I write this as the Phillies launch a pair of HRs off Mark Buehrle and Joe Blanton (Ace?) throws 7 baffling innings against the Miami Marlins, but the sentiment is one that will carry throughout the season: The Phillies are a small ball club now.
I assume that when you google "small ball," the box score and highlights from yesterday's Phillies game show up in the search results. 14 base hits (only three of which were for extra bases), three stolen bases (though Juan Pierre was obviously out and I'll be counting that as a CS when we tally the totals from my prediction post!), and even a dinker off the pitcher that rolled into left field. The Phils nearly doubled their season run total in a single game with the whole team getting on the slap hit train.
I like it for a number of reasons: This pitching staff and defense will only require a handful of runs from the offense to win anyway, your big bats are obviously out of commission right now, and the last two World Series Champions have been the product of timely consistent hitting as much as solid pitching.But most importantly in my eyes, yesterday's game represents a change in Phillies philosophy at the plate. Charlie Manuel commented early in the offseason that he wished for his players to move towards being a better OBP team. The pieces on this team are taylor made for small ball. They have guys who are capable of and have produced in the past .300 AVG seasons, they have smart and quick base runners who can move first to third or scored from second (Jimmy Rollins tonight being the exception), they have slap hitters in Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre who are halfway out of the box when they make contact, and they have light bats whose only chance to remain in the majors is to find gaps in Placido Polanco and Freddy Galvis. Yesterday's single-a-thon raised the team's BA 38 points on the season.
I for one, welcome the new forumla.