The following are excerpts from two Jayson Stark articles on ESPN.com.
The Phillies keep pointing out they finished second in the league in runs scored last year, and that's true. But that total doesn't tell the whole story of their year.
Through the magic of baseball-reference.com, we were able to break down the number of times they scored three, two, one or zero runs last year. And it's very revealing:
Three runs or fewer: 75 times, most since 1997
Two runs or fewer: 51 times, most since 1998
One run or none: 34 times, most since 1991
Zero runs: 11 times, most since 1998
So sometimes, it's not how many you score. It's when you score them. Or, in the case of the 2010 Phillies, it was often when they DIDN'T score them.
This team scored just 772 runs last season -- a 48-run drop from 2009 (820) and a gigantic drop from 2007 (892). Now, that doesn't make these guys the Mariners. They still, after all, finished second in the league in runs scored. Nevertheless, that's the fewest runs by any Phillies team since 2002. And the 34 times they were held to one run or none were their most since 1991.
Despite playing in one of the most homer-friendly parks in baseball, the Phillies' home run total plummeted from 224 to 166 -- the fewest homers any Phillies team had hit since 2003, the final season of the late, not-so-great Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies slugged just .413 as a team, down from .447 in 2009 and down 45 points from a peak of .458 in 2007. In fact, it was the lowest slugging percentage by any Phillies juggernaut since the 97-loss team of 2000.
And when the postseason rolled around, the Phillies hit just .215 against the Giants and Reds, with a not-real-fearsome .311 slugging percentage and only four home runs in 289 at-bats.
With success comes a target on your back and the Phillies have been the model of success over the past few season. Therefore, teams are examining their model for success and breaking down each player's swing and planning points of attack for each at bat. Naturally with such advanced scouting and strategy, offensive numbers will dwindle with the extra attention being paid to the Phils lineup. However, this is only part of the offensive slumping. Age and injury are also major factors. The Phillies are one of the oldest teams in baseball, with every regular in the lineup being 30+ years old (with the exception of RF). Utley's best days are likely behind him and the same goes for Ibanez, Polanco, and Rollins. Howard and Victorino may have plateaued too, but I feel they'll bounce back. Overall this lineup has become pedestrian with the absence of Werth and will likely continue the nosedive this season. The Brewers, Rockies, Braves, Reds, and Cardinals are all equals if not better than the Phillies offense, and there are plenty of teams looming close behind. Luckily for Philadelphia they have assembled a remarkable starting rotation that should not need a lot of run support for the almighty win.
I am not being pessimistic, I'm being realistic. Have no fear though, because Manuel says- "We're gonna hit." So maybe they'll prove all the naysayers wrong and buck the downward trend and start an uptick this year. Because after all, the Phils are still the team to beat in the NL East this season.