SweetSpot: Cole Hammels

Why the Phillies can win it all

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
6:56
PM ET
1. Starting pitching: The Phillies' front three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels have a combined strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.4. That's right, for every one walk these guys allow, they strike out at least five batters. In the postseason, when the margin of error is very small, limiting baserunners (walks) and base advancement (strikeouts) is key.

2. Baserunning efficiency: Davey Lopes may be gone, but they have retained his infinite wisdom. The Phillies' three biggest baserunning threats -- Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Chase Utley -- are a combined 61-for-72 stealing bases. That's a success rate of 85 percent. If any of the three manage to reach base, they can wreak havoc if needed.

3. Ryan Madson: A soon-to-be free agent, Madson may have been one of the best-kept secrets in baseball. The right-hander has quietly been among the most dominant relievers dating back to 2007. In fact, among relievers with at least 300 innings pitched since 2007, Madson has the ninth-best xFIP at 3.35. Phillies starters don't have to worry about going the distance because Madson will be waiting to shut 'em down in the ninth.

4. Carlos Ruiz: No cool statistical factoids here. The simple fact is that, while Carlos Ruiz isn't a huge offensive threat, he commands the respect of an elite starting rotation. The trio of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels could have their way with just about any catcher in baseball, but they all defer to Ruiz when it comes to game-calling. It is something Ruiz has honed and mastered over the years -- surprising since he was originally signed by the Phillies as a second baseman.

5. Hunter Pence: The popular narrative that attempts to explain the Phillies' success since acquiring Pence -- providing protection in the lineup for Ryan Howard -- may be bunk, but there is no denying that the right fielder has made the Phillies a better team since donning red pinstripes in late July. Pence finished with a 136 OPS+, a career high, but even better is that his OPS+ is a staggering 153 with the Phillies.

Bill Baer runs the Crashburn Alley blog on the Phillies.

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