Despite the firepower of the Phillies’ offense, Ryan Howard continues to gather intentional walks at a tremendous pace. Howard received 35 intentional walks in 2007 after being passed intentionally 37 times in 2006. If you look at the single-season leaders in intentional walks, Howard has put his name in the top eleven of the all-time list in each of the last two seasons.

I wrote about Howard’s intentional walk rate last year as well. Howard was walked intentionally 37 times in 2006 and 35 times in 2007. Seems like the decrease should be good news, but you have to remember that Howard got fewer plate appearances in 2007. The rate at which he was passed intentionally went up.

 
PA

IBB

PA/IBB
2007 648 35 18.5
2006 704 37 19.0

One of the differences between 2007 and 2006 was that in ’06 Howard hadn’t settled in the cleanup spot. In 2006 just 351 of his 704 plate appearances, just under half, came as a cleanup hitter. In his time hitting fourth he was walked intentionally 28 times or about once every 12.5 plate appearances. In 2007, 633 of 648 of his plate appearances (almost 98%) came hitting fourth. In those 648 plate appearances he was walked intentionally 34 times or about once every 19 plate appearances.

So while he was walked intentionally more frequently overall in 2007, the rate at which he was walked intentionally as a cleanup hitter was much lower.

And that, no doubt, is because the Phillies’ five hitters were so much better in 2007 than in 2006, right? Here’s the problem with that if you look at what the Phillies’ #5 hitters did in 2006 and 2007:

 
AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
2007 .273 .365 .466 .830
2006 .266 .356 .544 .900

The Phillies’ five-hitters sure look like they were better in 2006 than they were in 2007. And they were, but they were better because of Howard himself hitting fifth.

Here’s what the numbers for the five-hitters look like if you take out Howard’s plate appearances as a #5 hitter from 2006:

 
AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
2007 .273 .365 .466 .830
2006 w/o Howard .251 .346 .473 .819

It’s still not as dramatic as I would have guessed, but at least the 2007 numbers for the five-hitters are better than the 2006 now. In ’07 Rowand got the most at-bats as a five-hitter for the Phils, posting an .874 OPS while hitting fifth. Burrell saw a lot of time there, too, but wasn’t as successful. He put up an .806 OPS as a five hitter but crushed the ball while hitting sixth (1.179 OPS in 118 at-bats), bringing the numbers down overall. In 2006 Howard got the most at-bats hitting fifth and Burrell was next, posting a .918 OPS in 148 at-bats in a much better season in the five-hole.

Brad Lidge had surgery on his right knee and it went well. He is expected to miss three to six weeks.

Lidge sounds a little tired of talking about the home run that Pujols hit against him in 2005.

The Phillies play a game tonight against Florida State. Joe Savery will get the start. Happ, Outman, Carrasco and Bisenius are also scheduled to pitch.

The Phillies signed left-handed pitcher Jared Locke and right-handed pitcher Charles Vartanian from a tryout camp.

This interesting article from over the weekend reviews Phillies’ outfield prospects. Everything’s just ducky until it suggests that in 2009 the Phils could put Jenkins/Werth in left, Victorino in right and Golson in center. That would be a really miserable outfield. I’d guess the chances of that happening are just about zero.