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July 12 2006

Pat Burrell rolls into the All-Star break hitting a scary .231 against right-handed pitching.  It's his worst mark against right-handed pitching since his wretched 2003 season, when he managed to hit just .212 against righties and curiously couldn't hit lefties either (198/305/369).  Coming off of a year in 2005 where he absolutely killed left-handed pitching (318/442/552), he's been even better this year against southpaws:  295/450/654.  Hitting .231 against righties limits how effective you can be as a left fielder who can't field very well, however.  Burrell came up with a nice year overall in '05 by hitting well enough against righties (267/367/485) to get by and finished 2005 in the top ten in the league in walks, RBI and times on base.  Even with his struggles against righties this year, Burrell is on pace to hit 35 home runs and drive in 108.

The problem that Burrell is having has been typical of his career -- he kills lefties and struggles against righties.  Rowand has struggled offensively in 2006 and his problems have been anything but typical.  He isn't hitting lefties at all, which is a problem for the Phillies given he's the second best right-handed bat in their lineup.  Including this season, Rowand's career numbers against lefties (291/351/493) are, as you would expect, much better than his numbers against righties (275/326/428).  In 2006 his line against lefties is a wretched 212/274/409.

Bobby Abreu leads the NL in walks.  By a lot.  He has 83 and only one other player in the league (Bonds, with 74) has more than 70.  Abreu has been in the top five in the NL in walks in five of the last seven years, but has never lead the league.  Like Rowand, Abreu's splits at the break are odd.  After a career in which he has, as you would expect, hit righties much better (311/426/551) than lefties (279/378/403) he's at 333/453/527 against lefties and 273/444/438 against righties.  If the trend continues throughout the year, particularly odd will be the huge drop in slugging against righties and the unusual surge against lefties.  In each of the last five years, Abreu has slugged much better against righties than lefties, sometimes dramatically.  In 2001 he slugged .608 against righties and .365 against lefties and in 2003 .378 against lefties and .509 against righties.  It's an odd trend and it has Bobby on a pace for his lowest slugging percentage overall since 1997.  Abreu has one home run in his last 126 at-bats.

Having said all that, the Phillies outfield is a huge investment in terms of payroll, but it's good.  The salaries of their outfielders may be an issue, but their production is not what's wrong with the Phillies.  There are some issues -- Rowand has been a disappointing offensively and Burrell is in a horrible stretch.  He has just one home run in his last 55 at-bats and is hitting .231 in July after hitting .194 in June.  He's slugging .269 in his eight games in July.  Overall, however, the outfield, along with the right side of their infield, is the offensive strength of the team.

Here's how the Phillies outfielders compare to other outfielders in the NL East, based on their runs created per 27 outs at the All-Star break.

 

Left
Player Team RC/27
Soriano WAS 6.72
Burrell PHI 6.46
Willingham FLA 6.02
Floyd NYM 5.59
Langerhans ATL 4.63

 

Center
Player Team RC/27
Beltran NYM 8.62
Jones ATL 6.17
Rowand PHI 4.58
Byrd WAS 3.52
Abercrombie FLA 3.21

 

Right
Player Team RC/27
Abreu PHI 8.21
Hermida FLA 5.75
Nady NYM 5.20
Francoeur ATL 3.94
Guillen WAS 3.34

 

Combined Outfield

Team Left Center Right Total
NYM 5.59 8.62 5.20 19.41
PHI 6.64 4.58 8.21 19.25
FLA 6.02 3.21 5.75 14.98
ATL 4.63 6.17 3.94 14.74
WAS 6.72 3.52 3.34 13.58

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