Why Phillies aren't a contender

Philadelphia has near-.500 record, but signs show the winning won't last

Originally Published: June 10, 2013
By Paul Swydan | ESPN Insider

Cliff LeeGreg Fiume/Getty ImagesCliff Lee is one of the few Phillies who has been legitimately excellent this year.

The Phillies started the season ranked 14th in the ESPN Power Rankings, but a slow start knocked them down a few pegs. This week, on the strength of a season-best five-game winning streak, they are basically back where they started, and are No. 15 on the list. Despite their little run though, the Phillies should not be mistaken for a good team.

Their main strength has been the starting rotation, but it has not been mighty enough to make the team a contender. In 2011, the Phillies had an incredible starting rotation -- its 24.4 WAR as a unit was ahead of the next-best team by more than 4 WAR. Last season, it was pretty good as well, finishing fourth as a unit with 16.0 WAR. This season, however, they've dropped off to 12th.