Jayson Werth is the best right-handed hitter for the Phils heading into 2009. But who is second-best? Looking at the 40-man roster, the candidates include Chris Coste, Lou Marson, Ronny Paulino, Carlos Ruiz, Eric Bruntlett, Pedro Feliz, Brad Harman and John Mayberry. I’m going to eliminate Marson, Harman and Mayberry, who combine to have 14 career at-bats between them. That leaves five. Coste, Paulino, Ruiz, Bruntlett and Feliz.

Here’s what they have done over their careers:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Coste 655 288 338 449 788
Feliz 3490 252 290 429 719
Paulino 1110 278 331 382 713
Ruiz 880 242 329 359 688
Bruntlett 777 240 315 344 659

Only two of that group has slugged over .382 for their career, and one of them, Feliz, has a .290 on-base percentage to go with his .429 slugging percentage.

The relatively large number of plate appearances for Paulino may be surprising to some. He caught 124 games for the Pirates in 2006 and 129 in 2007.

Here’s what they have done against lefties:


Vs Left
Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Paulino 288 355 417 498 915
Coste 193 316 361 503 864
Feliz 957 267 312 446 758
Bruntlett 314 269 358 396 754
Ruiz 207 206 307 343 650

Paulino’s numbers against lefties are fantastic. I think we should expect him to make the team and play regularly against lefties, although Manuel has seemingly chosen his starting catcher based on the starting pitcher for the Phillies in recent years. It will be interesting if he continues that pattern given the huge difference between the career numbers against lefties for Paulino and Ruiz (assuming Paulino makes the team).

Ruiz is just miserable against lefties. His career numbers are worse against them than they are against righties.

Coste’s results against left-handed pitching have also been solid. Bruntlett gets on base well against them.

Here are their numbers against righties:


Vs Right
Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Coste 462 276 329 427 756
Feliz 2533 246 282 422 704
Ruiz 673 253 336 364 700
Paulino 822 252 301 343 643
Bruntlett 463 221 286 310 596

Chris Coste’s .756 OPS leads the group. Using OPS, his career line against righties is a tiny bit better than Jayson Werth’s career 251/347/408 (.755 OPS) line against righties. Werth is much better against lefties, though, he has hit to a .920 OPS against them in his career.

Paulino and Bruntlett are both poor hitters against righties. Feliz has the worst on-base percentage of the group.

Coste seems like the rather clear answer to the question, with the note that Paulino has had tremendous success against left-handed pitching in his career. Even though the career numbers for Coste are solid, I think you have to be worried about the Phillies hitting from the right side going into ’09. Even if Coste is on the team, I think we’re likely to see him behind the plate far less often in 2009. There’s a big question about where he’s going to play if he’s going to be anything besides a pinch-hitter. The other thing that I think you have to be concerned about is that he’s going to be 36 when the 2009 season starts. He was fantastic with the bat in 2006, but over the last two years he’s gotten 403 at-bats in which he hit 268/320/422. I think his future numbers are likely to be much closer to that than to the monster 328/376/506 line he posted in 198 at-bats in 2006.

The Phillies also have two big switch-hitters in their lineup. Here are the career numbers for Rollins and Victorino:


Career
Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Rollins 5787 277 333 441 774
Victorino 1701 281 342 421 762

Very similar numbers. Rollins has gotten on base a little less regularly and hit to a slightly higher slugging percentage.

With the dropoff in Rollins’ numbers last season, Victorino was the better hitter of the duo for the first time after being markedly outhit by Rollins in ’06 and ’07. In 2008, Victorino hit 293/352/447, topping Rollins’ 277/349/437 line in all three categories. While it may seem like the difference in their age should be more dramatic, they both have their birthdays in November and Rollins just turned 30 while Victorino turned 28.

Some good news for the Phillies in that both Rollins and Victorino have been better against lefties than righties over their careers, with the difference being more dramatic for Victorino than for Rollins:


Vs Left
Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Victorino 518 279 346 486 832
Rollins 1520 287 342 452 794

Both Rollins and Victorino have posted a better OPS against lefties over their career than all of the right-handed hitters on the list above except for Coste and Paulino.

Here are the numbers against righties:

Vs Right

Player

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Rollins

3887

274

330

437

767

Victorino

1117

289

346

404

751

Again, using OPS they are about as good as any of the right-handed hitters on the list above. Coste’s .756 OPS is better than Victorino’s .751, but Victorino gets on base more.

If you add Victorino’s plate appearances versus lefties and his plate appearances versus righties they don’t add up to his total plate appearances. That’s cause he has 66 career plate appearances versus righties as a right-handed batter that are not included.

This says that Mark DeRosa has been traded to the Indians for minor league pitchers Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub. That doesn’t seem like a whole lot for DeRosa, so I don’t quite understand. I would have guessed that the Phillies would have been willing to give up more than that to land him.