The Phightin’ Phils are back

| Sports Editor
David Swanson | Philadelphia Inquirer | MCT

Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley throws to first with Jeff Larish out at second in a spring training game in Clearwater, Fla., Thursday, March 11, 2010.

Oftentimes, the year after losing in a championship, a team can suffer a post-defeat hangover of sorts. This idea has been on display over the last few years in baseball, as the 2007 Houston Astros, 2008 St. Louis Cardinals (sorry, folks) and the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays all missed the playoffs a year after falling in the World Series.

So here are three reasons why the reigning MLB runners-up, the Philadelphia Phillies, will not only buck that trend but also have as good a chance as anyone to take home the World Series title.

1. The adjustments
While some teams stand pat after obtaining high levels of success, the Phillies were active throughout the offseason. Upgrading from Cliff Lee at #1 starter is no small task, but they managed to do that by bringing in Roy Halladay, who is arguably one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers. He will be motivated since he is pitching on a strong team and will feast on NL hitting. Meanwhile, Placido Polanco was brought in to replace Pedro Felix at third base, and Polanco has a more consistent bat at the top of the order along with some very strong defense.

2. The lineup
Save possibly the defending champion New York Yankees, the Phillies have the best hitting infield and arguably the best all-around lineup in the majors. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard pack quite a punch at the 3-4 spots in the order, and if Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez can keep up the levels of production from their breakout seasons last year, this lineup will be a headache for anyone who has the misfortune of trotting up to the mound against it.

3. The competition
Who in the National League is going to stop them? Within their division, the Mets could be a threat, but they’re still behind and who knows how healthy they’ll be again. I know there’s a piece here about the Cardinals, but after Pujols and Holliday, their lineup drops off significantly. And Jonathan Broxton is still having nightmares about the past two NLCSs, so good luck to the Dodgers. And then what happens if the Phillies reach the Series and the big bad Yankees are there again waiting for them? They’ll be ready. Halladay will be as energized as ever to finally be in the postseason (against a team he’s had success against historically) and with the sting of defeat still fresh on their minds from November, these Phillies won’t go down easily to anyone.

So here’s the catch: I was born 15 minutes outside of the city of Brotherly Love and have no problem admitting there’s probably some bias in here. So am I wrong? Do you disagree? Are you a Mets fan? We want your opinion. Contact us at [email protected]

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