Scouting report: Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies The one-time Cardiac Kids end up on the right side of a tremendous September collapse, erasing memories of a 1964 pennant race no one really remembers anyway. This year's club features some of the best hitters in the game, an ace lefty starter who's still flying somewhat under the radar and a workhorse bullpen with members who pitched better the harder they were worked.

The Phillies are now the 13th National League franchise to make the playoffs in the wild-card era, leaving only Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Washington on the outside. The Phillies also became the fourth franchise GM Pat Gillick has brought to the playoffs, and though most of the key players were already in the system when he took the job, his first move -- trading Jim Thome for Aaron Rowand, freeing a spot for Ryan Howard about a year after the kid was ready -- made this playoff appearance possible.


This team can rake. The Phillies led the NL in runs scored, scoring 39 runs (5 percent) more than Colorado and 76 more than Atlanta, the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in that category. The top of their lineup is a tough gantlet for opposing pitchers to run through, with four of the top 25 or so hitters in the league this season in their top five spots. Chase Utley was easily the most valuable player on the Phillies this year, and he would have won the MVP award in a rout if his hand hadn't been broken by a pitch thrown by John Lannan in late July.