How do the 2017 Phillies compare to some other bad Philadelphia baseball clubs
Philadelphia has been home to plenty of bad baseball teams, but this year's version of the Phillies is bordering on historic for all the wrong reasons and that's saying something considering the organization has a history dating back to 1883.

Using losses or winning percentage to compare teams from across eras is rudimentary. Too many variables have changed over time to ascertain anything meaningful - both are surface measurements that fail to paint a full picture.

Enter Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein with their groundbreaking work Baseball Dynasties, a book that examined baseball's greatest teams and used statistical analysis to rank the best ever. They introduced a ranking method by using z-scores based essentially on run differential.

A z-score is the number of standard deviations from the mean a data point is. But more technically it's a measure of how many standard deviations below or above the population mean a raw score is. In basic terms, it provides a simplistic way to rank data points and demonstrates dominance  (or lack thereof) of one team over another without using raw figures.  In this case, the z-score represents how the Phillies compare to the league average.

Enough with the math lesson.

A few years back I completed an analysis using the same method and categories used currently in our Power Rankings - OPS, Run Differential per Game, and WHIP - and ranked every Phillies club dating back to 1900.  The worst five years in Phillies' franchise history - according to my method - are 1945, 1942, 1939, 1938, and 1928.

So how does 2017 compare?

Looking at the chart, I don't think it's possible for this year's version of the Phillies to overtake 1945 and 1928 as the top two worst seasons in franchise history. The pitching is poor, but nothing compared to what fans at Baker Bowl and Shibe Park had to contend with. In fact, I think WHIP is the one area where the Phillies could see some improvement in the second half and jump ahead of the 2016 Phillies on this list.

It's a unique way to look at things, but the 2017 Phillies are on pace to be one of the 10 worst teams in franchise history. They won't hit the bar set by the 1945 and 1928 squads as worst ever, but they're still on an embarrassing trajectory considering the circumstances of the current rebuild.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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