- Matt Meyers
Baseball people say it all the time: "You gotta be strong up the middle." And even if you're inclined to be skeptical of this cliché, the 2008 Phillies helped validate it.
Powered by the combo of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, and with some help from centerfielder Shane Victorino and catcher Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies had one of the best up-the-middle quartets in baseball last year. Based on WARP, Baseball Prospectus's metric for measuring a player's total value (including defense), those four were a combined 25.7 wins above replacement, which was the third-best Up-The-Middle WARP in all of baseball.
The Phillies and Rays are the latest examples of how a strong C, SS, 2B and CF can pave the way to success.