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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Friday, July 15, 2005

Fun With Win Shares 

First I want to comment on last night’s 13-7 win over the Florida Marlins: I think Charlie Manuel’s decision to move Bobby Abreu to cleanup is

A) Long-overdue, and
B) just the thing to spark this team

Abreu is the Phillies hottest batter right now so he's just the man to drive in those runs. I also love seeing Chase batting third: with Abreu and Burrell behind him he ought to see a lot of good pitches and he can work on developing his eye a little. I like the new lineup: I see a Murderers Row developing, particularly if Thome returns and gets back to something approaching his old skills: each of these guys could be a 30 home run, 100 RBI guy.

Anyway, back to our topic for today: Win Shares, developed by baseball stat guru Bill James as a means of encapsulating a player’s contribution to his team’s fortunes, are always a fun stat to look at and argue about.

Here are the Phillies Top Ten Win Shares contributors.

Total Win Shares:
Bobby Abreu – 19
Pat Burrell – 13
Chase Utley – 11
Jimmy Rollins – 10
Brett Myers – 9
Billy Wagner – 8
Cory Lidle – 8
Kenny Lofton – 8
Jason Michaels – 8
Placido Polanco – 7

I'm mildly surprised to see Jimmy Rollins fourth on this list - he certainly isn't playing well in my opinion and his defense isn't so good that he's helping the team with his glove. He’s tenth in Fielding Win Shares amongst NL Shortstops.

As for Burrell, Abreu and Utley, they are the Phillies stars this season, a combined 15 Win Shares above their expected total. What is surprising is who isn't there: David Bell and Jim Thome aren't in the Phillies Top Ten. Thome has four Win Shares in his limited playing time. He's struggling at the plate and has always been a defensive liability, so his meager 4 isn't surprising.

Bell also has four, but what's interesting about Bell's Win Shares is where they come from:

Fielding: 2.6
Batting: 1.9

Bell is actually leading the team in Fielding Win Shares, though Utley edges him out when you adjust for innings played:

FWS per 1,000 Innings:
Utley: 3.89
Bell: 3.67

Clearly the best thing that David Bell has going for him is his glove, a point that I've made a few times here in A Citizen's Blog.

As a point of comparison, here are the Phillies 2004 Win Shares:

Abreu - 37
Rollins - 26
Thome - 22
Bell - 20
Polanco - 17
Burrell - 15
Michaels - 11
Madson - 9
Wagner - 9
Lieberthal - 9

I think I'd be pointing out the obvious if I stated that Thome and Bell's 42 Win Shares won't be equaled this season (currently: 8). Thome's decline is partly explained by his injuries, but Bell's decline is truly staggering. He almost certainly won't crack double digits this season in Win Shares, a tremendous decline over last year. Bell's performance has baleful implications for the Phillies play at third base in 2006, the final year in his deal.

There you go, Fun With Win Shares. I haven't discussed them in a while, so you can count on this being a recurring topic in the not-so-distant future.

Tune in Monday for some more discussions of the Phillies: I'll have comments on their series with the Marlins. They have nine more consecutive home games until July 25th. So far they are 3-1 on this home-stand.

It's always interesting to see how the numbers you post line up with how the average fan perceives what's happening.

I assume others have seen the article about the Phillies shopping Thome. Not to get off topic, but does anyone else have thoughts on that?

I say let him go and the Phillies offer to pay 60% of his salary. Maybe we get a prospect back, which is something we really need considering how Ed Wade has dealt prospect after prospect for aging, ineffective rent-a-relievers. Then Howard plays every day. Howard's salary plus the 60% of Thome's salary will still be less than what the Phillies would pay Thome, plus they're going to get more production from Howard at this point than Thome. Thome's injuries the last two years combined with his age make his contract too restrictive. He needs to go - I'm waiting for a lightning bolt to strike me, but it's true.
And don't overlook Utley's willingness and ability to do what is necessary to advance the runner to set up scoring opportunities. On Thursday, l believe it was, Utley hit a funky chopper just over the pitcher towards second base which advanced the runners who subsequently scored on a hit and sac fly (if I recall correctly). And Utley did that with 2 strikes. He doesn't panic, shortens his swing and gets the job done.

Let's also hope that Howard sticks around too. I see in him the same kind of patient, thoughtful approach to hitting.
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