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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Thursday, December 23, 2004

More Phun Phacts… 

Q: How bad was the Phillies Twentieth Century (1901-1999) performance?

A: Well, one World Series championship (1980), four losses in World Series (1915, 1950, 1983 & 1993), nine total playoff appearances, and a 6,979 – 8,280 record (.457). By the way, seven of the Phillies nine playoff apperances happened in an 18 year window between 1976 & 1993. Prior to 1976, the Phillies made the playoffs twice in three-quarters of a century.

Q: That’s depressing. Let’s turn to individual achievement. Who has played in the most games for the Phillies?

A: Mike Schmidt, at 2,404 games. Second place is occupied by Richie Ashburn, at 1,794 and Larry Bowa at 1,739. Schmidt had 10,062 plate appearances for the Phillies during that stretch.

Q: Okay, what about hits?

A: Schmidt narrowly edges out Richie Ashburn here: 2,234 to 2,217. Ashburn, I should note, had 1,230 fewer At-Bat’s … (Ashburn had a .311 career BA to Schmidt’s .267…) Bobby Abreu is well-behind Schmidt: 1,093 games.

Q: Are any modern Phillies threatening any records?

A: Yes, Bobby Abreu is actually seventh all-time on the Phillies in doubles (286) and will probably pass both Ashburn (287) and Del Ennis (310) in 2005 for fifth. Abreu is 156 doubles behind Ed Delahanty, the Phillies career leader with 442. Abreu is also almost halfway (739) to Schmidt’s career walks (1,507). Abreu has a better walks-per-plate appearance than Schmidt (.156 to .149).

Q: What about Schmidt's home run record?

A: Schmidt has 548 career home runs for the Phillies, double the number of the No. 2 man on the list: Del Ennis (259). Bobby Abreu is ninth at 163 right now and could occupy Ennis' slot before his career in Philadelphia is over. Scott Rolen is tenth at 150, but Mike Lieberthal (129) could pass him this season with 22 home runs. Pat Burrell is 13th (127) and Jim Thome, in just two seasons, is 23rd with 89. Thome came within one home run in 2003 of equaling Schmidt's single-season team record of 48 in 1980. Thome has the second (47; 2003) and fifth (42; 2004) most home runs in a single-season.

Q: What record did the Phillies shatter in 2004?

A: Team home runs with 215, breaking the old mark set by the 1977 team by 29.

Q: 215 home runs? They must have broken the team slugging mark too, right?

A: Wrong. The Phillies .443 slugging percentage last year was pretty good, but the team record of .476 was actually set in (check this out) 1894. Yeah, 100 years ago. The 1894 team may have hit just 40 home runs, but they hit a whopping 131 triples. The ’04 team had just 23.

Q: Do you have any other Phun Phacts?

A: Along with the Brewers, Expos and Pirates, the Phillies have never played in an NLDS.

Dazzle your friends and neighbors!

That's it until December 27th. I am working on some pieces about the importance of defense to the Phillies, as well as who I think the best shortstop is in the National League. You'll see both next week, and I have a few other big projects I am working on.

All I want is a National League Pennant, Santa. Merry Christmas!

(4) comments

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Did you get that memo about TPS reports? 

Amaury Telemaco and Geoff Geary agreed to 600K and 320K contracts with the Phillies yesterday. How did they do in 2004?

Telemaco: 4.31 ERA v. 5.81 FIP ERA (.759 DER); 0.90 G/F ratio; 2.0 hr/9
Geary: 5.44 ERA v. 5.33 FIP ERA (.692 DER); 0.89 G/F ratio; 1.6 hr/9

Glossary:
FIP
– Fielding Independent Pitching: [13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP + League Factor]
DER – Defense Efficiency Ratio: % of balls put into play fielders turn into outs.
G/F – Groundball-to-Flyball ratio.
Hr/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings.

Analysis: apparently the Phillies didn’t get the memo about flyball pitchers being bad news at Citizen’s Bank. After Paul Abbott and Josh Hancock, Telemaco’s two home runs per nine innings were the worst on the team. Geary was right behind him. These are both flyball pitchers and it isn’t good to staff your relief corps with guys who put the ball into the air … To Geary’s credit, he did pitch slightly better than his ERA reflects, but Telemaco’s 4.31 ERA is a mirage: his FIP is over a run and a half higher, and he benefitted from good defense in 2004. He’ll get hit hard in 2005.

I don’t like either move. Grumble, grumble.

(0) comments

Phun Phacts.... 

I was looking at Baseball Reference.com the other day and I was playing around with an interesting feature they have: historical team-v.-team matchups. So get ready for a little Phillies trivia …

Q: Historically, are the Phillies winners or losers?

A: Losers. Since 1901, the Phillies are 7,382 – 8,686. That’s a winning percentage of .459 … The Phillies could be undefeated (162-0) for the next eight seasons and still be under .500 …

Q: That sounds bad…

A: Yeah, well it could be worse: the Phillies have actually out-performed their historical pythagorean win-loss record by 53 games. Their pythagorean win-loss record is 7,329 - 8,816 …

Q: Anyone can have a bad century. How are the Philles doing in this millenium?

A: I know the third millenium only kicked off in 2001, but I’ll include the 2000 season … since Opening Day, 2000, the Phillies are a respectable 403-406 (.498).

Q: Against which franchise have the Phillies played the most games?

A: Entering the 2005 season the Phillies have played the most games against the Chicago Cubs: 1,989 since 1901. Closely following are the St. Louis Cardinals (1,985) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1,981).

Q: Who have the Phillies had success against?

A: They are 2-1 historically against the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland A’s and the Cleveland Indians. Against teams they’ve played more than three times, the Phillies are best against the Milwaukee Brewers (30-19, .612).

Q: How have the Phillies done against the NL’s original eight?

A: The original eight (ranked by Phillies winning percentage) are the…
1) Boston – Milwaukee – Atlanta Braves (911-991, .479)
2) Chicago Cubs (930-1046, .471)
3) Pittsburgh Pirates (893-1080, .453)
4) Cincinnati Reds (811-1024, .446)
5) Brooklyn – Los Angeles Dodgers (805-1033, .438)
6) St. Louis Cardinals (849-1126, .430)
7) New York – San Francisco Giants (748-1080, .409)
8) and the Phillies

The Phillies have had the most success against the Braves and the least against the Giants.

Q: What distinction do the Phillies have with respect to the original 16 MLB franchises?

A: The Phillies were the last to win the World Series.

Q: What team have the Phillies never played?

A: Tampa? Seattle? Wrong. Try the Texas Rangers. They are the only MLB team the Phillies have never played against.

Q: Recent history. The Phillies have made a serious push over the last two years to contend, having acquired guys like Millwood, Milton, Wagner, Thome, and Bell. How have the Phillies done in the last two years?

A: Consectutive 86-76 finishes (172-152, .530).

Q: How have the Phillies done against the NL East?

A: Overall, not well. 78-84 (.481). But that's mostly the Marlins fault:

Florida: 13-35 (.342)
Atlanta: 19-19 (.500)
Montreal: 23-15 (.605)
New York: 23-15 (.605)

Q: What about against the NL Central?

A: Better: 39-36 (.520) v. the NL Central. Specifically:

Chicago: 8-4
Milwaukee: 8-4
Cincinnati: 7-8
St. Louis: 7-5
Houston: 4-8
Pittsburgh: 5-7

Q: The NL West?

A: The best: 38-26 (.594). They’ve had remarkable success against the Dodgers, for example (10-3, .769). Less well against the rest:

San Francisco: 5-7
Colorado: 7-7
Arizona: 7-5
San Diego: 9-4

Q: What about interleague play?

A: The Phils are 17-16 (.515) v. American League.

So there you go, Phun Phacts to dazzle your friends at your next cocktail party… More tomorrow...

(22) comments

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Clutch Hitting? 

One of the most surprising things I read in Moneyball was the fact that “clutch hitting” didn’t exist. Players, a man named Dick Cramer (a researcher for the pharmaceutical company SmithKline French), discovered during the 1980s, didn’t play any better when the game was on the line than any time else. (See, Moneyball, p. 79.) Players didn’t rise to the occasion and perform better under pressure. This information, cold and impersonal as it is, goes against one of the more dearly held bits of conventional wisdom in baseball: that elite players rise up and become superstars when the game is on the line. In an interview in SI’s 2004 season preview, the Yankees Reggie Jackson hotly disputed the idea that clutch hitting didn’t exist (calling it “the absolute dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life.”), relying upon gut instincts and anecdotal evidence to make his argument. Angrily, Derek Jeter chimed in: “You can take those stat guys and throw them out the window.” (Imagine how he felt after the “stats guys” derrided his 2004 Golden Glove.) (Sports Illustrated, April 5, 2004: p. 60-62.) It is one of the primary divides between the old school and the new school of Sabremetrics.

I should note that some in the Sabremetrics world have made the argument that clutch hitting exists, however insignficant it may be. Tangotiger, for example, found that Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada added a few runs here and there in “clutch” situations, but otherwise chalked up “clutch hitting” largely to luck.

Hardball Times lists Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (BA w/ RISP) as part of their stats package and I was very, very surprised by three things I saw when I ran the numbers for the Phillies.

To start, look at the NL’s BA w/ RISP:

(BA w/ RISP) / (BA Variance)
Houston: .274 / +.007
San Francisco: .271 / +.001
St. Louis: .270 / -.008
Chicago: .266 / -.002
Pittsburgh: .266 / +.006
Atlanta: .263 / -.007
Colorado: .259 / -.016
San Diego: .258 / -.015
Philadelphia: .257 / -.010
Arizona: .257 / +.004
Los Angeles: .256 / -.006
Florida: .255 / -.009
Cincinnati: .248 / -.002
New York Mets: .245 / -.004
Montreal: .238 / -.010
Milwaukee: .221 / -.027
League: .257 / -.006

By the way, the results are somewhat different in the AL: .272 BA w/ RISP, a +.002 variance … Milwaukee’s spread stunned me, but equally surprising were the Pittsburgh Pirates, as one of the better teams when it came to hitting with runners on second and third. The Astros are an interesting case: no team hit higher with RISP, and no team rose more above their BA’s to excel in the clutch.

As you can see, the Phillies really stunk things up when it came to driving in runs. How did the Phillies players do individually? (As I said, there are three stunning results):

(BA w/ RISP) / (BA Variance)
Starting Lineup:
Abreu: .322 / +.021
Rollins: .313 / +.024
Byrd: .309 / +.081
Bell: .297 / +.006
Polanco: .270 / -.028
Burrell: .263 / +.006
Thome: .203 / -.071
Lieberthal: .142 / -.129

Bench:
Howard: .364 / +.082
Michaels: .284 / +.010
Pratt: .281 / +.023
Utley: .275 / +.009
Perez: .267 / +.051
Glanville: .243 / +.033
Ledee: .237 / -.048

The three surprises? I refer of course to Lieberthal’s .129 point fall with runners in scoring position, Thome’s .071 point collapse, and Byrd’s surprising .081 increase. Here is what I think:

-Byrd’s .309 was one of the best on the team, after Rollins, Abreu and Ryan Howard. I wonder how small the sample is that we are talking about, however: batting first or eighth, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position, so I wonder if Byrd simply got lucky a few times or not. Let us assume there are a lot of AB’s here: Byrd’s .309 suggests that he didn’t perform poorly in 2004 due to pressure. When the pressure was on in certain situations, Byrd really seemed to excell.

-Lieberthal’s .142 was the worst on the Phillies. It shocks me to see that, but maybe it isn’t that surprising: Lieberthal usually hit seventh with Marlon Byrd sitting behind him. I think teams probably pitched around him, figuring they’d be able to take care of Byrd with little difficulty. So Lieberthal’s .142 probably is better than advertised, but surprising.

-Thome’s .203 is what’s shocking. This guy is the Phillies MVP. He’s their big bat, their most important hitter. If he’s wiffing in the clutch, then the Phillies are in (big) trouble … I’m at a loss as to why he hit so poorly: Pat Burrell and David Bell usually hit behind him, so it wasn’t like teams knew they could get away with pitching around Thome. I initially thought this might be part of a larger decline in Thome’s abilities (30 Win Shares in 2003, 22 Win Shares in 2004), but I don’t think that’s the case:

2004 / 2003
OBP: .396 / .385
SLG: .581 / .573
BA: .274 / .266

I’m utterly at a loss to explain why Thome hit so poorly in 2004 w/ RISP. No protection from Bell and Burrell? A decline in ability? Or simple luck?

(Anyone know what Thome hit w/ RISP in 2003? In 2002? I’d love to know.)

Clutch hitting circa 2004. More tomorrow on the current state of baseball, the Phillies and the Eagles chances in the playoffs.

(4) comments

Monday, December 20, 2004

Weekend notes... 

First, let’s start with the Phillies news … Welcome back Placido! I was thrilled and surprised to see that Polanco agreed to arbitration with the Phillies. I felt certain that the St. Louis Cardinals would scoop him up to replace Tony Womack and Edgar Renteria in their middle infield, but for some reason they didn’t and Polanco agreed to stay with the Phillies despite the fact that the team has essentially given Chase Utley his job. I couldn’t be happier, or more confused.

So what now? The Phillies have five infielders for four positions. Is Polanco going to be the team’s super-utility man? Given that he’s probably the best glove the Phillies have, it seems a little silly to have him warming the pine to come in for the ninth inning to record a put-out or two … I still cast my eye to third base and wonder if the Phillies could move Bell. Naturally, Bell’s four year, $17 million dollar deal makes him a little difficult to move, but …

… what about Los Angeles? The Dodgers lost Beltre to the Mariners in free agency and are poised to deal Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks. They need another bat for their lineup and third base is open. I doubt Paul DePodesta would make the deal, but I was surprised that they didn’t ink an agreement with Beltre.

On to the baseball news … the shockwave of the Hudson and Mulder deals are still reverberating through the baseball world. Aaron Gleeman and Brian Gunn (of the defunct Redbird Nation) both weigh in at THT and it surprised me that they weren’t more critical of Billy Beane & Co. Dealing Hudson makes a little sense, but dealing Mulder makes exactly zero sense: he’s still under contract for 2005 and for 2006. Unless his arm injury is worse than generally known, Mulder could be a productive pitcher for the A’s for another two years. Why not keep him for the 2005 season? I also question the timing of the deals. Why in the off-season? Why not deal Mulder in the regular season to a team in contention that needs pitching help. They’d pay a lot of cash for an ace hurler like Mulder.

I admire Beane and DePodesta a lot, but I just don’t see how the A’s and Dodgers improved this offseason: the acqusition of Kendall is more than offset by Mulder and Hudson’s departures, and I don’t see the Dodgers adding much to their lineup even with Jeff Kent now that Green and Beltre are going, going, gone. When DePodesta swung his deal with the Florida Marlins during the regular season most regular baseball writers blasted him while internet guys bowed in admiration. I’ve noticed that the admiration amongst internet writers is muted, and most baseball writers are scratching their heads, wondering what they are missing.

Odds ‘n Ends … Nice to see the Eagles flying high at 13-1, although T.O.’s injury in the third quarter almost gave me a heart-attack. Will he be back? I think not for the regular season, but we’ll see T.O. in a month, during the divisional round of the playoffs. Let’s hope the rust doesn’t set in … But this should be a happy day for Eagles fans. Thirteen wins is a franchise record, and there is no reason why the Eagles can’t run the table and go 15-1: the Bengals are out of it, and the Rams look like ghosts of the old team. Even without T.O., even playing the backups for most of the next two games, the Eagles should win out.

This is a huge victory for Andy Reid, by the way. Under his leadership the Eagles are 64-30, 59-19 if you ignore the 1999 season. No team has been a dominant in the regular season as the Eagles have been from 2000-2004. That’s five consecutive years with eleven wins or better and three consecutive years with the best record in the NFC … In the last three years the Eagles have gone 16-2 against the NFC East: they’ve beaten the Giants four straight times, haven’t lost to the Redskins since 2001 (six straight wins), and have beaten the Cowboys in nine of the last ten games they’ve played. Ouch … To anyone who says Donovan McNabb isn’t an elite quarterback or doesn’t rise when the pressure is on, look at McNabb on the Eagles game-winning TD drive: leading an offense still reeling from T.O.’s injury, McNabb tucked the ball in and twice ran for critical first downs to set up Levens TD run. McNabb is the most complete QB in the game. I like Peyton Manning, I like Dante Culpepper, and I like Michael Vick, but each of them has flaws: Manning is too immobile, and Culpepper and Vick are too inconsistent to be top-flight QB’s. The only QB better than McNabb in the game today is Tom Brady … On a sour note, let’s hope that the Eagles deal Todd Pinkston in the off-season. He’s shirked from tough hits in consecutive weeks. He isn’t tough enough to be the Eagles No. 2 guy …

The rest of the NFL … I realized with amazement that there is a certainty this year that an 8-8 team, or a 7-9 team, will make the playoffs. In all liklihood the Seahawks will take the NFC West and the Vikings will make it as a wildcard or a division champ, along with the Packers, Eagles and Falcons. That means that the final wildcard will come from the ranks of the currently 6-8, or possibly from the ranks of the 5-9. Please let me express my outrage at the idea that a team with a losing record could possibily have a chance to play for the Super Bowl. I know the Rams, Panthers or Saints would probably be easy pickings for the Eagles, Falcons and Packers, but it is the principle of the thing. I think the NFL should require teams to have .500 records to make the playoffs. If not, then shrink the conference playoff picture to reflect that fact: eliminate the six seed and just play the two wildcard teams … I feel, in my bones, that Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville is going to be between the Eagles and Steelers. In years past I’ve looked at the Steelers teams that made the AFC Championship game and thought: how did they get there? No team with Kordell Stewart at QB can legitimately claim to be the best in the NFL. Sure enough, the Steelers lost to superior teams: the Broncos in ’97, and the Pats in ’01. This year is different: I think the Patriots have a superior coaching staff than Pittsburgh (never been a fan of Bill Cowher), but man-for-man, the Steelers are more talented than the Patriots. Roethlisberger isn’t as good as Brady, but Big Ben has a better supporting cast. If the AFC Championship game is played at Heinz Field, as I suspect it will be, I’d put money on the Steelers winning it. As for the Eagles, again I think things are different this year than in years past and it isn’t just the T.O. factor. I think the ’01 team wasn’t quite ready for primetime, so I wasn’t surprised when they lost to the Rams. I think the ’02 team was better than the Bucs, but they played scared and McNabb’s rust from his injury cost them the game. Last year’s team was a fluke: a product of Reid and Johnson’s genius at maximizing marginal players. The ’03 team didn’t deserve to play in the NFC title game: they just weren’t that good … the ’04 team is a different story. Is there any doubt that this is the best team in the NFC? They are 11-0 against conference foes, they play tight against the run with Trotter in the middle, they are the stingiest defense in the NFL in points allowed … this is the best the NFC has to offer. I’ll be shocked if the Eagles don’t win the NFC title game.

TV: nice plot twist on Desperate Housewives last night (I refer to Bree’s husband’s extracurricular activities). As for Paul and his son, I have a feeling that the big secret there is that Paul is the one who killed the girl, and that is why he’s terrified of his son undergoing counseling … I’ve been seeing lots of promos for Alias and 24. I’m glad to see that 24 had ditched a WMD plot for year four. Last year was too much. It felt like the plot controlled the show. Same thing with Alias: the mystery of what happened to Sydney and Vaughn’s wife’s big secret highjacked the show. I’m glad to hear that J.J. Abrams is going to make the show more character-driven in year four.

More tomorrow…

(3) comments

More D-fens.... 

While I was back at my parents home in Downingtown I snared my copies of George Will’s two baseball books, Men At Work and Bunts. I hadn’t read or thought much about either since I began blogging, but I was curious about what I’d think about both books in light of the evolution in my thinking (namely reading Moneyball and watching the 2004 season unfold) this year. I paged through the index in both books and read all of Will’s entries on Bill James (he specifically talked about James in a 1983 column republished in Bunts on pages 54-56), but found myself drawn to Will’s chapter on defense in Men At Work. (Pages 235-292.)

As everyone who follows A Citizen’s Blog knows, I’ve been doing a lot of work of late on the subject of defense and how it is a critical lynchpin in the Phillies success … or lack thereof. This is a subject not much discussed or recognized in baseball: e.g., look in the Inquirer during the season and check out the Phillies season stats. You’ll see the whole smorgasbord of batting stats (home runs, runs, RBIs, doubles, batting average), and the pitching stats (wins, losses, saves, ERA, strikeouts), but when have you ever seen fielding percentage listed? To illustrate how under-rated defense is in baseball, Will quoted the Washington Post’s Tom Boswell in Men At Work as saying that defense is “the cognoscenti corner of baseball, the poorly lighted room in the gallery.” (p. 274) It is a subject Will clearly enjoyed writing about: in contrast to his chapters on managing, hitting and pitching, the chapter on defense is his most aggressive and authoritative. (Though curiously, while Will devotes one of the chapters in Men At Work to the subject, it is the shortest of the four chapters, and there is no entry in the Index of Bunts for “defense”.) Will described Men At Work as an “antiheroic” book, a book that railed against the individual as master of baseball. (Will is no libertarian: his brand of conservatism is oriented towards the importance of communities rather than the autonomy of individuals.) Defense, Will argues, is the most team-like part of the game (p. 240), and Will exaults the primacy of the team over the individual.

I'll return to Men At Work in the moment, but back to the Phillies ... first off, thank goodness for Google: I’ve been doing a little research on fielding win shares on the 'net and here is what I’ve turned up thanks to google's search engine...

I was able to find a site that had the Phillies 2003 Fielding Win Shares: namely THT's Studes outstanding Baseballgraphs.com (Click here for Baseball Graphs 2003 Win Shares page.) Here they are and their variances with each player’s 2004 performance …

2003 Fielding Win Shares (2004 Fielding Win Shares & 2004 increase / decrease are in parentheses):

1B Thome: 2.4 (1.4 / -1.0)
2B Polanco: 5.6 (5.8 / +0.2)
SS Rollins: 7.9 (4.9 / -3.0)
3B Bell: 3.1 (4.4 / +1.3)
RF Abreu: 2.9 (3.8 / +0.9)
LF: Burrell: 2.2 (2.7 / +0.5)
CF Byrd: 3.7 (2.6 / -0.9)
C Lieberthal: 1.2 (3.7 / +2.5)

IF Utley: 1.7 (2.0 / +0.3)
IF Perez: 2.6 (1.3 / -1.3)
IF Houston: 0.5 (n/a)
IF Punto: 1.1 (n/a)
OF Michaels: 0.4 (2.5 / +2.1)
OF Ledee: 1.1 (1.1 / 0
C Pratt: 0.4 (1.3 / +0.9)
Team: 36.8 (39.3 / +2.5)

-One thing that jumped out at me was the remarkable fact that the Phillies entire 2003 roster basically came back in 2004 intact. No trades, no free agent defections, nothing. Nick Punto and Tyler Houston were gone, but nobody important left or was added since 2003. Team stability is a good thing, but as someone commented on A Citizen's Blog a while back, teams need to change and evolve or they suffer the fate of the 2004 Seattle Mariners.

-Total, the Phillies logged 39.3 Win Shares in 2004 with their gloves and 36.8 in 2003.

-If you go by Win Shares, Rollins 2004 was worse (significantly) in the field then his 2003. Here's the way he measured up defensively from 2002-2004 statistically:

2004 / 2003 / 2002
Fpct: .986 / .979 / .980
ZR: .858 / .840 / .861
Errors: 9 / 14 / 14
RF: 4.01 / 4.42 / 4.58
(Range Factor: Put-Outs + Assists / Innings = Range Factor)

(I didn't bother with fielding win shares per 1,000 innings because Rollins played essentially the same number of innings both years: 1,376 in 2004 and 1,357 in 2003.)

Of course, Rollins had a total of 18.5 Win Shares in 2003, so just 10.7 came via his bat. Rollins was much, much better offensively in 2004: 20.8 Win Shares offensively, giving him a total of 25.7 Win Shares, a 7.2 increase over 2003. Rollins doubled his offensively contribution at the plate.

As I said there was remarkable stability from 2003-2004 (and it appears little will happen to team chemistry in 2005 as well), but the 2002 team was a little different. The Phillies old infield of Scott Rolen, Travis Lee, Marlon Anderson and Jimmy Rollins is just a little different these days. For a little comparison, here are the Phillies 2002 Fielding Win Shares, according to the website Baseball Truth.com:

Lee: 2.1
Rollins: 6.5
Anderson: 3.7
Rolen: 3.6
Polanco: 2.4
Burrell: 2.0
Glanville: 2.2
Abreu: 2.2
Lieberthal: 5.7

Pratt: 1.7
Estrada: 0.3
Perez: 2.1
Ledee: 0.9
Byrd: 0.1
Hollins: 0.1
Giambi: 0.4
Michaels: 0.2

-Here's how Rolen and Polanco stacked up against each other defensively:

Rolen: 4.1 fielding win shares per 1,000 innings / .820 ZR
Polanco: 5.0 fielding win shares per 1,000 innings / .834 ZR

-One interesting part of the defense chapter in Men At Work was a chart Will had tabulating the percentages of balls put into play to each portion of the field. I tried to see if I could do the same via ESPN's fielding stats, but I quickly realized that couldn't, in part because ESPN defines "total chances" as handling the ball in any manner on the play and since first basemen handle the ball on 6-3, 5-3 and 4-3 groundouts, they handle a disproportionate amount of chances.

It's a shame, because I'm curious how the ball get distributed at Citizens compared with other MLB parks. Anyway, here is Will's chart:
C: 1%
P: 6%
1B: 10%
2B: 13%
SS: 15%
3B: 12%
LF: 13%
CF: 18%
RF: 12%

I think this highlights an important reason why I think Polanco needs to get re-signed: the middle defense (SS, 2B, CF) is 46% of your total chances. If the ball is put into play every other time it is going to be handled by just three of your nine fielders. So it is important to be strong up the middle.

Rollins: 3.6 FWS per 1,000 / .858 ZR
Utley: 3.9 FWS per 1,000 / .864 ZR
Polanco: 5.6 FWS per 1,000 / .816 ZR
Glanville: 5.1 FWS per 1,000 / .870 ZR
Michaels: 4.1 FWS per 1,000 / .844 ZR
Byrd: 3.5 FWS per 1,000 / .846 ZR

I think the Phillies are basically strong up the middle.

As I said, the problem with using "total chances" is that first basemen handle the ball on routine groundouts, so it makes evaluating the dispersal numbers difficult. Here's what I got:

2004 Total Chances (excluding first basemen):
2B: 857
SS: 664
3B: 505
RF: 354
LF: 315
CF: 431

It was a little easier to evaluate how the ball got dispursed in the outfield:

2004 (%)/ 2003 (%) / 2002 (%) / 2001 (%)
LF:
315 (29%) / 298 (29%) / 302 (31%)/ 303 (27%)
CF: 431 (39%) / 381 (38%) / 370 (38%) / 469 (42%)
RF: 354 (32%) / 333 (33%) / 307 (31%) / 341 (31%)
Total: 1,100 / 1,012 / 979 / 1,113

Conclusions: as I've said defense is an interesting topic, the stats I listed here are mostly presented without conclusions because I am still piecing together what it all means. What I love about defense as a topic is vague it is: you can't easily assign numbers to these things. Subjectivity is what we see with defense, instinct an almost undefinable and impossible to assign a number to. In Men At Work, Will criticized Bill James' Range Factor as part of “attempts to put artificial precision into a subject that will not hold still for such precision. It is an attempt to attach a numerical value to an activity in which the explanatory value of the number is largely vitiated by the number of variables involved.” (p.273) (To prove the point Will puts in a table showing the defensive stats of a 1989 Mets-Phillies game where no players made any assists: all of the outs were line-drives to infielders, flyouts to outfielders or strikeouts.) (Oh, and here is a link to the box score from that game that I found at Retrosheet.org.) Will himself spent a great deal of time in the book trying to use statistics to show what a terrific shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., was, but he's right: precision elludes us when it comes to rating defense.

But it's still fun to try...

(Check back later today for my thoughts on the Mulder deal and the Eagles 12-7 victory over the Cowboys...)

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