Phillies phranchise phutility

With the Phillies stinking pretty bad in 2012, many folks are wondering if their recent run of success is over or if this year is just a blip. (With their team getting old and 3 playes signed to huge over-market deals, I tend to think it’s not a blip.)

I’m here to tell you that in the big picture, it doesn’t matter anyway.

Check out how many games over .500 the Phillies team has finished each year in its history:

Phillies’ number of games above .500 each year. Click on the image for a larger version.

As you can see, this team has been bad more often than good and went through an abysmal stretch from 1918 through 1948 where they were under .500 (usually WAY under .500) every year except one.

The Phillies’ success over the last decade is clearly their best run ever, edging out the one from the mid 1970s through the early 1980s.

But if we look at cumulative number of games under .500, it ain’t pretty:

Phillies’ cumulative games over .500 in franchise history. Click for a larger version.

Oh…it’s bad. Once the losing started in 1918, they took a massive plunge. The “good” news is that once they reached that first trough in 1948, they’ve lost only a cumulative 200 further games since then, and actually gained most of that back in the 10 years before 2012.

Realize, though, that at more than a thousand games under .500, the team would have to go 101-61 for each of the next 25 years just to break even. Wow.


Phillies phranchise phutility — 14 Comments

  1. Look at the time period from 1988 to 2001 in the first picture.

    It fittingly looks as if the 1993 squad is giving us the finger (in bar chart form). :)

      • If I recall correctly, in terms of win percentage, the Phillies as a franchise are better than three others: Mariners, Padres and Bay Rays. Of course, those are all comparatively young franchises and the Rays, at least, could easily surpass the Phils percentage with a few more winning years. With all the games that they have played, the Phils percentage (it is something like 47.29%) isn’t likely to change much over the next, oh, half century.

        The ‘Stros franchise win percentage is about 49.4% so their chart should be more balanced.

  2. “Once they losing started in 1918, they took a massive plunge.”

    Can we call it the curse of Pete Alexander?

  3. Having been a lifelong Phillies fan (starting in the mid-1960s), this brings to mind two points:

    1. I understand that winning teams tend to draw detractors–which is why all right-thinking people hate the Yankees. But I have been surprised the past few years to see so much Phillies Hatred. Really, begrudging the Phils a few winning seasons is pretty much the equivalent of kicking a puppy.

    2. Hands down the funniest thing I have heard this past week came from an interview of one of the minor league prospects that the Phils got in their recent trades. He was commenting on how excited he was to join the Phillies franchise because “they have a great tradition of winning!” I almost hurt myself I was laughing so hard!

    I tend to agree that the Phils are heading into another few fallow years until we can get some more young players coming up. But I have gone through this before. As a Philly sportswriter wrote in the early 1970s: when you are a Phillies fan, you live with a sense of impending doom.

    • There is little rational thought when it comes to fans and their dislike of other teams and their dislike of fans of those teams. I actally think it’s the latter that really is key. In other words, fans really don’t dislike the teams, they dislike the fans of those teams. And nothing drives fans of losing teams more crazy than fans of winning teams who think they are now entitled to win. Right or wrong, many Philly fans seemed to project the cockiness of many Yankee fans minus the previous century of success. Red Sox, too. So both those teams lost whatever goodwill they had pretty quickly.

    • Good stuff, Christopher. But doesn’t your 2nd point answer your 1st? The casual fan — perhaps even the casual Phillies fan (and most fans are casual fans) — is unaware that the Phils have by far the worst record (most losses & worst W%) of any pre-expansion team. And the average pro ballplayer knows even less baseball history than the fans do.

  4. Here’s your useless stat of the day: Before the beginning of this season, the Phillies were 1,697.5 games out of first place if you count all regular season games dating back to 1876.

  5. Grew up a Phillies fan. One of my earliest memories (at five years of age)is watching Tugger strike out Willie Wilson, on a small, snowy, TV set. By ’83 I was old enough to actually follow the ‘Wheeze Kids’ (and, how DID they win that year…..John Denny?!?!) as they went to the Series. They lost, but I knew that despite their age, the good times would last forever! The Phils were stocked with up-and coming superstars…..Charles Hudson…..Jeff Stone…..Rick Schu……Chris James…..Steve Jeltz….John Russell….

    Mike Maddux….Don Carman…..Kyle Abbott….

    honestly, those are only the names that I remember. No fair to list the others, some of whom I recalled(and a couple, still not), after having just spent awhile looking through years of rosters. Many good laughs!!

    Certainly I get a few more good laughs, every time that I see another Phillies hat…let alone a ‘retro’ (80’s) hat. I’ve even seen a couple of retro (blue)road uniforms. (I haven’t been back to the East Coast in about a decade).

    The 1993 Phils will always and forever be my favorite team! What a crazy crazy year….
    and, it ended in TRUE Philadelphia fashion :(

  6. Andy, the Astros would indeed plot an interesting bar graph. It was not that long ago, maybe as late as 2006 when they attained their high water mark of 7 games over .500. Now, it is extraordinarily unlikely that anyone old enough to see the first game of the franchise history (such as I) will live long enough to ever see them reach a franchise .500 mark again. Heck, guys my age may never live to see them have another .500 SEASON.

  7. I’d love to see one for the royals, who go from being the toasts of the town in the 70s to good but not great in the late 80s to early 90s to astonishingly bad since 1996, with the exception of a fluke 2003.

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