It goes without saying, but there haven't been a lot of positive takeaways from this season. After all, it's hard to look positively on a season that ends without a playoff berth, especially after having been the division winners for five years running.
But here we are, on the eve of the end of the regular season and the first postseason since 2006 without the Philadelphia Phillies, and we can honestly say that the 2012 season wasn't a complete and utter disaster.
It sounds crazy, but it's true, because thanks to their win on Monday night, the Phillies have guaranteed that they won't finish the season with a sub-.500 record, and thus avoided becoming the first team of the Charlie Manuel era (and first since 2002) to finish with a losing record.
Now, finishing with a winning record isn't necessarily something to cheer about – I mean, unless you are the Pittsburgh Pirates – but considering the circumstances that surrounded this season, it can certainly be counted as a win for this team. And if you think about it, and I mean really think about it, what they did in the second half was nothing short of amazing.
Consider the following:
-Chase Utley missed the first two and a half months of the season.
-Ryan Howard, who would also miss the first two months of the season, finished the year with a .718 OPS.
-Roy Halladay had an ERA above 4.00.
-Cliff Lee was winless until July.
-Juan Pierre received a significant amount of playing time.
-Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino – two of the more important offensive pieces – were traded in July.
-Their early season setup man (Chad Qualls) was an unmitigated disaster.
-Vance Worley pitched with an elbow injury for the entire season.
-Placido Polanco was pretty much useless from the start.
-Jimmy Rollins led the team in home runs.
So, yeah, it's pretty amazing that the Phillies are where they are in light of those personnel issues, which led to a 9-19 June and a 10-13 July. Those months more or less buried them in the division, which prompted them to trade Victorino, Pence, and Joe Blanton at the deadline.
They were the walking wounded, they moved two-thirds of their outfield, and one of their Aces was busted up, but yet, they managed to pull themselves together and rattle off 17 wins in both August and September, which was enough to get them back into the playoff race, if only temporarily.
At the end of the day, a better than .500 record doesn't mean much of anything, and it's more of a moral victory than anything else. The team didn't perform as well as anyone would have hoped, and it's going to be strange to have an playoff-less baseball season, but ultimately, a better-than-.500 season is a nice silver lining on an otherwise dreary season.