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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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Focus on RISP … 

As I noted in my post on the State of the Phillies on Monday, the Phillies haven’t been creating many opportunities and they haven’t been capitalizing on them either. The team OBP is thirteenth in the National League, a far cry from the recent past, where the Phillies have been one of the top four teams in that category. So the Phillies haven’t been creating opportunities to score by getting runners on base. Conversely, when the Phillies do get runners in position to score they are maddeningly inefficient at getting them home. In fact, the Phillies are the worst team in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position (BA/RISP).

11. Mets: .259
12. Brewers: .259
13. Nationals: .253
14. Reds: .247
15. Cubs: .242
16. Phillies: .235
League: .266

Here is how the Phillies are doing individually:

Utley: .358
Abreu: .347
Lieberthal: .286
Rollins: .255
Howard: .228
Rowand: .228
Bell: .210
Burrell: .205
Dellucci: .200
Victorino: .194
Fasano: .083
Team: .235

Incidentially, the Phillies pitchers are surrendering .279 BA/RISP. The league average is .266, so the Phillies are really getting the raw end of the deal: they can't hit in the clutch and they are giving up far too many hits.

There are some interesting things that I found looking at the numbers. Let’s start by noting that there is a BIG gulf between Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu and the rest of the team. Both Abreu and Utley are right on the money. Their slugging averages (.680 for Abreu and .612 for Utley) are way up also. Both of these guys really excel with runners at second and third. One of the reasons why I’d hate to see the Phillies deal Bobby Abreu, even though he’d fetch quite a price for the team if he were to be dealt to say … the Detroit Tigers or Chicago White Sox, is that Abreu’s Gross Productive Average (GPA) is a stunning .395 with RISP. His slugging percentage goes from .464 to .680, a .216 point increase, w/RISP. Without him, the Phillies offense would probably grind to a screeching halt. I think that dealing Abreu would be utterly fatal to the Phillies chances of making the playoffs.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
OBP (On-Base Percentage): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
SLG (Slugging Percentage): Power at the plate. (Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage)
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA. Invented by The Hardball Times Aaron Gleeman, GPA measures a players production by weighing his ability to get on base and hit with power. This is my preferred all-around stat.

Now who are the culprits? A few interesting facts emerge. Pat Burrell is hitting .205 BA/RISP, but the OBP is .372, a product of the fact that he’s drawn 24 walks this season with runners on second and third. Are pitchers going around him to pitch to Ryan Howard? Somehow I doubt it, but Burrell does seem to take a lot of pitches. While Abreu has 49 RBIs w/ RISP, Howard has 40, and Utley has 33, Burrell only has 28 RBIs despite nearly twenty more At-Bats than Utley. In fact, most damningly, Burrell has just six more RBIs than the weak-hitting David Bell, despite having twenty-six more At-Bats. Burrell’s .318 slugging percentage w/RISP is worst on the team, aside from Fasano and Victorino, worse than David Bell (.371), Aaron Rowand (.368), and Jimmy Rollins (.455).

Ryan Howard, Home Run Derby champ, is also a culprit here too. Howard has the most At-Bats on the team w/RISP, yet he’s just hitting .228. Interestingly, this isn’t a new thing for Howard. He struggled in 2005 w/RISP, hitting .241. His slugging percentage in 2005, however, was a robust .517. Howard struck out 33 in 87 At-Bats. Thus far in 2006, Howard has K’d 31 times in 92 At-Bats. I wonder what is wrong. Initially, I was going to speculate that Howard was trying to drive the ball too hard this year (someone helpfully pointed that out a few weeks ago) and that was the reason why his batting average was dropping, but that doesn’t seem to be the case: he struck out more often last year (38%) than this year (34%).

As I mentioned above, the Phillies are the worst team in the NL in BA/RISP. Part of the problem that the team is having is that they aren’t producing opportunities to score runs either. The Phillies are dead-last in the NL in At-Bats w/RISP. With those kinds of struggles, there is little hope for the Phillies to produce runs to cover for the fact that the Phillies starting pitching is playing terrible baseball. The Phillies need to start producing opportunities to score and exploiting them if they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs.

I can't help but notice that the Mets are 11th in the league here. They're not THAT much better there...we need to get on base more, period, and we need better pitching.

RISP is annoying, but I don't think it should be looked upon as THE reason we suck.
I think you’re overanalyzing with BA/RISP. First of all, it’s dubious stat anyway and secondly, all the “first tier” offensive stats – runs scored, batting average, OBP, OPS are weak so it’s hardly unexpected for BA/RISP to be ugly too. And when you look at the pitching stats, ERA, runs scored, BAA, it’s actually amazing that the Phillies are only 7 games under .500.

The situation isn’t hopeless, the talent is there but doesn’t seem to be able to jell with any consistency. This is a perplexing team
Best regards from NY! » »
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