To celebrate the Phillies’ return to officially mediocre (20-20!), I refer you to a pretty cognizant post at PhilliesNation. The post makes an excellent point and skirts around another:
1. Outfield defense is the single most under-appreciated factor in NL brand baseball. It generates "extra" outs- outs that are even more important than normal- throwing guys out on the basepaths, taking away extra base hits. That is of unreal importance in a hitters’ park like ours. Think of the havoc "giving a team four outs" creates- and then think of the semi-similar exercise of only granting two outs due to a great play. Also, the spacious outfields of our division- Shea and RFK in particular. It is helpful- particularly since I’m sure Rowand can cheat toward left with Victorino in right.
2. Another key reason for the renaissance is the fact the #4 hole isn't a total inning-killing, .204 hitting, with a billion strikeouts, cancer night after night. Howard has 20 hits- for the season! For the short term, Howard's absence as an every day player has been frankly helpful. And as his big game-winning HR last week proves- he has been sort of an indirect asset to the bench too.