Baseball-Reference tracks high leverage hitting splits. The high leverage concept is based on work by Tom Tango, which is described here. Baseball-Reference suggests that high leverage plays account for about 20% of all plays.

Overall in 2008, Phillies hitters got 6,273 plate appearances in which they hit 255/332/438. Of those, 1,230 plate appearances were tagged as high leverage. In those plate appearances, the Phils as a team hit 247/332/423. A tiny bit worse, but about the same.

Here’s what key Phillies hitters did in high leverage situations in 2008, ranked by OPS:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Burrell 132 280 379 607 986
Dobbs 59 358 407 547 954
Howard 152 265 342 545 888
Feliz 92 291 378 506 884
Werth 102 276 373 448 821
Rollins 104 258 343 404 748
Utley 128 215 315 402 717
Victorino 106 240 305 396 701
Taguchi 19 250 333 313 646
Ruiz 72 238 300 333 633
Coste 74 215 268 323 591
Bruntlett 54 191 269 255 525
Jenkins 62 176 290 216 506

If you compare the player’s OPS in high leverage situations with their OPS overall for the year, there are six players whose OPS in high leverage situations were better than their OPS for the year:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Feliz 884 705
Dobbs 954 824
Burrell 986 875
Taguchi 646 580
Ruiz 633 620
Howard 888 881

And seven players from the group whose OPS overall for the year was better than their OPS in high leverage situations:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Rollins 748 786
Werth 821 861
Bruntlett 525 594
Victorino 701 799
Coste 591 748
Jenkins 506 694
Utley 717 915

The players at the top of that list have small differences between their OPS in high leverage situations and their OPS overall for the year. Rollins and Werth, for example, have very similar numbers compared to their overall OPS for the year. At the bottom of the list, Utley had a huge difference, posting a .717 OPS in high leverage situations compared to a .915 OPS overall.

Similarly, if you look at the late and close splits for the guys at the bottom of that list, Utley, Coste and Jenkins, the numbers are pretty ugly. For the guys at the top of the list, Feliz, Dobbs and Burrell, the numbers are much better. Late and close plate appearances are ones that come in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.

 
Late and close
Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Feliz 89 313 368 575
Dobbs 56 380 446 560
Burrell 111 295 441 636
Coste 69 220 288 271
Jenkins 63 148 270 204
Utley 117 221 353 347

Article about the outlook for the pen.

This article suggests that Dobbs could fill in at second if Utley doesn’t start the year. That actually seems like a fine idea. A Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at second would put up pretty nice numbers offensively, the problem being that Dobbs can’t play both second and third at the same time against a righty.

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