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January 4 2007

The Phillies' bench didn't really shine with the bat in 2006.  It wasn't for lack of opportunity, however.  Phillies' hitters went 57-for-272 (.210) as pinch hitters, hitting three home runs and driving in 29 runs.  The 272 at-bats for pinch hitters was the second-most in the league, but the 563 OPS (210/262/301) was 15th-best of the 16 teams.  Only the Mets' pinch-hitters were less productive offensively, and New York at least had the good sense to limit them to 214 at-bats.

The combination of having your pinch-hitters get more at-bats than most other teams and being less productive is definitely not a keeper.

Here's a look at some of the players who got the most at-bats as pinch-hitters in 2006 (the stats for Jose Hernandez include his time with the Pirates):

 

Player AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Dellucci 60 267 313 467 780
J Hernandez 39 231 302 308 610
A Nunez 39 128 171 179 350
Victorino 38 237 293 289 582
R Simon 21 238 304 238 542
Sandoval 18 167 211 222 433

That's miserable.  But was it predicable?  Dellucci is a good hitter who didn't hit well as a pinch-hitter last season.  Nunez, Victorino, Simon and Sandoval could have been expected to struggle in their 116 pinch hit at-bats.  The opening day lineup certainly isn't complete, but it seems sure the Phils won't have as good a hitter as Dellucci on the bench to give pinch hit at-bats to in '07.

Dellucci-free or no, this is actually one place I think the Phillies' offense will be better in 2007.  While whoever it is that turns out to get the most pinch hit at-bats likely will not be as good a hitter as Dellucci, he is certainly capable of putting up similar numbers to those Dellucci put up last season.  And the bench is almost certain to be deeper.  Whoever the second-best hitter on the bench turns out to be, whether it's Werth or Coste or the left-handed outfielder the Phillies don't have yet, he seems sure to be able to out produce the 128/171/179 line from Nunez in his 39 pinch hit at-bats last season.

Chris Reitsma's agent says his client is seriously considering an offer from Colorado.

An article on the Phillies' web site reviews the team's catching situation. 

The 2007 editions of the Baseball America Almanac and Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster are now available.

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