The Phillies' postseason drought has swelled to nine throbbing seasons, the longest in the National League and second-longest in the majors.
The Phillies haven't made the postseason since 2011. That's also the last time they had a winning season.
The Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox all entered this season with longer postseason droughts than the Phillies.
All three clubs made the eight-team postseason field in their respective leagues. The Marlins did it with an $86 million payroll, which ranked 29th in the majors. They survived a COVID-19 outbreak and used 18 rookies. Don Mattingly should clear a spot in his trophy case for the NL Manager of the Year Award.
The Seattle Mariners are the only team in the majors with a longer postseason drought than the Phillies. They have not made the postseason since 2001.
The Phillies were eliminated from contention in a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on the final day of the season Sunday. It was their seventh loss in eight games and it left them at 28-32 for the season, which was shortened to 60 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Phillies' failure to make the postseason stings for many reasons.
They controlled their own destiny entering the final week of the season. With seven games to play, the Phils held the seventh playoff seed. They needed to win just two of their final seven games to get into the postseason. They won one. A win Sunday would have put them in.
The sting is even more acute because the Phillies were so good at getting leads and so bad at closing them out. They lost 21 games in which they held a lead at one point. Eight of those losses came in games in which they led by three or more runs. A historically bad bullpen hurt the team time and time again and the unit must be overhauled in the offseason.
The sting of not making the playoffs is even more pronounced because it was such a low bar. Usually, five teams in each league make the postseason. This year, in an attempt to recoup revenues lost from the pandemic, MLB increased the number of qualifying teams to eight in each league. It's a pretty sad commentary on the state of a team that can't clear an eight-team bar.
The sting that the Phillies — and ownership, in particular — feels today is intensified by the fact that, on paper, this was the most expensive team in club history. According to Cot's Contracts, the Phillies' luxury-tax payroll was over $207 million this season. That ranks fifth in baseball. Salaries were adjusted because of the pandemic, but that $207 million figure still applies when calculating the tax.
That's a lot of money spent on a team that doesn't make the playoffs.
Over the last three offseasons, the Phillies spent over $700 million on free agents. The best they could muster was a .500 season in 2019. Bryce Harper accounted for $330 million of that outlay. He has 11 more seasons left on his contract.
During their nine-year postseason drought, the Phillies have spent over $1.43 billion on salaries. That ranks second in the National League East, behind Washington's $1.56 billion, and sixth overall in the NL.