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NL EAST
JOE LEMIRE
March 26, 2012
The Phillies will win their sixth straight division crown, but the revolution is coming: The Marlins and the Nationals are primed for an insurgency in the East
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March 26, 2012

Nl East

The Phillies will win their sixth straight division crown, but the revolution is coming: The Marlins and the Nationals are primed for an insurgency in the East

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This year's rotation won't attract the same attention—righthander Roy Oswalt was let go as a free agent—but righthander Vance Worley's emergence (11--3, 3.01 ERA as a rookie last year) will soften the loss. The lineup, the majors' oldest each of the last two years, remains mostly intact. The current core, together since 2005, scored an average of 837 runs per season from '05 though '09 before dipping to 772 in '10, then just 713 in '11. That number could sink further, with slugging first baseman Ryan Howard—who tore his left Achilles tendon while making the final out of the Phillies' upset NLDS loss to the Cardinals—out at least until June. And second baseman Chase Utley, who is plagued by a chronic right-knee tendinitis, played only 103 games last season and had his worst OPS (.769) since he was a rookie in 2003.

With Hamels and centerfielder Shane Victorino each in the final season of his contract, the club's window of dominance is narrowing, even if the Phillies don't agree. "We have that urgency every year," Amaro says. Certainly. But this year their competitors are better equipped to overthrow them.

HOW THEY'LL FINISH

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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