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July 11 2006

Kudos to Ryan Howard for his victory in last night's home run derby.  Say what you will about the Phillies, but they sure can hit a batting practice home run.  If he goes into a second half swoon the likes of which we saw from Bobby Abreu after his derby win last year the Phillies may declare a moratorium on batting practice of any kind.  After slugging .569 before the All-Star break in 2004, and .515 after it, Abreu went into the contest last year slugging .556.  He put on an impressive show but slugged a meager .411 after the break in 2005 and is at just .467 in 2006.  He's still just 32 but is on a pace this year to hit just 15 home runs, which would be the lowest total for any year in his career in which he got 200 at-bats. 

I'm having trouble getting geeked up for the All-Star game.  The AL is so much better and I hate the home field advantage in the World Series for the winner.  It's an exhibition, but apparently Bud Selig thinks everyone except himself should take it seriously.  How serious is it to the commish?  Well, in 2002 he called the game a tie.  If it's an exhibition do whatever you want -- if it's a baseball game let's figure out something else. 

Home field advantage in the World Series is a big deal.  The All-Star game is managed by guys who may be managing in the World Series, so it puts them in a position where they need to try to win the game using (or misusing) players from other teams.  Ozzie Guillen should, and will, try to win the game.  It matters to the White Sox.  It matters more than whether he lets some other team's reliever throw longer than he should.

Yesterday's look at how the left side of the infield was doing offensively didn't go so well.  Let's try something else.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have been tremendous offensively for the Phillies in the first 87 games.  They are tied for the team lead in total bases with 184 and have combined to hit 44 home runs. 

Howard's 28 bombs tie him for second in the NL and he's slugging a remarkable .582, good enough for fifth in the league despite having just 11 extra-bases hits that were not home runs.  He's slugging .656 against righties. 

Utley has been the best offensive second baseman in all of baseball so far this season.  After starting the year scuffling to hit for any power against lefties, his splits at the break are outstanding, 330/427/481 versus lefties and 305/352/547 against righties.  This is coming off of another solid offensive year where he hit just .219 against left-handed pitching.  After exploding last year for 28 home runs and 105 RBI, Utley has made sure everyone understands it's not a fluke in 2006.  He's on pace for about 30 home runs and 100 RBI. 

Here's a look at the runs created per 27 outs for some of the second basemen of the NL East:

 

Player Team RC/27
Utley PHI 7.42
Uggla FLA 6.79
Valentin NYM 5.75
Vidro WAS 5.10
Giles ATL 4.63

And the first basemen:

 

Player Team RC/27
Johnson WAS 8.32
Howard PHI 6.97
Delgado NYM 6.27
Jacobs FLA 5.83
LaRoche ATL 5.42

And combined:

 

Team 2B 1B Total
PHI 7.42 6.97 14.39
WAS 5.10 8.32 13.42
FLA 6.79 5.83 12.62
NYM 5.75 6.27 12.02
ATL 4.63 5.42 10.05

If only they could field.

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