But the Cardinals' success is more than just a good team getting hot at the right time.
The Cardinals can flat-out hit.
They finished second in the National League in scoring this season, averaging 4.72 runs per game. The Phillies finished eighth (4.22). The Cardinals led the league in scoring in 2011, averaging 4.70 runs per game. The Phillies finished seventh (4.40). But while that might not seem like the greatest of disparities, the most noticeable difference between the Cardinals' and Phillies' lineups are the presence (or lack thereof) of hitters that roll out of bed and hit .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
The 2011 Cardinals had Lance Berkman (.959), Matt Holliday (.912), Albert Pujols (.906) and Yadier Molina (.814) as hitters with 400 or more at-bats and an .800 or better OPS. The 2012 Cardinals have Holliday (.877), Allen Craig (.876), Molina (.874), Carlos Beltran (.842) and David Freese (.839).
Of the everyday players in the Phillies' lineup in 2011, they had Hunter Pence (.954), Shane Victorino (.847) and Ryan Howard (.835). In 2012, they had only Carlos Ruiz (.935).
That's not a lot of punch.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will try to add some pop to his lineup this offseason, particularly in the outfield. He said last week nobody is guaranteed a starting spot in the 2013 outfield, although it seems like Domonic Brown has an inside track on one job. The Phillies have John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Nate Schierholtz and Darin Ruf in the mix, but certainly the Phillies need an everyday center fielder.
But the outfielders potentially available on the market are relatively sobering ones. There is not one guaranteed difference maker -- a guy that can roll out of bed and hit .300/30/100 -- other than Josh Hamilton, and the Phillies are not going to commit another $100 million contract on another player, especially one with so many question marks.
So who's left in the outfield?
Here are some of the names available via free agency:
Michael Bourn. The Phillies drafted and developed him, and familiarity never hurts in these situations. Bourn could hit first in Charlie Manuel's lineup and might be the best defensive center fielder in the game based on modern metrics. Bourn has a career .339 on-base percentage (Jimmy Rollins has a career OBP of .328). He also knows how to work a count, ranking 14th out of 144 qualifying hitters by averaging 4.15 pitches per plate appearance. But he also hits left-handed (Amaro made a point last week to mention they are left-handed-heavy in the lineup) and his agent is Scott Boras, who will be looking for a major payday. Bourn's career OPS also is just .704.
Melky Cabrera. He would have made sense before he got busted for PEDs. But it would be surprising if the Phillies pursued him at this point, especially if Cabrera is looking for a multiyear deal.
Jonny Gomes. If the Phillies are looking for a platoon player, Gomes would make a lot of sense. He has a career. 894 OPS against left-handed pitching.
Torii Hunter. He's still productive, offensively, but he will be 37 next season.
Angel Pagan. He would be a good fit, if the Giants don't sign him to an extension first. He might come cheaper than sexier names like Bourn and B.J. Upton, and his production is up there with them: Pagan (career .757 OPS), Upton (.758) and Bourn (.704).
Cody Ross. The Phillies like Ross, but he might not hit free agency. The Red Sox are trying to sign him to a multiyear extension.
Upton. This is a guy that will be mentioned frequently this offseason. Scouts love him because he is a "tools" guy. He has lots of tools. He can hit for power, he can run, he can cover a ton of ground in the outfield and he has a great arm. Of course, he hasn't hit better than .243 since 2008 and has not had better than a .784 OPS since 2007. He also has been benched in the past for a lack of hustle and has had occasional mental lapses on the field. He could work at the right price, but would the Phillies get into a bidding war for him?
Victorino. The Phillies could reunite with Victorino, but it seems likely only if they strike out elsewhere and he is willing to accept a short-term contract. We're talking about a one-year or two-year deal. The Phillies could handle that, and hope Tyson Gillies continues to develop in the meantime.
Here are some names potentially available via trade:
Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. The Denver Post reported recently that while the Rockies are not actively shopping Fowler, they could move him for young pitching. The Phillies have young pitching, so perhaps they could take a run at Fowler or Cuddyer, who they pursued seriously last offseason. Fowler is a center fielder. He had an .863 OPS this season, but is a frighteningly different hitter away from Coors Field. He has a career .882 OPS at home and just a .698 OPS on the road. Cuddyer has some pop from the right side of the plate, and he can play multiple positions.
Jason Kubel and Justin Upton. Either would be interesting if the D-backs try to trade them. Kubel had an .833 OPS with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs this season. Upton's name has been in trade rumors before. He took a step back this season (.785 OPS) after a solid 2011 (.898).
Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs might be willing to trade him, but he has two years and $36 million remaining on his contract. He also has a complete no-trade clause. But if the Cubs would eat some of the contract, Soriano could be the right-handed power bat they need. He had an .821 OPS last season with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less