Deepest division in baseball? Here's why the NL East hasn't lived up to preseason hype

AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

It's been a bit of rocky start to the 2021 season for the Philadelphia Phillies. Consider the following:

  • Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius, considered the heart of the Phillies' lineup alongside Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, each enter Sunday with an on-base percentage under .300.

  • Their center fielders -- the Phillies have started four of them -- have been a disaster, hitting .144/.228/.243 for the worst OPS in the majors.

  • Harper has been great, but recently missed seven of eight games after hit in the face with a pitch and then injuring his wrist.

  • Chase Anderson and Matt Moore, brought in to upgrade the back of the rotation, are a combined 1-4 with a 6.63 ERA.

  • The revamped bullpen has been better than the historically awful 2020 pen, at least before Saturday's loss in which it blew three different leads from the ninth inning, but still ranks 25th in the majors in both ERA and win probability added.

  • Jose Alvarado embarrassed himself and the club when he nearly incited a brawl last week after yelling at the Mets' Dominic Smith after a strikeout.

  • Manager Joe Girardi attempted to use reliever Enyel De Los Santos this past Tuesday, only to realize De Los Santos was ineligible because he had not been included in the computer-generated lineup card.

  • They lost last week's Sunday night game when Hoskins' apparent game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth instead was correctly ruled a double.

  • The Phillies also made five defensive miscues in that game. They rank 28th in the majors in defensive runs saved, leading my friend Eric Karabell to say on the ESPN Fantasy Focus podcast, "They've set defense back 80 years with the way they've played."

Did we mention the Phillies are now tied for first place in the National League East?