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The List: Weak Links

Over at Nationals Journal, we've been marveling at how thoroughly the Nationals' exceptional offense has been undermined by an historically bad bullpen.

But sometimes even contending teams are submarined by one particular weakness. Here are five examples from this season:

5. The Giants' offense: The 50-game suspension of Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez opened the door for the second-place Giants to make a big move in the NL West, but their hideous offense simply won't let them. This collection of "hitters" has posted a collective .680 OPS this season, second-worst in the majors. (To put that into context, across all of MLB, number-eight hitters have posted a .728 OPS this year.)

4. The White Sox's defense: The White Sox are still only 5 1/2 games back in the mediocre AL Central, but their defense is killing them. According to Baseball Prospectus, they rank 28th in the majors (ahead of only the Orioles and Nationals) in park-adjusted defensive efficiency (the rate at which a defense turns balls in play into outs).

3. The Red Sox's DHs: Yes, this is another way of saying "David Ortiz." The Red Sox have gotten by far the least production (.604 OPS) out of their DH spot of any AL team, and the seriously slumping Ortiz (.203/.317/.293) has made all but four of the starts there. Despite Ortiz's rally-killing, the Red Sox have the fifth-best record in the majors, and trail AL East-leading Toronto by only 2 1/2 games.

2. The Angels' bullpen: If it weren't for the Nationals' train wreck, this would be the worst bullpen (5.99 ERA) in the majors -- a shame, given how well the Angels have otherwise played (20-18, three games back in the AL West) and how many major injuries and tragedy they have overcome.

1. The Phillies' rotation: The Phillies have managed to re-take the lead in the NL East despite having what is indisputably the worst starting rotation in baseball -- it ranks last in ERA (6.30), opponents' batting average (.305) and opponents' OPS (..921). In essence, the Phillies' starters turn every opposing hitter into Mark Teixeira (career OPS: .918).

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 20, 2009; 8:36 AM ET
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Next: Boswell: It's Safe To Watch The World Series Again


Makes you wonder how dominate the Phils will be when they fix the rotation issues. First place in a competitive division (sans the Nats of course) with the level of pitching they have gotten thus far is very impressive. Their bullpen hasn't been very good either, especially Lidge in the back end.
I don't know for certain, but I imagine they are leading the league in come from behind victories thanks to their high powered "never say die" offense and stellar defense.
Do you guys care to retract your "worst off-season move" statement regarding the Phils signing Ibanez??? He looks like the NL MVP right now.
Sending Chan Ho Park to the pen is step one in fixing the rotation. He never belonged in the first place. Hamels was sharp last night and looking healthy, and Myers is getting back on track. Good pitching is contagious just like hitting. If they avoid the injury bug, they will be playing October baseball again this year.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | May 20, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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