After working towards a decision for 11 days following the end of the 2019 season, John Middleton and the Philadelphia Phillies finally made a decision on manager Gabe Kapler Thursday. Less than two years after he was hired, Kapler was let go. He managed the Phillies through two consecutive seasons of early season highs followed by late season lows, and finished with a disappointing 161-163 combined record as the Phillies’ playoff drought stretched to eight seasons.
Here are three numbers to remember from Kapler’s tenure in Philadelphia:
115 – Days Spent In First Place
Things certainly didn’t end well for the Phillies either year, but they played competitive baseball for parts of both seasons.
It was more of a surprise in 2018, when overachieving starting pitching carried the Phillies during the first few months of the season. They were in first place as late as August 12, and at some points it seemed as though they could end up winning a division that it seemed like no one wanted to win.
They didn’t end up making the playoffs, of course. But, for much of the season, they outperformed any and all expectations set out for them.
This season, the Phillies spent much of the first couple months of the season in first place. Their last day, however, was much earlier, as the Atlanta Braves overtook them on June 12 and never looked back. With a putrid second half, Kapler’s squad finished a full 18 games behind the Braves – a 21.5 game swing from May 29, when they were ahead by three-and-a-half games in the division.
20-36: Record In September Over Both Seasons
Yes, the Phillies contended for much of each season. But something common for both the 2018 and 2019 teams was a collapse down the stretch to seal their fate.
In 2018, this just seemed to be everything catching up to the team that had been overperforming during the first half of the season. The trio of Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez had outperformed their ability, and the team dropped 31 of the final 46 games of the season en route to a losing record, which seemed impossible considering they sat 15 games over .500 on August 7.
This season, the Phillies lost eight of there last nine games, including a five-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals during the last week of the season. They stayed in the thick of the National League Wild Card race during the first half of September, staying close to the Chicago Cubs, who were then in a playoff spot. But they faded quickly as the season came to an end, and finished with a disappointing 81-81 record, a full eight games out of the seconnd Wild Card spot.
Friday, Middleton cited the Phillies September struggles as a key part in his decision to ultimately dismiss Kapler. Both years, the team may have overperformed in the first part of the season, but that doesn’t change the embarrassing collapses preventing the team from even finishing over .500 in either season.
75 – Players To Appear In A Game For Kapler
No, that is not a typo. 75 different players appeared in at least one game for the Phillies over the last two years.
Kapler was fired as a result of two disappointing seasons–someone had to take the fall.
But despite some key additions to the team during this past offseason, the roster was constantly changing, and it lacked the depth necessary for a team to compete with the playoff level teams in the National League.
Kapler made his share of mistakes. But, it’s difficult to evaluate his impact as manager with a clearly flawed roster.
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