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-The Eastern League in Baseball: A Statistical History, 1923-2005

-Baseball in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching the National Pastime

-Jews And Baseball: A History, 1871-1948

-Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

-Pro Football Prospectus 2006

-Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

 
 
 
 


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October 30 2006

When Bruce Bochy's team of major leaguers takes the field in Japan later this week, Bochy will have an opportunity to field an all NL-East infield that includes four of baseball's most exciting players, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jose Reyes and David Wright.  Two Phillies and two Mets. The cornerstones of two young teams that will be seeing a lot of each other in the years ahead and have the potential to develop a rivalry for the ages if the Phillies can just get good enough.

Who would you rather have to build a team around, Utley and Howard or Reyes and Wright?  The answer may depend on whether you're a Mets fan or a Phillies fan.

The Mets clearly have the two best defensive players of the four.  Here's a look at the offensive numbers from last season:

 
Player AVG OBP SLG OPS RC/27
Reyes 300 354 487 .841 6.56
Wright 311 381 531 .912 7.27
Utley 309 379 527 .906 7.44
Howard 313 425 659 1.084 10.19

Howard was the best offensive player of the four last season.  Reyes the worst.  And between Utley and Wright it's very close -- close enough that if you're comparing them using runs created per 27 outs it depends which of the multiple formulas you use to determine which of the two comes out on top. For example, the formula used at Baseball-Reference has Wright's RC/27 at 7.43, higher than Utley's 7.32, while the formula used here comes up with the numbers listed above.   

Reyes brings a dimension that none of the other three does with his 64 stolen bases.  Wright stole 20 bases himself.  Last year, however, the year the Ryan Howard had with the bat was so far superior to what the other three did that when you combine the offensive production of Howard and Utley and compare it to the combined offensive production of Reyes and Wright the Phillies came out on top.

There are other similarities between the teams in the infield.  They both continue to have one problem position in the infield, the Phillies at third base and the Mets at second.  The Phillies were awful at third in 2006 and the Mets struggled at second, although Jose Valentin was a far better player all-around than the Bell and Nunez combination.

Beyond the group of four the Mets had two elite offensive players in 2006 in Beltran and Delgado, while the Phillies had just one in Burrell.

There is another problem for the Phillies and it's this:  Their young players aren't really that young.  Utley will be 28 in December.  Howard will be 27 next month.  Reyes and Wright are both 23 and won't be 24 until June and December respectively.  Reyes and Wright can and will both get better, maybe a lot better.  How much better can Howard get than he was last year?

Big Catci were idle yesterday in the Arizona Fall League.

Jimmy Rollins and Mike Lieberthal do good deeds.

Joe Borowski was mentioned in an article in today's Inquirer as someone who might make sense at the back of the Phillies pen, setting up Gordon.  The righty Borowski will be 36 in May and threw to a 3.75 ERA in 72 games with the Marlins this season.  He saved 36 games, which was the most of his career and only the second time he had posted more than ten saves in a season.

This article in the Philadelphia Daily News suggests the Phillies may be interested in Miguel Batista.  The righty Batista will be 36 in February and went 11-8 with a 4.58 ERA for the Diamondbacks this season.  Sounds like a good idea to me, although he was hit hard by lefties (.321 with a 1.94 ratio) last season.

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