Offense key to Phils’ chances of leap in 2017

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies improved eight games in the standings from 2015 to ’16, but is it possible to make a similar jump next year?

Anything is possible, but the Phillies must make considerable improvements to challenge for a .500 record in 2017. They had the worst offense in Major League Baseball last season, and the only significant acquisition to the offense is left fielder Howie Kendrick, who posted a .691 OPS in 543 plate appearances with the Dodgers. They also had one of the poorest bullpens in baseball, which must improve.

“Progress doesn’t need to be linear,” Phillies president Andy MacPhail said in September. “If you look at teams that went through a real rebuilding program — whether it’s Baltimore, Pittsburgh or the Cubs — they didn’t stair step their way to the postseason. They lay flat in the 60s [wins] and maybe creep up to the 70s, but then boom, it’s 90s.”

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