It's early to begin making projections for 2017, but the Phillies are entering the third year of a rebuild and aiming to finish at or above the .500 mark for the first time in six years.
Last year marked an eight-win improvement over 2015 (63 to 71), but the Phillies run differential (-186) was the worst in baseball and the nine-win difference between their Pythagorean record and their actual record was the largest discrepancy in the National League.
Without getting into the world of equations and advanced sabermetrics just know that for every 10 runs a team improves via run differential they are expected to win one more game. So, the mission this offseason for the Phillies is to explore how to improve the roster so that it results in a net gain of approximately 100 runs for 2017.
The best statistic to account for an individual's contribution to an overall team's run differential is base runs. Base runs estimates the number of runs a team "should have" scored given their component offensive statistics. It's not ideal to calculate for individual players, but it provides a better estimate to the individualized contributions to the team's overall run differential.
For instance, we already know Ryan Howard isn't coming back in 2017. He scored 35 runs but his base runs value was 42, so with his departure the Phillies' net for runs acquired this offseason is -42. Peter Bourjos also isn't coming back and his base runs value was 39, pushing the overall net figure this offseason to -71.
Now, we also can project improvements for certain players for 2017. For example, Aaron Altherr had a base runs value of 19 but he missed a significant portion of the season due to injury. Roman Quinn had a base run value of 9 through only 15 games, but we can project he'll play more in 2017 so his impact to the team run differential will result in a net gain for the Phillies.
Over the coming weeks, I'll provide position-by-position breakdowns and projections to see where the Phillies can improve on their 2016 run differential.
However the figures go, the target for the Phillies this offseason needs to be an improvement of approximately 100 runs.