Thursday, January 31, 2008
The Phillies signed David Bell in 2003 to fill the void, but Bell was a disaster offensively at the plate (though a superstar with his glove). In 2007 the team wanted to turn over a new leaf, but they didn't get it.
Simply put, the Phillies are getting awful production from their third baseman and the problems reached a nadir here in the Post-Scott Rolen, Post-David Bell era.
Wes Helms. Abraham Nunez. Greg Dobbs. Russell Branyan. These were the faces the Phillies tried to utilize to fill the void Bell and Rolen’s departures have caused. How well did they do? No team in baseball, aside from maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates, got worse production from their third basemen.
While division rivals Marlins (i.e. Miguel Cabrera), the Mets (i.e., David Wright) and the Braves (i.e. Chipper Jones) ranked #1, #2 and #3 respectively in OPS for third basemen in 2007, the Phillies ranked sixteenth of sixteen teams:
NL East 3B OPS: (rank)
Marlins: .956 (1st)
Mets: .951 (2nd)
Braves: .944 (3rd)
Nationals: .794 (7th)
Phillies: .688 (16th)
The Phillies 3B’s also ranked sixteenth in runs scored, fourteenth in RBIs, fifteenth in home runs and sixteenth in extra-base hits. They did well in an area where nobody wants to do well: the Phillies 3B’s ranked third in grounding into double plays. Helms, for example, hit .246 (.297 OBP), with just five home runs and thirty-nine RBI, while grounding into ten double plays. Here comes Pedro Feliz, who signed a two-year deal worth a little over $8 mil to play for the Phillies. The right-handed hitting Feliz had an OPS of just .708 in 2007. The problem with Feliz’s game is that he’s a free-swinger who doesn’t bother to work counts. He saw just 3.3 pitches per plate appearance in 2007. It shows in his OBP, which has been below .300 for the last three seasons:
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
Isolated Power (ISO): .SLG - .BA = .ISO. Measures a player’s raw power by subtracting singles from their slugging percentage.
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.
Runs Created (RC): A stat originally created by Bill James to measure a player’s total contribution to his team’s lineup. Here is the formula: [(H + BB + HBP - CS - GIDP) times ((S * 1.125) + (D * 1.69) + (T * 3.02) + (HR * 3.73) + (.29 * (BB + HBP – IBB)) + (.492 * (SB + SF + SH)) – (.04 * K))] divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH+ SF).
RC/27: Runs Created per 27 outs, essentially what a team of 9 of this player would score in a hypothetical game.
This is, simply put, awful. Wes Helms, who flopped at third base after the Phillies signed him from the Marlins, posted a better OBP … The no-hitting Abraham Nunez had a better OBP too: .318 … What Feliz brings to the table that Nunez and, to a lesser extent Helms and Dobbs lack, is power. Not a lot of power, mind you, but more than what the Phillies have been seeing from their third basemen. Feliz’s isolated power at the plate (ISO) was .165 in 2007. The Phillies 3B’s had an ISO of .113, so unquestionably Feliz would be an upgrade, if his 2004-2007 performances hold steady. He’s a consistent 30+ double / 20+ home run hitter.
According to the 2008 Bill James Handbook, Feliz will hit 18 home runs and 70 RBI for the Phillies in 2008. Feliz will have 59 Runs Created, which is basically what he’s done for the last several seasons, or 4.26 Runs Created per 27 Outs. These aren’t great numbers, and would make Feliz one of the Phillies weakest offensive performers, but they are better than those Wes Helms or Abraham Nunez would have given the Phillies in 2008. For the record, Helms projects at 5.02 and Nunez at 3.17.
So the bottom-line is that I'm not impressed by Feliz's skills. Why am I not unhappy with the Phillies decision to sign him? Well, given that Feliz will be hitting #7 or #8 in the lineup, Feliz's ability to draw walks and get on base isn't all that important. Drawing a walk with two outs and the pitcher on-deck is tantamont to gauranteeing that J.Roll will lead-off the next inning. It isn't setting up Cole Hamels for an RBI situation. Down in the lower spots of the lineup you need someone with a little pop to their bat to sting the opposition with a solo-shot home run, because you aren't really setting your team up for the big inning when the pitcher is going to bat. Feliz's ability to slug the ball is superior to that of Helms and Nunez, so this is a signing that makes a lot of sense. If he hits a few more solo home runs than Nunez & Helms, his presence will help the Phillies offense. I think Feliz will hit 25-to-30 home runs in 2008. He may only have 65-70 RBI, but he'll sting the opposition with a few late home runs and that might help the Phillies here and there.
Welcome to Philly, Pedro Feliz.
"According to the 2008 Bill James Handbook, Feliz will hit 18 home runs and 70 RBI for the Phillies in 2008. Feliz will have 59 Runs Created, which is basically what he’s done for the last several seasons, or 4.26 Runs Created per 27 Outs. These aren’t great numbers, and would make Feliz one of the Phillies weakest offensive performers, but they are better than those Wes Helms or Abraham Nunez would have given the Phillies in 2008. For the record, Helms projects at 5.02 and Nunez at 3.17."
How is Feliz's 4.26 is better than Helms' 5.02?
Feliz has better range than any of the Phils' previous third basemen. He is solid defensive player, some would say the best in the game last year.
You also ignore the fact that the Phils are very strong offensively at both SS and 2B, which are traditionally bereft of power and high averages. So, the need for a power-hitting, high average 3B is not as pressing as a lot of Phillies' fans are making it out to be.
Bottom line, Feliz improves their IF. Now if they could just do the same with middle-relief and the #5.
I think the Phils scrambled to find someone and made a poor choice. I really don't like any move Gillick has made recently.
I see Felix almost like the Barajas signing, as I would say to Howie on Deal or No Deal, "No Deal"
Man, I can't wait to see this. Please hit him eighth, Charlie.
If he gets the 30+ doubles and 20+ Hrs then it will be worth it on offense.
His presence also means that Manuel will not make 2-3 moves nearly every game to switch out 3B. Thus they improve the bench with Dobbs being part time 3B and super Utility guy. That alone may help the Phils win a few more with more bench players available later in the game to pinch hit.
So improve: Defense and Bench, while Offense is nearly a wash.