommy Greene||30|
|Ben Rivera||14||Ben Rivera||28|
|Kyle Abbott||19||Danny Jackson||32|
'92 & '93 Phillies Starters Innings
|'92 IP||'93 IP|
|Terry Mulholland||229||Terry Mulholland||191|
|Curt Schilling||226.1||Curt Schilling||235.1|
|Tommy Greene||64.1||Tommy Greene||200|
|Ben Rivera||102||Ben Rivera||163|
|Kyle Abbott||133.1||Danny Jackson||210.1|
Don't expect the same miracle in 2014.
The '93 Phillies inherited the worst pitching staff in the league, but at least they had an area of strength with the second best offense. On the flip side, the 2013 Phillies were near the bottom in both categories.
The 2013 Phillies finished one game ahead of the 1992 Phillies with a 73-89 record. Their hitting ranked 13th in the league with 610 runs scored and their pitching ranked 14th with a 4.32 ERA.
A better comparison to the 1993 Phillies is the 2007 Phils, who ranked first in runs scored and 11th in pitching the year before. It shows that it is easier to improve when the main focus is limited to one portion of the team.
Sucks to be Ruben, because he has to mend essentially all areas of his ball club. But that is not to say that it can't be done. Lee Thomas improved the 1993 Phillies by adding under the radar guys like Milt Thompson, Pete Incaviglia, Jim Eisenreich, and Danny Jackson who became major contributors.
If Ruben can find exact replicas of those players, the Phillies have a very good chance of competing. Of course, Amaro's track record of Delmon Young, Laynce Nix, Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, and Chad Durbin doesn't offer much reason for hope.
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