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July 24 2007

During the dark period of the Phillies' season, by which I mean the middle of last week, before it became clear that JD Durbin had been the missing link lo these 14 years, I became convinced that the Phillies struck out at a higher rate later in the game than they did during the rest of it. 

So I checked.  Turns out they do.  Felt mighty fine, but there's a but and here it comes:  but so does everybody else, and the Phillies' rate late in the game is not particularly unusual compared to the other teams in the National League this season. 

Now that I've peaked your interest by characterizing the numbers as "not unusual", below is a look at the number of plate appearances and strikeouts each of the NL teams have had in innings one-through-six and in the seventh inning or later this season.  Also the percentage of plate appearances that were strikeouts and the difference between the percentage of strikeouts in the early innings and the late innings (doesn't include yesterday's games).

 

  Innings 1-6 Innings 7+  
Team PA K % K PA K % K Diff
MIL 2580 438 16.98 1161 240 20.67 3.70%
ATL 2602 452 17.37 1237 244 19.73 2.35%
CHI 2537 410 16.16 1233 226 18.33 2.17%
CIN 2574 459 17.83 1266 262 20.70 2.86%
HOU 2529 393 15.54 1305 227 17.39 1.85%
LAD 2601 330 12.69 1282 171 13.34 0.65%
WAS 2468 415 16.82 1238 245 19.79 2.97%
NYM 2516 403 16.02 1286 211 16.41 0.39%
               
PHI 2609 448 17.17 1333 258 19.35 2.18%
               
PIT 2473 434 17.55 1215 244 20.08 2.53%
STL 2409 329 13.66 1216 179 14.72 1.06%
SD 2468 477 19.33 1259 281 22.32 2.99%
SF 2461 351 14.26 1255 224 17.85 3.59%
COL 2564 408 15.91 1289 245 19.01 3.09%
FLA 2561 520 20.30 1309 294 22.46 2.16%
ARI 2507 395 15.76 1244 247 19.86 4.10%
               
Total 40459 6662 16.47 20128 3798 18.87 2.40%

All 16 teams have struck out at a higher rate in the later innings than they have in innings one through six.  The Mets come the closest to their early innings mark, having struck out in 16.41% of their plate appearances in the seventh inning or later and 16.02% before the seventh inning.  The Diamondbacks are on the other end of the spectrum, but in the Snakes' defense a lot of those guys are up pretty late on a school night by the time the seventh inning roles around.

If you use the difference between the percentage of plate appearances the team strikes out late in the game and the percentage of plate appearances the team strikes out early in the game as the measure, nine NL teams are seeing their rate of strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances increase more late in the game than the Phils are this year.

The Phillies play the Washington Nationals tonight, starting a six-game stretch at home against two of the worst teams in the National League.  The Pirates are in for three after the Nats.  Kyle Kendrick (4-1, 4.40) faces righty Jason Bergmann (2-5, 4.46) tonight.  Kendrick has given the Phillies five quality starts in his seven outings.  He has been very tough on righties and hit hard by lefties.  Righties are hitting .203 against him with an 0.86 ratio, lefties .341 with 1.81 ratio.  He's walked just 11 in 43 innings, but allowed six home runs, five of which have been hit by lefties.  Bergmann has made 13 starts for the Nationals and allowed just 59 hits in 72 2/3 innings.   Like Kendrick, he's been tremendous against righties and hit hard by lefties.  Righties are hitting .172 against him with an 0.89 ratio, lefties .274 with a 1.58 ratio.  He's allowed ten home runs in his 13 starts, eight of which have been hit by lefties.  He's made two starts against the Phillies already this season, in 12 1/3 innings he's allowed four earned runs (2.92 ERA) on eight hits and three walks.  Utley and Howard have combined to go 1-for-10 against him this year, with a double by Utley.  He faced the Phils on April 18 and April 24.

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