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.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

No Opportunities… 

As I said a little while ago the Phillies really have a major problem. No team in the National League has been worse at exploiting opportunities at the plate. At present, the Phillies rank dead-last in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position (BA/RISP) at .242:

Brewers: .256
Nats: .253
Reds: .250
Cubs: .243
Phillies: .242
NL average: .268

The Phillies lethal inability to move runners over is only part of the problem. The team really isn’t getting the opportunities to move runners over. The Phillies have the second-fewest At-Bats with runners in scoring position (719) in the NL (the Cubs, with 715, are the only team worse). It is sort of a vicious circle: the fewer runners you get on base, the fewer opportunities you get to bat them home, and the worse you get at batting them home.

Curious, I looked to see how badly the Phillies had declined in terms of OBP from previous seasons. Read and weep:

2006: 11th in NL at .332
2005: 1st in NL at .348
2004: 2nd in NL at .345
2003: 4th in NL at .343
2002: 3rd in NL at .339

For the last four seasons the Phillies have been one of the top quarter of teams in OBP (last year they were the best and by a margin: .009 better than the Marlins), but the decline has been sudden and catastrophic. That decline in the Phillies ability to create opportunities and their batting with runners in scoring position has crippled their offensive production, despite the fact that the Phillies have one of the most powerful offenses in the NL: currently the Phillies are third in the NL in isolated power (ISO) at .173 …

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
OBP (On-Base Percentage): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)

So what is the reason for the Phillies decline? I’m not entirely sure. You certainly cannot blame the Big Four of Ryan Howard (.341 OBP), Pat Burrell (.376 OBP), Chase Utley (.376 OBP) or Bobby Abreu (.447). Abreu’s OBP in particular is astonishing, better than his career high (.446 in 1999) and over thirty points better than his career average (.411). I shudder to think about how badly the Phillies offense would be doing without Abreu at the plate, so I hope those rumors about Bobby being dealt to the Detroit Tigers soon are false.

The fault lies with the supporting cast:

-Jimmy Rollins has an OBP (.323) that is far too low for a lead-off hitter. Ironically, Rollins has done some nice work to lower his strikeouts and make himself into a more patient hitter, but he’s just not there yet: J.Roll’s 3.58 pitches per plate appearance is worse than any other Phillie than Aaron Rowand (3.44) … The irony is that J.Roll really hasn’t done a bad job of drawing walks: his .080 BB/PA is actually pretty respectable. J.Roll’s real problem is that he isn’t hitting well: J.Roll’s BA/BIP is .271, worse than the team average of .294 and the league average of .301 …

-David Bell has been my whipping boy for a while now. In all fairness to Bell, his .334 OBP isn’t that bad. It is slightly better than the team average and right on the league average of .334 … Bell’s .091 BB/PA is also the team average, so he’s doing alright. Bell isn’t doing badly, but he’s still not doing that well …

-Aaron Rowand … well, just read yesterday’s post …

- Sal Fasano / Mike Lieberthal … Along with Aaron Rowand’s struggles, the Phillies have a major, major problem at catcher. Sal Fasano and Mike Lieberthal are really struggling at the plate. Their OBP’s are an identical .284, which one can only describe as absolutely terrible. Beyond terrible. The root of Fasano and Lieberthal’s problem is their inability to draw walks. Lieberthal’s BB/PA is a laughable .011 and Fasano is a .034 … The result is that the Phillies are getting terrible production out of their catchers. Lieberthal’s .284 would easily be his career-worst and nearly sixty points off his .339 career OBP.

Fasano is no surprise. Bottom-line, the man cannot hit. He may be a terrific catcher and he may enhance the team’s pitching staff and defense, but he can’t hit. His career GPA is .238 and his career OBP is .302 … .302! … At the moment the catchers are a major drain on the Phillies offense. Lieberthal’s GPA is a putrid .214 and Fasano’s not much better at .224.

Bottom-line: The Phillies aren’t getting the production they ought to from the supporting cast. The Big Four of Howard, Abreu, Utley and Burrell are fine, but the supporting cast isn’t getting the job done. J.Roll is having bad luck at the plate and needs to be more selective in what he swings at; David Bell is playing well by his standard, which is to say poorly by everyone else’s; Aaron Rowand is hitting badly and is too much of a free-swinger, and the Phillies catchers, Mike Lieberthal and Sal Fasano, are playing terrible baseball. In the off-season the Phillies need to address their problems at third and at the catcher positions if they are going to get back to being formidable in getting people on base.

7 point jump in a week, FWIW
My pet theory on the offense is that they are always playing out of a hole that the pitching has created early on, and so they press and the offense has suffered. I think if the pitching was even league-average, the offense would be much better off.
I was just about to post exactly what Tom G posted.... good work Tom!

The Padilla Trade was the Killer this year. A rotation can deal with one new kid on the block not four.

You come to bat and you are down 2 nothing in the first inning and you press. It is the pressing and trying to hit 2 homeruns in each at bat that have unbalanced us.

The old saying goes... "You can make baby in nine months, but that boy is trying to make 9 babies in one month".

That is the Phillies in a nutshell, not completely the hitters fault.
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