That was Then...
For the first time since 2006, the Philadelphia Phillies were on the outside looking in at the National League East title and there is no shortage of reasons why they were not able to keep their impressive streak intact.
Slugger Ryan Howard suffered an Achilles injury on the final play of the 2011 season and then suffered a setback during Spring Training that saw him miss the first three months of the season. When he returned, he posted a .219 batting average and 14 homers in 260 at bats.
Second baseman Chase Utley was also placed on the disabled list before the season started and missed significant time before finally making a midseason return to the lineup.
While the team has big-name offensive talent, there is no doubt that the strength of the roster is supposed to be the pitching and while they once again got top-of-the-line production from starter Cole Hamels, ace Roy Halladay suffered through arm trouble and posted a 4.49 ERA.
Proving that sometimes numbers can lie, starter Cliff Lee was only able to win six games despite a strong 3.16 ERA. He didn't pick up his first win of the season until a July 4 start against the New York Mets.
It was a wasted year for a team built to compete now with a window that is closing a little more each year.
...This is Now
A Call To Arms
With a large collection of great arms, Cole Hamels will make the opening day start and lead the Phillies rotation.
The news is not getting better on the Roy Halladay front as one of the most durable and reliable arms in the Majors has suffered velocity problems in Spring Training and will now cede the opening day start to Hamels.
While the Phillies made a few additions during the off-season, they are very clearly going to rely on most of the same parts that helped them build their impressive streak of division titles and also capture the 2008 World Series Championship.
Jonathan Papelbon - who joined the team prior to last season from the Boston Red Sox - is still considered one of the best closers in the game, so if they can get leads into his hands they shouldn't have to worry about late game collapses.
The problem is going to be generating the offence and getting the pitching needed to get the lead late into contests.
If everyone is healthy for the Phillies and performs the way they are expected to, they will be a major player in this division.
If age and a lack of quality additions catch up to them at some point this season, they will once again find themselves in the middle of the pack.
Look for a possible veteran clearing house if they are out of contention by the deadline.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Antonio Bastardo, 2011 - Vance Worley, 2010 - Domonic Brown, 2009 - Lou Marson, 2008 - Kyle Kendrick, 2007 - Cole Hamels, 2006 - Ryan Howard, 2005 - Gavin Floyd, 2004 - Brett Myers, 2003 - Marlon Byrd
Despite a good rotation, the window might be closing due to age and injuries.
SS Jimmy Rollins is the top-ranked Phillie, at 41st overall.
The Phillies, as an older team, have plenty of proven commodities, so that offers some measure of reliability for fantasy owners, but older players come fraught with their owns risks too.
SS Jimmy Rollins and 1B Ryan Howard are the best options on offence, though Howard appears to be in decline. 2B Chase Utley is good to have when he's healthy, but that's been a problem.
3B Michael Young can still produce enough to hold fantasy value, as long as he plays every day, and C Carlos Ruiz was a revelation last year, but then got popped for PED use, so he's suspended to start 2013.
The outfield could provide some upside, with speedster Ben Revere in centre field and LF Domonic Brown looking at regular playing time a few years after being a hyped prospect.
Pitching is still a strong suit, but not without its own concerns. Lefties Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are pretty close to the top tier, but RHP Roy Halladay is showing signs of slipping – last year's 4.49 ERA was his worst since 2000.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon is one of the most reliable in the role.