HomeSportsPhillies improve record to 36-14, MLB's best 50-game start since 2001 Mariners

Phillies improve record to 36-14, MLB’s best 50-game start since 2001 Mariners

The Philadelphia Phillies are winning at a pace not seen in 23 years.

The team defeated the Texas Rangers 11-4 on Wednesday to improve their record to 36-14, which is not only the best record in the MLB. It’s the best 50-game record the league has seen since the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who went on to win an MLB-record 116 games.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson was quick to note via MLB.com what that actually meant for the team’s goal of winning the World Series:

“What did they end up doing?” manager Rob Thomson said of the 116-win Mariners club losing in the ALCS. “You have to keep going. You just have to keep grinding and pushing all the way through.

Per MLB, only 26 teams have won at least 36 of their first 50 games in the modern era (since 1900). Of those 26, only 11 have won the World Series and only two – the 1984 Detroit Tigers and the 1998 New York Yankees – have done so in the division era (since 1969). A multi-round play-off remains a nonsense even for elite teams.

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It’s not hard to see where the Phillies’ success comes from. They’re doing well, with Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Trea Turner and Bryson Stott all posting an OPS+ of at least 135 (i.e. 35% better than the league average, adjusted for park). Kyle Schwarber, JT Realmuto and Brandon Marsh are all performing well above average as well.

The rotation was one of the strongest in the MLB, with Ranger Suarez rivaling Chicago Cubs sensation Shota Imanaga for the best numbers in the league. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are not far behind him. The one area where they are falling behind is the bullpen, which ranks 21st in the MLB with a 4.25 ERA.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 22: JT Realmuto #10 and Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies react after a solo home run by Realmuto during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Citizens Bank Park on May 22, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Phillies have historically been good against a weak schedule. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

This is a team that has essentially changed nothing from a 2023 unit that won 90 games and was a Game 7 away from reaching the World Series. So far they looked even better.

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Of course, one important weapon remains for the team’s opponents.

Here’s what Jake Mintz of Yahoo Sports had to say about the Phillies’ schedule on Tuesday:

As of Tuesday, the combined winning percentage of Philadelphia’s opponents this year was .465, by far the lowest in the MLB. The next easiest schedule was Tampa Bay’s at .477. No other team had an SOS under .480.

That is an ultra-gentle schedule from Charmin. Cozier than Egyptian cotton. Far from a glove. Sailing as smoothly as possible. But several things can be true at once: the schedule was bad and the Phillies were better.

One match later, not much has changed. The Phillies have faced some of the softest games in the MLB, and that doesn’t mean they’re very good.

After dropping a three-game series to the Atlanta Braves, it’s highly conceivable that the Phillies won’t play a team above. 500 again until June 3, when they take on the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Of course, some of those teams are .500 or lower because they faced the Phillies. Like the Rangers, who were 24-24 when they started their current series in Philadelphia.

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Elite teams have to look elite against bad competition and the Phillies have looked elite so far this season. Their +90 differential is the best in the MLB. If they take a step back when they face more of their fellow prospects, they will still be a very good team.

For now, Philadelphia can enjoy one of the best teams in baseball and a six-game lead over the much-hyped Braves.

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