Despite his strong offensive year, Aaron Rowand’s secondary average this season was just .288, 43rd best among the 75 National League players that had at least 500 plate appearances. That was especially surprising to me given his .515 slugging percentage — his secondary average was lower than Shane Victorino’s. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this and I’m here to help.

The Phillies were a tremendous offensive team in 2007, which can be demonstrated in a bunch of different ways. One of them is this: among NL players with 500 plate appearances this season, the Phils had four players in the top 20 in secondary average:



Player


SECA


NL Rank

Howard

.520

1

Burrell

.487

3

Rollins

.352

17

Utley

.343

19

Fantastic. Way to go, fellas. Alert the press. Would probably be even better if we knew what secondary average actually was or understood what it meant. A moment, please, and I’ll give it my best shot.

Another way to demonstrate that the Phillies were a fantastic team is this: among the NL players that had 500 plate appearances, the Phillies had four of the top 20 players in slugging percentage.



Player


SLG


NL Rank

Howard

.584

4

Utley

.566

6

Rollins

.531

15

Rowand

.515

18

Five good offensive players, but the lists aren’t the same. Burrell was third in the league in secondary average and not in the top 20 in slugging (he was 21st). Howard dominated the league in secondary average, but three players posted a higher slugging percentage. Utley’s slugging percentage was way better than his secondary average and you have to look hard to find Rowand’s secondary average (43rd of 75 NL players with 500 PA) despite that fact that he was 18th in the league in slugging.

What secondary average is is easy. Secondary average is TB-H+BB+SB-CS/AB.

Understanding what it means isn’t quite so easy, but secondary average measures a player’s offensive contribution. Players that walk a lot and get a lot of extra-base hits have high secondary averages. But players that have high slugging percentages don’t necessarily.

Singles hitters, especially ones that don’t walk or steal bases, get hammered. Singles don’t help your secondary average, but, unlike slugging percentage, walks do. For example, a player that is 10-for-10 with ten singles and no walks or stolen bases has a slugging percentage of 1.000 and a secondary average of .000.

Here are Ryan Howard’s real numbers from 2007:


AB

H

BB

SB

CS

TB

AVG

OBP

SLG

SECA
529 142 107 1 0 309 268 392 584 520

In 2007, Howard got 529 at-bats and posted a 268/392/584 line with a .520 secondary average. His .520 secondary average was the best in the NL. By comparison, Babe Ruth’s career secondary average is .594.

If Howard did exactly what he did this season but with ten fewer walks, he would have had a 268/382/584 line with a .501 secondary average. His on-base percentage goes down and his secondary average go down, but his average and slugging percentage stay the same because neither are related to his walks. Here’s what those numbers would look like:


AB

H

BB

SB

CS

TB

AVG

OBP

SLG

SECA
529 142 97 1 0 309 268 382 584 501

If Howard did exactly what he did this season, but had ten more singles, he would have had a 287/407/603 line and the same .520 secondary average. His average, on-base percentage and slugging all went up, but his secondary average stayed the same.


AB

H

BB

SB

CS

TB

AVG

OBP

SLG

SECA
529 152 107 1 0 319 287 407 603 520

Finally, if he did exactly what he did this season but with ten more singles and one fewer home run, he would have had a 287/407/597 line with a .514 secondary average. Compared to his actual numbers, everything is up except his secondary average, which is not impressed with the ten extra singles and misses that home run.


AB

H

BB

SB

CS

TB

AVG

OBP

SLG

SECA
529 152 107 1 0 316 287 407 597 514

Here are the slugging percentages and the secondary averages for the 11 Phillies’ hitters that got at least 200 at-bats this season:



Player


SLG


SECA


Difference

Rollins

.531

.352

.179

Rowand

.515

.288

.227

Utley

.566

.343

.223

Howard

.584

.520

.064

Burrell

.502

.487

.015

Victorino

.423

.296

.127

Ruiz

.396

.262

.134

Dobbs

.451

.278

.173

Helms

.368

.189

.179

Werth

.459

.357

.102

Nunez

.282

.175

.107

Helms and Nunez were just miserable offensive players whether you use slugging or secondary average or whatever. Ruiz wasn’t much better.

Utley and Rowand are the guys that had the biggest differences between their secondary averages and their slugging percentage. Burrell’s was just about the same and Howard’s was pretty close.

One of the things that is surprising about the list is that Victorino posted a higher secondary average than Rowand. And that just doesn’t seem like it should be possible. In 684 plate appearances, Rowand had 72 extra-base hits and 47 walks. Victorino had 38 extra-base hits and 37 walks in 510 plate appearances. And perhaps they did it all for us to demonstrate that secondary average isn’t just about walks and extra-base hits, it’s also about stolen bases. Victorino was out of this world stealing bases this year, swiping 37 while being caught just four times. It was enough to push his secondary average past Rowand’s. If neither player had stolen a base or been caught stealing all season and posted the same numbers, Victorino would have had a .224 secondary average and Rowand a .283 (as a side note, Rowand’s secondary average suffers if we eliminate stolen bases despite the fact that he was not an effective base stealer in 2007. He stole six bases and was caught three times).

The other thing about Rowand was that despite his low secondary average, he had a ton of extra-base hits. Only 14 players in the NL had more than his 72. He was sixth in the NL in doubles with 45. Secondary average can tell you a lot of things, but I think even the hardest core of Phillies fans would have trouble arguing that Ryan Howard was the best hitter in the NL this season. Among the players with 500 plate appearances, Rowand certainly wasn’t 43rd best. Using OPS, for example, he was 19th. Using runs created per 27 outs, 22nd. But secondary average does shed some light on the kind of hitter he was and the fact that his big slugging percentage was built on a lot of singles and doubles.

The Iron Pigs apparently had some trouble naming their mascot.

This article from the Phillies’ web site says the team wants Iguchi back to play third. I would be absolutely 100% flummoxed if that were to transpire, but Iguchi was a huge contributor to the Phils in ’07 and anything that helps his bargaining position works for me. I would be surprised if it turned out that Iguchi could throw well enough to be a legitimate option at third. Even if the Phils really wanted to bring Iguchi back, this article points out they may be prevented from doing so.

Gillick says Eaton’s health makes him a question mark in this article. He may have found that to be more polite than saying it was the inability to get anybody out.

Pending physicals, the Marlins will send Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and catcher Mike Rabelo. Maybin and Miller are going to be a lot of fun to watch, but the trade makes the Fish a lot worse on the field for 2008. The addition of Maybin means that whatever small chance there was that the Phils would deal Victorino to the Fish to play center is even smaller.

The Cardinals may be trying to trade Anthony Reyes. If they’re having trouble it may have something to do with the 26-year-old’s 6.04 ERA in 107 1/3 innings last season.