We've heard all offseason that their core players need to perform, that their big money guys need to earn their big money, that all that has been missing from this club over the past couple of seasons is consistent production from the familiar faces.
Well, after a 7-0 victory over the Dodgers last night, here is where we stand:
Chase Utley: 1.086 OPS, 3 home runs
Ryan Howard: .905 OPS, 5 home runs
Jimmy Rollins: .830 OPS, 3 home runs
Carlos Ruiz: .780 OPS, 1 home run
Those four players will combine to make over $56 million this season, and thus far they are earning it. The most notable difference, besides their presence on the field together, is their on base percentages. Rollins' is the lowest at .359.
The irony thus far: Missing in action has been everybody except the core four. Yesterday, Cody Asche was on the bench against lefty Paul Maholm. Asche is hitting just .196 with a .579 OPS and 14 strikeouts in 46 at bats. Sandberg elected to go with the defensively superior Freddy Galvis. Of course, Galvis is only 1-for-13 with two walks this season. Throw in Jayson Nix (4-for-22, 10 strikeouts), and the Phillies have a severe shortage of third basemen who are hitting. That even extends to Triple-A, where Maikel Franco is off to a rough start.
Phillies third basemen have combined to hit .179/.257/.254 with 21 strikeouts in 67 at bats. Their .510 OPS at the position trails only the Giants' .489. Meanwhile, in center field, the Phillies have just two extra base hits in 83 at bats, the fewest in the NL. Their .631 OPS ranks 11th. In left field, Domonic Brown is hitting .269/.324/.343 (.688 OPS), and in right field, Marlon Byrd has been excellent in right field, but he's been Delmon Young II thus far at the plate, with an 84 OPS+ and 23 strikeouts in 75 plate appearances.
Byrd's strikeout percentage — 30.7 percent of all plate appearances — trails only Mark Reynolds, Ian Desmond, Justin Upton, Starling Marte and Garrett Jones.
Keep in mind Domonic Brown and Ben Revere both had rough Aprils last season before getting hot.