Despite having the same players, the Angels went from 75 wins and third place in the American League West in 2001 to 99 wins and a World Series title in 2002 with the improved offense being the primary reason.
In 2001, the Angels ranked 11th among 14 teams in the American League in hitting with a .261 average. They were 10th in on-base percentage at .327, 12th in runs scored with 691, and last in hitting with runners in scoring position (.242).
In 2002, the Angels were first in hitting at .282, tied for first at hitting with runners in scoring position at .290, and fourth in runs scored (851) and on-base percentage (.341).
The difference, according to Angels hitting instructor Mickey Hatcher, was all in the approach.
"We became a very, very unselfish team," Hatcher said during the 2002 World Series. "We sat down in spring training. . . . We just talked about the things we needed to do, and they bought into it. They realized the most important thing isn't home runs; it's on-base percentage, runs scored, and RBIs. Hitting home runs doesn't mean a thing. We had to figure out a way to start manufacturing runs. We had guys who had to have a different approach."
They did it most often by making contact. After striking out 1,001 times in 2001, the Angels reduced that number to a major-league low 805 in 2002.
Naturally, there are some differences between the 2001 Angels and the 2011 Phillies. That is bad news in some ways and good news in others. The Angels were probably very receptive to what Hatcher had to say because they were mostly in their mid-20s and had never tasted any sort of success.
The Phillies lineup is filled with mostly 30-somethings who have had success doing things their way, so getting them to alter their approach might not be so easy.
On the other hand, it's not as if the 2011 Phillies were nearly as bad offensively as the 2001 Angels.
You might be surprised to know that the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that ousted the Phillies in the National League division series, were the only team in the National League to strike out fewer times than the Phillies during the regular season.
The Phillies finished second to the Cardinals in hitting with runners in scoring position and were also second in on-base percentage with runners in scoring position.
"When we added Hunter Pence, that improved our team and gave us a big lift and gave us a player that we desperately needed," Manuel said Wednesday in his first extended news conference since the Game 5 loss to the Cardinals.
Pence significantly improved the offense, and it's plausible that John Mayberry Jr.'s bat in the lineup on a daily basis will represent further improvement in 2012. Pence and Mayberry make the Phillies younger and potentially more powerful. More power did not make Amaro's postmortem agenda, but it wouldn't hurt a team that has gone backward in the home run and extra-base-hit department each of the last two seasons.
"John Mayberry is going to get a chance to be a regular player," Manuel said. "I think he will get to play more this coming season than he did this year. He proved he could be a good big-league player."
Having Pence for a full season and the development of Mayberry will likely be more important than a team-wide change in approach. Having a healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will certainly be more important than any philosophical tinkering.
"From an offensive standpoint, with the core players, the health thing definitely comes into play," Manuel said. "The last two or three years, we just haven't had [good health]."
The personnel changes Amaro makes offensively are also going to have more impact than any spring-training tutorial conducted by Manuel and hitting instructor Greg Gross.
But when Manuel and Gross get to the business of trying to change the approach of their hitters, they should remind them that thinking a little bit differently did work a decade ago for the World Series champion Angels.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at email@example.com or @brookob on Twitter.