As the Phillies journey deeper into the 2008 season, we measure which players have supplied the most muscle in the latest installment of Beerleaguer Power Rankings. Readers are encouraged to supply their own.
1. Cole Hamels: The Phils have lost three straight games, but the skid ends tonight. Bold statements, but Hamels has my back. Built to stop losing streaks in their tracks, the team’s best pitcher stands alone as the guy they’ve counted on the most, especially since Brett Myers cannot be counted on to perform at the same level. Hamels went the distance for his first career complete-game shutout his last start, allowing four hits while striking out six in the Phillies’ 5-0 win over Atlanta. He’s lasted seven or more innings in every start but one. He’ll be making his second trip to the All-Star game.
2. Pat Burrell: I like the season Burrell has had better than that of Chase Utley. Burrell earns bonus points for exceeding expectations. Utley is performing at, or slightly higher than, expectations. The two have generated similar power and run production. Everything is quite similar except for their performances in big at bats. Burrell has been the better hitter in that regard. Nevertheless, both players have cooled off this month.
3. Chase Utley: No longer setting the pace for NL MVP. Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones, Albert Pujols and even Nate McLouth have passed him. The star second baseman is hitting just .184 with a homer and three RBIs since May 9. Utley may be the Phillies’ best all-around player, but he’s been a streaky player his entire career. His peaks and valleys aren’t as sharp as Ryan Howard’s because he’s quick to adjust, but he can definitely get out of whack with his timing.
4. Brad Lidge: Lidge has been almost unhittable, possessing the kind of stuff Charlie Manuel has craved for his final inning. He’s dared hitters with his slider, and they can’t touch him. After 19 near spotless frames, he's converted 10 of 10 save opportunities and is averaging a little better than a strikeout per inning (21/8 K/BB ratio).
5. Chad Durbin: Making the biggest jump, Durbin has been vitally important to the bullpen, so much so that he could have easily leapfrogged Brad Lidge. There’s something to be said about performing well in multiple roles. He's been the missing piece. Durbin can eat innings or work late frames in a tight ballgame. He’s done whatever they’ve asked him to do, and he’s responded. He’s what Ryan Madson was in 2004, when Mad Dog could have been considered the most important pitcher in their staff for the first half of that season. Let’s hope Durbin can make it last; his peripherals aren’t particularly strong.
The rest: 6. Jayson Werth; 7. Jimmy Rollins; 8. Kyle Kendrick; 9. Jamie Moyer; 10. Ryan Howard.