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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Dear Phillies fans: My bad!

By David Schoenfield

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have crushed the NL all season and are on their way to 100-plus victories.
Back on March 31, I wrote a fateful post entitled, "Why the Phillies won't make the playoffs."

And, yes, a certain group of fans have not let me forget about it. Nick Pietruszkiewicz, one of the baseball editors here, warned me; he gave me a chance to change my stance. I was stubborn. I should have listened.

So I'm here to apologize, to face the Phillies' faithful, to admit I was wrong and that I hope the ESPN cafeteria has crow on the menu today. Because I need a big, fat serving of it.

In my original post, I explained why I had the Phillies winning 90 games, losing the NL East to the Braves and the wild-card race to the Rockies and Giants. Where did I go wrong? (Besides thinking the Rockies were a good team?) The Phillies are on pace to win 105 games, which to be fair not only exceeded my expectations but those of nearly everyone outside the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. The Vegas over/under line on the Phillies was 96.5 wins. At the start of the season, I asked the SweetSpot bloggers to predict if the Phillies would achieve the over or under on 96.5 wins; all 10 predicted the under. Baseball Prospectus projected the Phillies to win 91 games.

Still, I was off by 15 wins, although I did also write this: "Now, look ... there is a more optimistic view here: (Ryan) Howard could be better, (Jimmy) Rollins could turn back the clock and hit better, even (Roy) Halladay could be more dominating. (Joe) Blanton could be inspired by rotation-mania and have a career year. Maybe the bullpen will be fine. (Chase) Utley returns sooner than expected and plays great. It could be a 105-win team, maybe a 110-win team in a dream scenario."

So why will they win 100-plus games instead of 90? Here's what happened:
The Phillies, meanwhile, have had a few dents and dings -- but that stuff should be expected from a lineup full of 30-somethings. For the most part, most of the players performed as expected -- Ryan Howard continued his decline, Raul Ibanez was worse, Carlos Ruiz couldn't match his superb 2010, Jimmy Rollins was better than 2010. Blanton was the only major injury, and the guy who stepped in was unbelievable. Roy Oswalt is really the only guy who wasn't as good as projected.

In the end, any team will have a wide range for a likely finish. I took the low end, and was wrong. Congrats to the Phillies for a terrific, fun, dominant season. They'll enter the playoffs as the World Series favorite and will try to break an odd trend: the team with the best record in the National League hasn't won a World Series since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. And the National League team with the best overall record in the majors hasn't won the World Series since the 1986 New York Mets.