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April 17 2007

Here's a look at the offense the Phillies are getting at each position through the first 11 games of 2007 compared to what they got last year, using OPS as the measure:

 

   2006 2007
Pos OPS NL Rank OPS NL Rank
C 793 5 720 6
1B 1.063 1 831 7
2B 888 1 874 4
3B 684 15 679 10
SS 804 4 1.177 1
LF 896 5 828 9
CF 756 5 838 4
RF 816 6 647 13

Using OPS as the measure, the Phillies are producing less offensively in 2007 at every position except for shortstop and center field. 

At four positions, first, second, short and center, one player has gotten virtually all of the action.  Victorino has gotten one plate appearance while playing center field, but Rowand has gotten the rest.  Howard, Utley and Rollins have gotten all of them at the other three positions.

The other four positions have seen the Phillies use several players.  Here's who have been getting the plate appearances:

 

C   3B
  PA % of PA OPS     PA % of PA OPS
Total 48 100 720   Total 53 100 679
Ruiz 29 60.4 845   Helms 36 67.9 756
Barajas 19 39.6 445   Nunez 13 24.5 432
          Dobbs 4 7.5 750
                 

LF

  RF
  PA % of PA OPS     PA % of PA OPS
Total 52 100 828   Total 55 100 647
Burrell 43 82.7 951   Victorino 44 80 650
Werth 5 9.6 200   Werth 10 18.2 708
Bourn 4 7.7 250   Bourn 1 1.8 000

There has been a lot of talk in the early part of season about what exactly is and isn't Charlie Manuel's fault.  Certainly the players have generally struggled and have to take the brunt of the blame for the poor start.  However, when it comes to what players are getting the at-bats at what position, there's really nobody else to look to on the Phillies.  The team's offense has been virtually injury-free, leaving Manuel to basically play whoever he wants.

At catcher Manuel has called on Ruiz significantly more than Barajas.  This comes as a surprise to me -- I expected more time from the veteran Barajas.  Ruiz has played better early.

Amazingly, using OPS as the measure, the Phillies have gotten less offense from third base in '07 than they did in '06.  That's awful.  Too much Nunez, who is one of baseball's worst offense players and certainly doesn't deserve starts at third.

In left field Pat Burrell continues to lose significant numbers of at-bats when Manuel pinch-runs for him in games, sometimes as early as the sixth inning.  Also terrible.  Overall the Phillies' left fielders have posted an 828 OPS while Burrell has posted a 951 OPS.  The Phillies are in the bottom-half of the league at getting offense out of the position despite having one of the position's better hitters.  That problem is compounded with the loss of Abreu in right -- after being in the top half of NL teams in terms of getting offense for their corner outfielders last year, so far in '07 they are in the bottom half at both corner outfield positions.  They are likely to be in the bottom half in right field this year anyway -- at left field they can't afford to be. 

Shane Victorino doesn't have the bat to play one of the corner outfield positions on a regular basis.  I expect that as the year progresses we'll see other players getting more of the time there.

If the Phillies did these three things they would surely score more runs:  leave Burrell in the game, stop starting Nunez at third and play Werth in right field against lefties.  I don't think that is arguable.  They would, of course, also allow more runs as they replaced better defensive players with weaker ones.  They should do it anyway.

No sign they will.

Freddy Garcia makes his debut tonight and is now scheduled to face Tom Glavine.  The Phils play the Nationals in Washington tomorrow night.

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