Archive for November, 2008

A Manuel for the ages? (part deux)

After eliminating ten managers in the quest for the best Phillies manager of all time, there are 15 left in round two. Here they are, with their win percentage, Pythagorean win percentage (if their Pythagorean win percentage is better than their actual win percentage, it’s in parenthesis) and whether or not they ever took the Phillies to the post-season:







Harry Wright






Bill Shettsline






Billy Murray






Red Dooin






Pat Moran






Ben Chapman






Eddie Sawyer


1948-52, 1958-60




Steve O’Neill






Mayo Smith






Gene Mauch






Paul Owens


1972, 1983-84




Danny Ozark






Dallas Green






Jim Fregosi






Charlie Manuel






I am going to eliminate nine managers in this round. They are Fregosi, Sawyer, O’ Neill, Murray, Chapman, Smith, Mauch, Dooin and Wright.

Here’s my thinking.

  • Jim Fregosi. Despite taking the Phillies to the World Series in 1993 (where they lost to the Blue Jays and Joe Carter), his overall winning percentage with the Phils is both below .500 and below is Pythagorean winning percentage.
  • Steve O’ Neill. A fantastic .565 winning percentage is tied with Dallas Green for the best of the group. The difference between his winning percentage and Pythagorean winning percentage is also impressive. He managed so few games, though, just one full season. He took over for Eddie Sawyer in ’52, managed all of ’53 when the Phils finished third but 22 games out of first in the eight-team National League and just 77 games of the 1954 season. Despite the impressive numbers elsewhere, it’s just not enough games.
  • Eddie Sawyer. Like Fregosi, Sawyer took the Phils to the World Series and lost but also had a winning percentage that is both below .500 and below is Pythagorean winning percentage. Sawyer’s Phillies edged out the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the NL by two games in 1950. They were swept by the Yankees in the World Series. That stint with the Phils ended in 1952, but the team brought him back again late in the decade — Sawyer’s Phils went a miserable 94-131 in ’58, ’59 and one game of the 1960 season.
  • Billy Murray. Has a solid .529 winning percentage with the Phils, but never took the team to the post-season and did not outperform his Pythagorean win percentage. Very solid, but not enough to be considered the organization’s best of all time.
  • Ben Chapman. Huge difference between his winning percentage and his Pythagorean winning percentage, the second best of the group after Dallas Green. Still, his teams were miserable, his .415 mark is the worst winning percentage of the group by a lot and he never finished better than sixth in the NL. He embarrassed the organization with his treatment of Jackie Robinson in 1947.
  • Mayo Smith. The difference between Smith’s Pythagorean and actual winning percentages is impressive, but he won less than half of his games at the helm of the Phils and never saw the post-season with the team. In his best year with the team, 1955, the Phillies finished fourth in the eight-team National League. He would have an impressive run with the Tigers late in his career, beating the Cardinals to win the 1968 World Series.
  • Red Dooin. Dooin posted more wins than Pythagoras suggests he should have, but his team finished higher than fourth in the NL just once in the years he managed — in 1913 the Phils finished second, but 12 1/2 games behind the New York Giants, who apparently were getting calls at the line of scrimmage a hundred years ago as well. The difference between his winning percentage and Pythagorean percentage is the fifth-best of this group.
  • Gene Mauch. Mauch won less than half the games he managed, but still leads the organization with 646 victories. He finished higher than fourth in the NL just once and when he did it was memorable. In 1964 the Phillies were 90-70 with 12 games to play and lead the National League by 6 1/2 games. They went 2-10 the rest of the way and finished a game behind St Louis. Mauch’s ’61 Phillies lost 23 in a row at one point and finished a hide-your-eyes bad 47-107.
  • Harry Wright. Wright is a legendary manager who is in the Hall of Fame, but not for anything he did in Philadelphia. Between 1872-1878, Wright won championships six times in seven years. His Boston Red Stockings of the National Association, for which Wright was a player manager who saw significant time on the field through 1874, won the National Association in ’72, ’73, ’74 and ’75. As manager of the Boston Red Caps, he won the National League 1877 and 1878. He didn’t have quite the same success in Philadelphia, though. He did lead the Quakers to a second-place finish in the NL in 1887, when they finished 3 1/2 games behind the Detroit Wolverines. That was as good as it got for him in Philadelphia — when you compare him to the rest of the list he is also hurt by posting a winning percentage worse than his Pythagorean winning percentage.

Six left. Green, Manuel, Shettsline, Moran, Ozark and Owens.

A Manuel for the ages?

Best Phillies manager of all-time (over several posts). Here goes.

You don’t have to go very far down this path before you bump into a big problem: best, in this case, means different things to different people. There is no answer to this particular question, only a bunch of different opinions.

For purposes of this post I am looking only at Phillies managers who have managed at least 299 games for the Phils since 1884 (in 1890 the team changed its name from the Quakers to the Phillies). It would be 300 games, except that would exclude Dallas Green, who managed 299 games for the Phils.

Some things are easy. Gene Mauch, who managed the Phillies between 1960 and 1968, has managed the most games for the Phils and has the most wins (646).

In terms of sheer magnitude of games managed and games won, Phillies history features a big three that includes Mauch, Harry Wright and Danny Ozark. All three of the group managed over 1,000 games and won about 600 for the Phils. Mauch was 646-684 (.486). Wright managed from 1884 to 1893 and went 636-566 (.529). Ozark managed from 1973-79 and went 594-510 (.538).

After that trio there’s a big drop — Jim Fregosi (’91-’96) is next in terms of games won and he won only 431, 163 less than Ozark, who had the fewest wins of the group of Mauch, Wright and Ozark.

Anyhow, if you thinks it’s all about the number of wins it makes your job easy. It’s Mauch and you’re done. I’m going to keep going, though.

Twenty-five managers have been at the helms for at least 299 games since 1884. I am going to eliminate ten of them immediately. They are:

Hugh Duffy (1904-06, 206-251, .451)
Art Fletcher (1923-26, 231-378, .379)
Burt Shotton (1928-33, 370-549, .403)
Jimmie Wilson (1934-38, 280-477, .370)
Doc Prothro (1939-41, 138-320, .301)
Frank Lucchesi (1970-72, 166-233, .416)
John Felske (1985-87, 190-194, .495)
Nick Leyva (1989-91, 148-189, .439)
Terry Francona (1997-2000, 285-363, .440)
Larry Bowa (2001-04, 337-308, .522)

I don’t think any of those ten are the best manager in Phillies history.

Of that group of ten, seven, Duffy, Fletcher, Shotton, Wilson, Prothro, Felske and Francona, meet all of these criteria: 1) They had a winning percentage while managing the Phils of under .500 2) Their Pythagorean win percentage was higher than their actual winning percentage (ie, they won fewer games than the formula expects) and 3) they never took the Phillies to the post-season.

Incidentally, Charlie Manuel and Francona have now managed the same number of games for the Phils. Manuel has gone 354-294 (.546). Like Francona, Manuel’s Pythagorean win percentage is worse than his actual win percentage. It is also worse by almost exactly the same amount (Manuel has a .546 win percentage and a .548 Pythagorean win percentage while Francona’s are .440 and .441). Francona never won the World Series with the Phils, however.

Bowa, Leyva and Lucchesi also were eliminated.

Leyva has a .439 winning percentage and Pythagorean win percentage that was the same as his actual winning percentage.

Lucchesi’s .416 winning percentage was miserable, although it was slightly better than his Pythagorean win percentage (.404).

Bowa’s .522 winning percentage was solid, but not as good as his Pythagorean win percentage of .524. Among the 25 managers in the group, the difference between his actual win percentage and Pythagorean win percentage is tenth worst. Also if I thought Larry Bowa was the best manager in the history of the Phillies I would have trouble taking myself seriously.

That leaves 15 for the next post.

Pitch switch

When you think of the Phillies, you probably think more of the big bats of Utley, Howard, Rollins and Burrell and less of Joe Blanton and JC Romero. But it was almost inarguably the pitchers that played a bigger role in bringing the Phils their first World Series trophy since a breathless nation learned who shot JR (with apologies to those of you who are 28 years behind on your Netflix TV series DVD queue, it was Kristin Shepard).

I’d also like to say for the record something I think we’ve all known for a while: queue is an odd little word that seems like it shouldn’t be possible. I think it thinks nobody’s watching, but we are. It would be nothing without Netflix. And England. It seems like it somehow got through committee and should be up for review any time now. I’ve been waiting for news of a recall for years now, but, so far, nothing.

In 14 post-season games in 2008, the Phillies scored 64 runs and allowed 44. That’s a rate of about 4.57 runs scored per game and about 3.14 runs allowed per game. They scored runs at a rate lower (worse) than they did during the regular season (in the regular season they scored 799 runs in 162 games, about 4.93 runs per game) and allowed runs at a lower (better) rate (they allowed 680 runs in 2008, about 4.19 runs per game).

The 3.14 runs per game allowed in the post-season for the Phils is outstanding. Over the regular season this year the team in all of baseball that allowed the fewest runs was the Toronto Blue Jays. They allowed 610 runs in 162 games, about 3.77 per game.

The Phillies got ten quality starts in 14 post-season games, including five quality starts in the five games of the World Series (here’s the post-season Start Log). Cole Hamels has made six post-season starts for the Phils between 2007 and 2008, all six of which have been quality starts.

As a group, the Phillies bullpen threw to a 1.79 ERA in the 2008 post-season.

The Phillies used four starting pitchers in the post-season. Here’s what they did during the post-season, what the same group did during the regular season and what all of the Phillies starters (including Hamels, Myers, Moyer and Blanton) did during the regular season:

  IP ERA Ratio K
Hamels 35 1.80 0.91 30
Myers 19 4.74 1.32 12
Moyer 11.2 8.49 1.63 10
Blanton 17 3.18 1.29 18
82.2 3.70 1.19 70
Total regular
season (this group)
684.1 3.79 1.27 531
Total regular
season (all PHI SP)
966.2 4.23 1.36 670

They were better in the post-season than they were during the regular season. Moyer had two miserable starts and one good one and Myers struggled twice, but Hamels and Blanton were both fantastic.

Moyer and Hamels have a bigger impact on the “Total regular season (this group)” than Blanton and Myers. They threw 423 2/3 innings with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.20 ratio. Blanton and Myers combined to throw just 260 2/3 innings with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.38 ratio.

Here’s what the seven relievers did during the post-season, and what all Phillies relievers did as a group in 2008:

  IP ERA Ratio K
Lidge 9.1 0.96 0.96 13
Madson 12.2 2.13 0.87 12
Romero 7.1 0.00 0.68 7
Durbin 3.1 2.70 3.00 3
Condrey 1.2 5.40 2.40 1
Eyre 3.0 3.00 1.33 2
Happ 3.0 3.00 2.00 2
Total 40.1 1.79 1.21 40
relievers 2008 regular season
483.0 3.19 1.38 411

Lidge and Madson have been widely recognized as having played a crucial role for the Phillies in relief, but Romero belongs in that group as well. Romero, Madson and Lidge combined to give the Phils 29 1/3 innings in the post-season, throwing to a 1.23 ERA with an 0.85 ratio while striking out 32.

The Phillies won three one-run games in the World Series, taking game one 3-2, game three 5-4 and game five 4-3.

Rollins and Victorino won Gold Gloves. The best defensive players on the Phils not to win Gold Gloves were Feliz and Ruiz. David Wright won at third base and Yadier Molina at catcher.

The 2008 World Series Film will debut in Philadelphia area theaters on November 24. Ticket information and information about the DVD is available here.

Bat wrap

Here’s a look at what eight key Phillies did in the post-season and their OPS in the regular season:

Rollins 59 237 286 407 692 786
Werth 55 309 387 582 969 861
Utley 50 220 391 460 851 915
Howard 52 269 397 500 897 881
Burrell 44 227 346 455 801 875
Victorino 52 269 345 481 826 799
Feliz 44 250 283 273 555 704
Ruiz 46 261 346 391 737 620

Using OPS as the measure, Ruiz and Werth were better offensive players during the post-season than during the regular season. Rollins, Utley, Burrell and Feliz were worse. Victorino and Howard were about the same.

Here’s the group ordered by OPS in the post-season and then OPS in the regular season:

Post season
  Player OPS
1 Werth 969
2 Howard 897
3 Utley 851
4 Victorino 826
5 Burrell 801
6 Ruiz 737
7 Rollins 692
8 Feliz 555
Regular season
1 Utley 915
2 Howard 881
3 Burrell 875
4 Werth 861
5 Victorino 799
6 Rollins 786
7 Feliz 704
8 Ruiz 620

Werth didn’t have a good series against the Dodgers in the NLCS, hitting just 190/227/238 as he went 4-for-21 with a double and seven strikeouts. He was a monster in the NLDS and the World Series, though, going 13-for-34 with six doubles, a triple and a home run.

Howard went 2-for-11 against the Brewers. He hit .300 against the Dodgers, but with just one extra-base hit, a double. 6-for-21 with three home runs in the World Series.

Utley went 5-for-33 in the NLDS and World Series combined (but with two home runs, seven walks and a double), but had a fantastic NLCS. 6-for-17 (.353) with two doubles, a home run and six walks against the Dodgers.

Victorino had a huge series against the Brewers, 5-for-14 with three doubles and a home run, but cooled after that. 9-for-38 (.237) with a triple and a home run against LA and the Rays.

Burrell 9-for-30 (.300) with three home runs against the Brewers and Dodgers before going 1-for-14 (with five walks) in the World Series.

Ruiz was 1-for-14 against the Brewers, but 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles and a home run after the NLDS.

Rollins terrorized the Brewers (375/412/688 with two doubles and a home run in 16 at-bats), but went 8-for-43 (.186) in the NLCS and World Series.

Feliz had one extra-base hit, a double, in 44 post-season at-bats. He’s now slugging .296 in 54 playoff at-bats for his career. We may have to cut him some slack, what with winning the World Series and all.

Ruben Amaro Jr will be the Phillies next GM.

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