Halladay has led the Philllies to an MLB-best 88-47 record. IBTIMES.COM

If you polled a group of knowledgeable baseball fans back in the spring when the Major League Baseball (MLB) season began, a clear consensus would have emerged: the Phillies were widely regarded as the most talented team in baseball and the clear-cut favorite to win the World Series. With the fall only a few weeks away, it’s clear that the Phillies are still the team to beat.

With an MLB-best record of 87-46, the Phillies have the wins to validate the spring hype.

The most commonly cited reason for the Phillies’ spring position atop the baseball world was their exceptional pitching staff.

When the Phillies reacquired Cliff Lee this past off-season, baseball fans around the globe marvelled at the potential greatness of the starting rotation. Put simply, the Phillies arguably have the best starting rotation anyone has assembled in the last 20 years.

Over the summer, the Phillies starters have yet to disappoint. In fact, they’ve added fuel to the fire that was sparked by the additions of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay over the past consecutive off-seasons.

Halladay has led the starting staff, but with this much talent, a clear ace is not easy to identify; their top three starters would be aces on most other MLB clubs. Halladay has once again looked like the workhorse that Blue Jays fans grew accustomed to during his 10-year reign as the Jays’ ace.

In 27 starts he has logged 196.2 innings and a record of 16-5. His Earned Run Average (ERA) of 2.47, Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) of 1.04, and Strikeouts per 9 Innings (K/9) of 8.7 all represent numbers that are on pace to either come close to or completely shatter Halladay’s career bests in the respective categories.

Lee has been trailing behind Halladay only slightly this year, which in itself is noteworthy be- cause it means the Phillies legitimately have two elite aces on their staff. In the same amount of starts, Lee has posted a very impressive 2.59 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, and has been striking out batters at a jaw-dropping 9.2 K/9 mark, which leaves him with the second-most strikeouts in the National League (NL) this year.

The fun doesn’t stop there, folks. Cole Hamels, the Phillies’ third-best starter, has once again displayed exceptional stuff this year. Hamels has an ERA of only 2.58, a mind-blowing WHIP of 0.97, and a very respectable K/9 of 8.2 in 178 innings.

The Phillies’ starting rotation has been just as good as advertised, and this played a crucial role in the team’s remarkable performance in the summer of 2010.