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Raising Questions: Best offense in team history?

Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley (26) and Ryan Howard celebrate Utley's first home run against the Florida Marlins during a baseball game in Miami, Friday, July 17, 2009. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)From 1893 through 1895, the Philadelphia Phillies, led by Ed Delahanty, managed to score over 1,000 runs in each season.  For obvious reasons, the dead-ball era teams, and those before, are excluded from this discussion. But man, that’s a lot of runs.

The Charlie Manuel-led Phillies of this decade have been some of the most prolific offenses in all of baseball.  Considering the National League plays sans a DH, they’ve faired quite well.  Particularly in 2007, when the Phils scored 892 runs en route to their first playoff appearance in 14 years.  In 1993, that bunch of throwbacks put up 877.  In their 101-win season of 1977, the Phils posted 847.  Not included: last year’s World Series winning team that scored a meager 799 runs.

Is this year’s team already the best offensive crew in team history?  Through 89 games, the Phils have scored 475 runs.  That averages out to over 5.56 runs per ball game.  This 2009 club is on pace to nearly catch the ’07 gang, and could pass the ’93, and ’77 teams in terms of run production. If they stay at the current rate of runs per game average, they will top out at 861.

The present-day squad has three everyday players hitting .300 or above and has four players with 20 home runs or more.  In ’07, five players posted 20 or more over the full year.  In the same season, three players hit .290 or better.

Nineteen ninety-three was a completely different crew.  They scored runs with clutch hitting, not the long ball.  Just 156 bombs were hit by the ’93 NL Champs, though four players hit .305 or above.  It was about placing the ball, not killing it, which is something that doesn’t really resonate with today’s team at all times.

In 1977, the Phils were so well balanced, only one guy hit the 100 run plateau. Michael Jack and the Bull led the team with 38 and 39 homers, respectively, but that team was about balance.

Fast-forward to now and take a peek at what the Phils are missing. Yes, they are getting career years from Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez, plus Pedro Feliz has figured out how to hit a baseball again.  On the flip side, the offense could be so much more. Jimmy Rollins finally broke .230 this weekend for the first time since mid-June. Carlos Ruiz has struggled since his decent start.  Twelve times the offense has managed one run or less through the first 89 games. In 2007, that team scored one run or less 11 times all season.

This is the time of year that the offense normally hits their stride. As the weather gets steamy, the balls at the bank begin to fly to all fields with regularity. Could we be seeing the most storied offense in franchise history?  Something to think about.

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