For all you sabermetrics fans out there, we are happy to report that the Phillies created a new acronym when they completed a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night with a 5-1 victory.
WAOW. It stands for what an opening week. It’s even better than wOBA, but still slightly behind FIP and well behind xFIP on the sabermetrics measuring scale.
The mathematical formula for WAOW was two home runs each from the two former National League MVPs (Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper) you signed as free agents, plus two more home runs from your eight-hole hitter (Maikel Franco) you were thinking about trading when last season ended, and an opening-day grand slam from your cleanup hitter (Rhys Hoskins).
It all added up to a 3-0 start for the Phillies, the last remaining unbeaten team in baseball.
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Walk them at your own risk
Harper’s debut and those eight home runs the Phillies hit in their first three games garnered the bulk of the attention during the team’s season-opening sweep of the Braves, but that was only half the equation of what made them the model for modern-day baseball.
The other half of the equation was all those walks they happily accepted from the Braves pitching staff.
The Phillies walked 20 times in their first three games, the most free passes in their first three games since 2010, when they walked 21 times in a season-opening series against the Nationals in Washington. Eight of those walks became runs. The only other time they walked at least 20 times in their first three games since 1908 was in 1927.
In addition to those walks that turned into runs, two Phillies hitters — Jean Segura and Hoskins — scored Sunday after being hit by pitches. The Phillies, in fact, broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning Sunday without the benefit of a hit.
Hoskins had only two hits during the series against the Braves, but thanks to five walks and the hit-by-pitch, he is tied for third in baseball with a .667 on-base percentage. Harper has drawn walks in all three games and has a total of four. His .538 on-base percentage is 11th in baseball.
Franco and McCutchen also have walked three times each.
It’s too soon to declare the Phillies the best team in baseball, but it’s not too soon to believe that they could be in that conversation again for the first time since 2011.
If you did not get enough of Harper in his first three games with the Phillies, we have plenty more to offer here. I spent three days in Las Vegas talking to some of the slugger’s former coaches and caught a glimpse of his high school and college playing fields. I also talked to Harper’s former teammates Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman about his days in D.C. and what they expect from the former National League MVP in the future.
It was quite a series finale down at Citizens Bank Park and it should come as no surprise that Harper stole the show again with his second home run in a Phillies uniform. And then things got a little testy when Braves pitcher Shane Carle drilled Hoskins in the left shoulder.
Jake Arrieta was not at his best (he walked six in six innings) but he was good enough to help the Phillies finish the sweep of the Braves.
On second thought, columnist Marcus Hayes has decided he is just fine with manager Gabe Kapler’s decision to bat Franco eighth in the Phillies order.
Our Matt Breen makes it clear that it did not take long for Harper to take over the town. Even the Phillie Phanatic now has a pair of Bryce Harper shoes.
The atmosphere for the Phillies’ opening-day win over the Braves was impressive, but I thought it was even better when the team returned Saturday and won again in front of a sellout crowd.
The Phillies have shown over the first three games that they can score some runs. You might need a study guide, however, to remember the variety of ways they celebrate. Our Matt Breen tries to help.
Here’s a photo gallery of Sunday night’s victory from the great Yong Kim.
Our Scott Lauber provides an enlightening glimpse of just how valuable staff ace Aaron Nola was to the Phillies’ rebuilding plan.
Today: Off day.
Tomorrow: Bryce Harper goes back to D.C. to face Nats ace Max Scherzer, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Phillies ace Aaron Nola vs. Anibal Sanchez, 1:05 p.m.
Thursday: Off day.
Friday: Nick Pivetta opens three-game series vs. Minnesota, 7:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Phillies could not extend their sellout streak to three during their series finale against the Braves, but they did draw 41,410 on a chilly Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The atmosphere at One Citizens Bank Way during the first three games reminded many of the glory days when guys named Ryan, Chase and Jimmy kept the ballpark rocking all summer. The Phillies’ three-game attendance of 130,476 was their best three-game showing at the start of the season since 2012, when they drew 135,684.
The Phillies’ sellout streak of 257 games ended in August of that year. Maybe, with Brycemania taking hold, a new streak will begin in 2019.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: I read in a different column (for the hundredth time) the phrase “extended spring training.” What does it mean? Who is there? Practice only, or games? Are the games all intrasquad, or do they include players from other MLB organizations?
Does it end at a certain time, or go on into the summer?
William M., via email
Answer: Thanks for the question, William. It’s a great one because a lot of people do not realize that the activities down at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., pretty much continue through August.
Extended spring training is for players who were not assigned to the Phillies’ four full-season minor-league clubs. Those teams are low-A Lakewood, high-A Clearwater, double-A Reading, and triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Shortly after the draft, five other short-season Phillies teams will begin play: Williamsport in the New York-Penn League; the Gulf Coast League East and West Phillies teams, and also two teams in the Dominican Republic summer league. Players from those teams are now part of the extended spring-training group playing games at the Carpenter Complex and they will continue to do so through early June.
Sometimes, the games are intrasquad, and sometimes, the Phillies will play extended games against squads from Toronto, the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh because they are all in close proximity to Clearwater.
Players rehabilitating injuries also participate in extended spring-training games.