Commentary

Philadelphia's defensive weakness

Phillies would have an even bigger pitching advantage if their fielding were better

Updated: September 18, 2011, 1:05 PM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Roy HalladayJeff Hanisch/US PresswireRoy Halladay's Cy Young case would be even stronger if he had a better defense behind him.

The Phillies have a good pitching staff. Few would argue that point. Not only is their staff ERA (3.00) the best in the majors, but it's also the lowest mark a team has posted since the 1989 Dodgers. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have had fantastic seasons for the National League's best team. The scary thing is that they're actually better than you think.

Halladay leads the Phillies' staff with 18 wins (against just five losses), 211 strikeouts and a 2.34 ERA. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has an edge in all three categories with 19 wins, 236 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA. If he holds his National League lead in all three categories, Kershaw's pitching triple crown would seem hard to vote against for the NL Cy Young Award. However, these numbers overlook the respective defenses behind each ace.

Many Philadelphians will cite the team's league-low 65 errors this season and conclude that the team has a strong defensive alignment. The team certainly is good at avoiding mistakes in the official scorer's judgment. However, there is much more to playing defense than simply avoiding mistakes -- and the truth is that the 2011 Phillies' defense rates among the worst in baseball.


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