Richard Justice, columnist at the Houston Chronicle and syndicated by Sporting News, writes the Phillies have a good chance at repeating as National League champions (comparing their situation to the Rays). He writes:
Sometimes teams win championships when a core group of players have career years. … That didn’t happen in Philadelphia. Ryan Howard’s batting average was 28 points below his career average. His home runs and RBIs are pretty close the last three seasons. … Jimmy Rollins hit .277 last season. His career batting average is .277. Chase Utley hit 10 more home runs in 2008 than he had in 2007, but his RBI total barely changed and his batting averaged dropped 40 points. … In other words, the Phillies will begin 2009 fairly confident what they’re going to get from their big three.
He also cites the Phils weren’t incredibly lucky, and while the Rays play in the stacked American League East, the Phils can definitely beat the Mets and Braves in the NL East.