None of us expect the Philadelphia Phillies to contend for a playoff berth. None of us even really expect them to play close to .500 ball.
But 11 percent of the season is in the books and the Phillies are 9-10. Sure, the offense is woeful, the relief pitching scattershot and the baserunning worse than my son's T-ball squad. But on the back of very strong returns from a young rotation, the Phils are playing above their heads.
Will it last? Probably not.
But it might last longer than you expect.
The Phillies have had an impressive start despite playing .473 percent of their schedule against winning teams (Three against the Washington Nationals, six against the New York Mets.). They went 4-5 in those games.
The Phils meet up with the Nationals again, starting Tuesday.
After that, things get interesting.
There are six games each against the Miami Marlins (.353) and Atlanta Braves (.222), four games against the St. Louis Cardinals (.556) and three games each against the Cleveland Indians (.562), Cincinnati Reds (.474) and Detroit Tigers (.471).
In other words, the Phillies are going to spend their next 25 playing against teams that are a combined 60-63.
Look, I harbor no illusions that the Phillies are going to be anything more than a 75-win team. Not really close to .500. Nowhere close to contending.
But making it through the first 47 games on the schedule, 29 percent of the season, with something close to a .500 record means this team will have made a whole lot of progress.
This team reminds me an awful lot of the 1999 squad. It had three regulars - Marlon Anderson, Scott Rolen and Bobby Abreu - who were 25 or younger. But it was littered with Rob Duceys, Alex Ariases and Kevin Sefcik's.
However, the beginnings of the team that would post 85 or more wins in ten of the next 11 seasons were on that squad that also included Mike Lieberthal and Doug Glanville, not to mention Randy Wolf.
People forget, because the team finished 77-85, that that group was above .500 on Sept. 4. A double-digit losing streak did them in.
If the Phillies take advantage of their next 25 games, we're still not going to expect a .500 team. Not with Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez and David Lough getting so many at-bats.
But maybe we'll raise our expectations. Not quite High Hopes. But we're getting there.