The Phillies have played 24 games. They have won 12. They have lost 12. The bullpen has blown some games. The offense has scored more than last season. The starting pitching has been decent.
The 2016 Phillies, beneficiaries of good luck in close games, were 14-10 through 24 games. But these Phillies have outscored their opponents by 14 runs, a stark improvement from 2016 when the Phillies had a minus-17 run differential after 24 games.
There is no better indicator of how that happened than the top of the lineup. The Phillies' Nos. 1 and 2 hitters have generated more production than the first two hitters of every other team in baseball.
After Monday's 10-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, the Phillies' first two batters were hitting .345 with a .408 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage. All three of those numbers lead the majors. The 43 runs scored by the first two hitters rank fourth in the majors.
Last season, the Phillies' Nos. 1 and 2 hitters compiled a .260/.334/.382 line. The first two hitters scored 178 runs, which ranked 27th in baseball.
This season, there are more men on base for the middle of the batting order to drive home. Maikel Franco has batted 54 times with runners on base. Odubel Herrera has batted 53 times with runners on base. Both of those rank in the top 20 in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus. The more opportunities those hitters have, the Phillies believe, the more runs the team will score.
They have scored 116 runs in 24 games, a sharp increase from the 80 runs scored in the first 24 games of last season. Remove the 10 runs charged to Washington's sacrificial lamb Jeremy Guthrie, and the uptick is still measurable.
Cesar Hernandez has paced the offense from the leadoff spot. But the contributions behind him, in the two hole, are spread among a few players.
The Phillies cannot expect the current level of production from the top two lineup spots to continue at its current rate, but it is an early trend to watch.