Hit me, baby, 39 more times
November 8 2006
Poor Britney. Who could have seen that one coming? Her loneliness is killing me.
One place where the Phillies turned it on in 2006 was getting hit by
pitches. After being in the bottom half of MLB in hit by pitches in both
2005 and 2004, the Phillies really shined this season as they were hit more
than any other team in either league.
There's not much mystery about the primary cause. Aaron Rowand. Rowand was hit 18 times in '06. In all of baseball only the Blue Jays' Reed Johnson (21) and Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks (19) were hit more. For guys getting hit that often it's a significant part of what they bring to a team offensively -- Rowand was hit as many times this year as he walked. Without his hit by pitches he would have on-based .292 rather than his still unimpressive .321. For Rowand it was the second consecutive year he was in the top two in his league in getting hit by pitched balls.
But Rowand didn't do it all by himself. The Phillies were hit 95 times as a team this season, the most in baseball. In '05 they were hit 56 times, 16th-most in baseball, and in '04 they were hit 58 times, which was the 18th-most in baseball. His co-stars in getting hit by pitches? Utley and Victorino, both of who were in the top ten in the category in MLB as they were each hit 14 times. Utley was hit nine times in 2005, which was second-highest on the Phils behind Lieberthal. Lieby was plunked 11 times in '05.
We all like base-runners, but this is getting out of hand. Someone's gonna get hurt out there. Rowand's probably gonna get hurt out there anyway -- last year his two most significant injuries came while playing the outfield. The Phillies are going to miss Utley significantly if he goes down, so here's hoping he and his cohorts start to duck.
Ryan Howard was named MVP of the All-Star Series in Japan. The MLB All-Stars completed a five-game sweep of the NPB All-Stars with a 5-3 win in ten innings early this morning. The NPB All-Stars tied the game at 3-3 with a run in the top of the ninth. Jose Reyes won it with a two-run homer in the bottom of the tenth. Howard was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in Game 5. He hit .556 with four home runs and eight RBI in the series. Utley didn't play in Game 5 but hit .333 in the series while sharing time with Tad Iguchi at second base.
In the Arizona Fall League, the Saguaros make it back to .500 at 12-12 with a 5-2 win over the lowly Javelinas. Joe Bisenius pitched a scoreless inning but allowed three walks. It was just his second appearance after getting his hard his first time out. His ERA is 40.50 after allowing six earned runs in a third of an inning in his first appearance.
Art Howe turns out to be less the Phillies third-base coach and more the Rangers' bench coach.
First-base coach Davey Lopes is partly here to help Shane Victorino improve his skills as a base-stealer as well as helping the Phillies on the bases all-around. There are some scary quotes from Lopes out there, though: "I need to talk to Jimmy and see what his philosophy is, why he doesn't run more" and "you'd like to see him be more aggressive." I really, really wouldn't. The Phillies are good on the bases. I see it as a strength of the team rather than a weakness, particularly the job that Rollins does. I agree that there's a disconnect between Victorino's speed and the number of bases he's stolen that leaves room for improvement. I would hate to see the team give away more outs, though, especially in the persons of Victorino or Rollins who will hit in front of Utley and Howard much of the year. In the last two seasons Rollins has stolen 77 bases and been caught ten times.
White Sox prospect and third baseman Josh Fields left his team in the Venezuelan Winter League and lost a chance to get some experience as an outfielder. Outfield experience may have helped his chances to get playing time with Chicago next season.
With Alex Gordon waiting in the wings, if Mark Teahan is going to play for the Royals it may be that he will have to play the outfield as well.