Philadelphia Sports Day

Do Not Fret, Phillies Fans: It’s Just the Cycle of Sports

J.P Crawford (credit: Ian D'Andrea)

by Dan Laverde

The Phillies have gone five straight years without a winning season and with a record that stood nearly 30 games under .500 at the All-Star break this year, the drought is almost certain to extend to six.

This slump isn’t out of the ordinary, however. It is simply a stage in the cycle of sports.

Think of any sports team’s journey in terms of a line graph that measures success over time, like the economic cycle: In the cycle of sports, a franchise—like the economy—will see a period of growth, hit a peak at some point and then fall into a recession.

Depending on several factors along the way, that recession can last anywhere from a single season to—in the current case of the Phillies—five or more.

That’s really what this “slump” is: A recession in the cycle that most sports franchises go through over the years.

The recession in Philly began in 2012 after missing the playoffs with a disappointing .500 finish, coming off what was a historic season in 2011 when they notched 102 wins; their best mark in franchise history.

Despite not winning a title that year, 2011 was the peak for the Phillies in terms of performance measured by win totals. Once a peak is reached, however, the only way to go is down from there.

Still, one might wonder what caused the turning point; how a team could go from a record-breaking season to year after year of losing baseball.

It’s certainly not the first time a dramatic drop off like this has happened—to the Phillies or any other team.

In 1993, the Phillies won 97 games and were National League Champions. The next year, they finished the season 20.5 games out of first place.

The strike in ’94 certainly played a factor, but the Phillies would not have been playoff bound that year regardless because of injuries and an unravelling pitching staff.

Most recently, the Chicago Cubs won it all in 2016 and now this year, their record shockingly stood at two games under .500 at the All-Star break.

The Cubs are facing a similar unforeseen drop off that the Phillies did in 1994 and 2012. They peaked and although it is more dramatic than expected, are on a decline the following season.

Now, the cycle isn’t always consistent: There are many factors at play that dictate a team’s success from year to year. Factors like injuries, managerial changes, trades and acquisitions—among others—will affect how quickly a team rebuilds or declines.

Even something minor like a sudden boost in team moral could make a team a loser one year and a winner the next—it’s really unpredictable.

At some point, though, the tides will shift.

After that disappointing 1994 season, the Phillies were on the decline until 2001 when their rebuilding efforts started to take effect and got them to a growth period.

The Phils enjoyed a lot of success from the start of the growth period to that peak season in 2011: The team won at least 80 games every year from 2001-2011, including five consecutive National League East Division titles from 2007-2011 and the World Series title in 2008.

Much like they were from 1994-2001, the Phillies are in the midst of a decline today.

The good news is, while they may be in a recession now, the only way to go from here is up—to the growth period—where they will gradually rise (at sometimes painful speeds for fans) to another peak.

It might be taking longer this time around the cycle, but do not fear, Phillies fans. They will get there.

A good indicator of how fast it might take the Phillies to get out of the recession and start transitioning to an upward trend is their farm system and young talent.

Here’s a quick reminder of how bright the future is looking in Philadelphia:

Prospects to Watch:

1. Mickey Moniak, OF: He’s only 19-years-old and has all of the tools to be a successful pro ball player. Projected arrival in the Majors: 2019.

2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B: The 24-year-old will likely be called up in 2017 for an MLB trial, as he is smoking the ball in Triple-A with a .285 BA and 20 homeruns.

3. Sixto Sanchez, RHP: Just 18-years-old, can throw up to 101 MPH and has 54 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 56 innings at Low-A ball. Projected arrival in the Majors: 2020

4. J.P. Crawford, SS: Still young at 22-years-old and may be underperforming, but has been hot of late and has all of the tools. He should be called up toward the latter part of this season for an MLB trial.

5. Scott Kingery, 2B: The 23-year-old has a sweet swing and is hitting over .300 consistently in the Minors. With 22 homers and 53 RBI in 86 games this season, he is arguably the Phillies’ best hitting prospect. Projected arrival in the Majors: 2018.

For a complete list of Phillies Top Prospects, click here >

Just remember: There will always be ups and downs, but at some point, there will be a peak. It’s the cycle of sports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *