The epic comeback on Wednesday night gave the Phillies more than just their best 10-game road trip in franchise history.
It put an exclamation point on a six-week run that has all but eliminated the biggest remaining fear about the team's ability to win a World Series. The Phillies rallied back thanks to their offense, a major bugaboo in the early parts of the season that has turned into the best the National League has to offer.
No team in the NL has scored more runs than the Phillies since the start of July, a major turnaround that has gone relatively unnoticed as the Phillies continue to pitch their way up the list of the best starting rotations in the history of the game. The offense has been good this month, but the main driver was a July surge that lifted the team out of the doldrums.
They led the NL in OPS, weighted on-base percentage, weighted runs created and weighted runs above average. Put more simply, they were better than every other team in the circuit in just about everything you want to see from an offense. Considering where they came from, that's pretty remarkable.
Even more remarkable is that there isn't one clear thing to point to as an explanation for the sudden change in fortunes. Chase Utley used June to round into form after his injury, but his numbers aren't considerably better since July began. Hunter Pence has jolted the team, but he's only been around a short while. Jimmy Rollins is a bit better, Ryan Howard a little worse and Raul Ibanez pretty much the same as they were in the early part of the season.
The only player who has shown marked improvement is Shane Victorino, who was good early but has been blazing hot of late. It makes sense that the whole offense would see a boost from a player at the top of the order hitting well, although it is hard to attribute all of the changes to one man.
Two numbers jump off the page when trying to come up with a grand unifying theory of the increased production. The first is isolated power, where the Phillies have jumped from the middle of the pack to the top of the heap. That means their hits are doing more damage than they did in the early part of the season which dovetails nicely with their increase in batting average on balls in play. It shot up in July, which usually means the team's been a little luckier on their batted balls and, obviously, leads to more hits.
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More hits plus more power are things that lead to a lot more runs. The Phillies have been lucky and they've been good recently, a pretty nice combination for an offense that wasn't much of either when the year got underway.