Given that the Phils and Mets scored the same number of runs last season, I thought I’d look for any area where the Phillies could improve. One is early in the game.

Here’s the runs scored for each of the teams in innings one through three, four through six and seven through nine:

 
Phillies

Mets
Innings Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
1 through 3 266 0.55 342 0.70
4 through 6 302 0.62 253 0.52
7 through 9 221 0.50 191 0.43

For each team the runs scored in innings one through nine does not equal 799. The Phillies scored ten runs in extra innings while the Mets scored thirteen.

In both the inning four through six and seven through nine categories, the Phillies outscored the Mets. For the season, after the third inning the Phils outscored the Mets 533 to 457.

The Phillies were actually better than the Mets in the second inning as well:

 
Phillies

Mets
Inning Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
Second 71 0.44 68 0.42

That means there must have been a big problem in the first and third innings. And there was:

 
Phillies

Mets
Inning Runs
scored
Per inning Runs
Scored
Per Inning
First 109 0.67 139 0.86
Third 86 0.53 135 0.83

The Mets clearly were getting out to a better start in ’08 in the first inning. Here’s at least part of the reason why:

First batter of the game

Team PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
PHI 162 253 290 344 634
NYM 162 346 370 532 902

Rollins was miserable in the first plate appearance of the game in 2008. He got the first plate appearance in 126 of the 162 games and hit 242/278/342 in those plate appearances. Victorino and Werth were the only two players on the team to get more than ten plate appearances as the first Phillie hitter of the game — Victorino hit 429/429/571 and Werth hit 300/417/300. Taguchi went 1-for-8 in the eight games where he hit first for the Phils.

Jose Reyes, on the other hand, was a terror for the Mets as the first hitter of the game. He got the Mets going by hitting 340/365/529 in the 159 times he got the first plate appearance of the game for New York.

It’s a lot less clear what happened in the third inning, but for whatever reason there were a lot of Phillies that just didn’t hit in their plate appearances that came in the third. Burrell hit .130, Werth .104, Victorino .211 and Ruiz .160.

Also possible is that the Phillies’ problems in the first inning forced them to send their 7-8-9 hitters to the plate more often in the third inning while the Mets were sending the better hitters at the top of their order. Here are the Mets hitting splits in the third inning.

The Phillies signed Miguel Cairo to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. He may be part of the competition to fill in at second if Utley isn’t ready for the start of the season.

Adam Eaton, who has made 49 starts for the Phillies over the past two season in which he’s thrown to a 6.06 ERA, suggests that the reason general managers might not be jumping all over the chance to trade for him is that he will be available without having to make a trade if the Phillies release him.

Bad news if you had Drew Naylor in your office Phillies opening day starter pool. Looks like the Phils may be going to go with that Hamels guy.

Rich Dubee suggests Kendrick is the favorite to win the fifth starter job in this article.