Archive for March, 2009

Every count counts

In 2008, Phillies pitchers faced 6,229 hitters. 160 of them, or about 2.6%, hit home runs. That’s a home run every 38.9 plate appearances. Opposing hitters weren’t as likely to hit home runs in all counts, of course. The chart below shows how many plate appearance ended with a pitch delivered on that count, the percent of the plate appearances for the year that represents, the number of home runs hit on pitches delivered on that count, the percent of the total home runs allowed by the Phils for the year that is and the plate appearances that ended on that pitch between home runs for each of the counts:


Count

PA

% of PA

HR

% of HR

PA per HR

0-0

778

12.5

35

21.9

22.2

1-0

432

6.9

17

10.6

25.4

2-0

156

2.5
6
3.8

26.0

3-0

159

2.6
1
0.6

159.0

0-1

562

9.0

23

14.4

24.4

1-1

531

8.5

15

9.4

35.4

2-1

363

5.8

17

10.6

21.4

3-1

291

4.7
5
3.1

58.2

0-2

473

7.6
2
1.3

236.5

1-2

873

14.0

13

8.7

67.2

2-2

822

13.2

14

8.8

58.7

3-2

789

12.7

12

7.5

65.8

More home runs came on the first pitch of the plate appearance than any other — for one reason every plate appearance has an 0-0 pitch. Not every plate appearance has a 3-1 (for example) pitch. The difference between the percentage of the home runs allowed and the percentage of plate appearances is also largest for the first pitch.

Hamels and Myers were the biggest culprits at giving up first pitch home runs. They each gave up eight. Hamels gave up 28 home runs the year overall, Myers 29. So for Hamels about 29% of the home runs he allowed came on the first pitch and for Myers about 28% of the home runs he allowed came on the first pitch.

In 2007, Phillies pitchers faced 6,385 hitters and 198 of them homered. That’s 3.1% or a home run every 32.2 plate appearances. Here’s the counts they came on:


Count

PA

% of PA

HR

% of HR

PA per HR

0-0

817

12.8

43

21.7

19.0

1-0

465

7.3

27

13.6

17.2

2-0

169

2.6

14

7.1

12.1

3-0

181

2.8
2
1.0

90.5

0-1

582

9.1

19

9.6

30.6

1-1

567

8.9

14

7.1

40.5

2-1

345

5.4

17

8.6

20.3

3-1

308

4.8
3
1.5

102.7

0-2

480

7.5
6
3.0

80.0

1-2

893

14.0

12

6.1

74.4

2-2

843

13.2

21

10.6

40.1

3-2

735

11.5

20

10.1

36.8

Joe Blanton didn’t allow any home runs yesterday, on the first pitch or any other pitch. He was fantastic as the Phils topped the Marlins 5-1. With the win they are 8-10 in spring training.

Blanton allowed one hit, a single, over six shutout innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. Condrey pitched the eighth and gave up a run on two hits to raise his spring ERA to 1.69.

Ozuna went 0-for-4 with a walk to drop his spring average to .379. Donald 1-for-4 with a walk and an error. Mayberry 0-for-1 with a walk. Giles played third and went 1-for-3 with a double and an error, raising his average to .161. Coste 1-for-3 with a walk.

The Phillies play St Louis today with Carrasco expected to pitch.

Chan Ho Park has a sore left hamstring, but it should not keep him from pitching.

The article linked above also says that Hamels may throw off of a mound tomorrow. My guess is that the idea that the Phils would carry 14 hitters and 11 pitchers for the first few games of the season is unlikely, in part because of the health status of Park and especially Hamels.

Team USA will play Japan on Sunday in the World Baseball Classic. The winner of that game will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Venezuela and Korea in the finals. The US lost to Venezuela on Wednesday, 10-6, in a non-elimination game that was used to determine seeding for the final round. Rollins was 1-for-5 and left seven men on base. Victorino 0-for-4.

Philliesflow got a Twitter page.


Can’t tell the players without a program (and they sometimes look kind of similar even with a program)

For bullpen candidates Dave Borkowski, Gary Majewski and Mike Koplove, here’s the percentage of hitters over their careers who have struck out, walked or been hit by a pitch, hit a fly ball, ground ball, line drive or bunted:

gbfb.jpg

Majewski has actually had a higher percentage of the batters he’s faced hit ground balls than Koplove. He’s also struck people out less regularly than Koplove (and walked them less frequently), though, and the rate at which he’s given up fly balls is much higher than the rate for Koplove. If you look just at the batters that don’t walk or strike out, Koplove’s ground ball rate is a little better. Of the batters they’ve faced that did not walk or strike out, Koplove has gotten 51.7% of those batters to hit a ground ball while Majewski has gotten 49.4% of them to hit a ground ball.

Still, though, when you factor in all of the hitters, Majewski has been more likely to get a hitter to hit the ball on the ground than Koplove over his career.

Here’s what right-handed batters have done against the three over their careers:

bmkvsr.jpg

Koplove clearly has the best numbers against righties of the group.

Here’s what they’ve done against lefties:

bkmvl.jpg

The average and slugging are still impressive for Koplove against lefties, but the on-base percentage takes a huge hit. Over his career, Koplove has faced 620 right-handed hitters and walked just 26 of them — that’s about 4.2%. He’s walked 77 of the 465 left-handed hitters he’s faced, which is about 16.6%. That’s too many.

Lefties have hit 294/385/472 against Borkowski over his career, which makes him tough to use against left-handed batters.

Oddly, by OPS, Majewski has been a little better against lefties than righties over his career. Righties have hit 309/368/438 (.806 OPS) against him while lefties have hit 291/367/420 against him (.787). Of the three he has also faced lefties with the least regularity — 40.5% of the hitters he’s faced have been left-handed compared to 42.9% for Koplove and 44.3% for Borkowski.

Yesterday the Phils and Blue Jays played to a 7-7 tie. The Phils are 7-10 with one tie in spring training.

Happ got the start and went four innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. Happ gave up two home runs in the game, a two-run shot Brad Emaus and a solo homer to Jason Lane. Majewski followed Happ and threw two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk to raise his spring ERA to 2.00. The Phillies led 7-4 to start the top of the ninth, but Joe Bisenius gave up three runs in the frame.

Jayson Werth broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a three-run homer. He was 2-for-4 on the day and is hitting .357 this spring. Cairo went 0-for-5 to drop his average to .303. Donald 0-for-1. Coste 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and was twice hit by a pitch. He’s 0-for-8 in spring training. Paulino is hitting .200 after going 0-for-3. Mayberry went 1-for-3 with a single.

The Phillies play the Marlins today.

The Phillies have three off-days between their first game of the regular season and their eighth game of the regular season. All that rest could allow them to carry just 11 pitchers to start the year, a possibility Manuel talks about here.

Roundtable discussion of Phillies bloggers at We Should be GM’s.


Ski trip

Chan Ho Park has been impressive in the battle for the fifth starter job so far this spring. If he were to win the job it would open another spot in the bullpen and righties Mike Koplove, Gary Majewski and Dave Borkowski would be among the top contenders for the opening.

That’s a lot of skis and it can be tough to tell them apart.

Majewski is 29-years-old. Koplove and Borkowski are both 32.

Koplove basically hasn’t pitched in the majors in the last three years, throwing just nine innings. Borkowski and Majewski have both thrown at least 23 innings in each of the past three seasons.

Borkowski has started 21 games in his career. His most recent start came in 2004. Majewski and Koplove have only worked in relief.

All three have been very good in spring training so far. Here are their numbers:

 
G

IP

ER

H

BB

SO

ERA

Ratio

Borkowski
5
5.0
0 2 3 4
0.00

1.00

Koplove
4
4.0
0 1 1 5
0.00

0.50

Majewski
4
7.0
1 5 1 6
1.29

0.86

And here are the career numbers for the three pitchers:

 
G

IP

ERA

Ratio

H/9

BB/9

SO/9

Borkowski

181

346.3

5.87

1.56

10.19

3.85

6.89

Koplove

222

254.7

3.82

1.31

8.16

3.64

6.18

Majewski

229

240.3

4.61

1.58

10.90

3.33

5.32

Koplove has the best career numbers, but he’s hardly pitched in the majors over the past three seasons. Here’s is what the three have done over the past three years:

 
G

IP

ERA

Ratio

H/9

BB/9

SO/9

Borkowski

130

178.7

5.44

1.52

10.07

3.58

7.00

Koplove
7
9.00

5.00

1.67

11.00

4.00

5.00

Majewski

134

133.3

5.81

1.73

12.35

3.17

5.40

All three have some ugly numbers. Advantage Koplove, though, for not pitching much. He didn’t pitch at all in 2008 and threw six innings for the Indians in ’07 and three for Arizona in ’06.

Here’s what opposing batters have done against them over their careers:

  PA AVG OBP SLG % H % BB % SO % XBH %HR
Borkowski 1564 .285 .357 .469 25.1 9.5 16.9 9.4 3.1
Koplove 1085 .246 .331 .359 21.3 9.5 16.1 5.7 1.8
Majewski 1092 .302 .367 .430 26.6 8.2 13.0 7.6 1.6

Despite being about three years older than Majewski, Koplove has faced about the same number of hitters over his career.

Majewski has issued walks less regularly than Koplove or Borkowski over his career, but has also struck batters out at a lower rate. Borkowski, who has spent the last three years pitching in Houston, has allowed extra-base hits and home runs at a much higher rate than the other two.

Borkowski has pitched seven seasons and never posted an ERA+ of 100 or better.

Majewski was solid in 2004 and 2005, throwing 107 innings with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.40 ratio. He has struggled since, throwing to a 7.14 ERA over the past two seasons after an uninspired 2006. .302 is a lot for opponents to hit against you over your career — it’s a little worrisome when your ratio is 1.40 when you’re at your best.

Koplove was effective from 2001 through 2004. He threw 196 innings for Arizona, pitching to a 3.44 ERA and a 1.28 ratio in those years combined. He was hit hard in 2005, putting up a 5.07 ERA and hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a season since.

Yesterday the Phils beat the Reds 8-1 to improve to 7-10 in spring training.

Myers was fantastic. He went 5 2/3 shutout innings. He allowed four hits and didn’t walk a batter. He struck out seven. Borkowski finished off the sixth for him, walking a batter before getting a strikeout to end the inning. Durbin and Condrey each pitched a scoreless frame to keep their spring ERAs at 0.00.

Mayberry had two more hits, going 2-for-5 with a double. Ozuna 1-for-1 with an RBI. Cairo 0-for-1. Giles’s average is down to .143 after an 0-for-2. Ibanez was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Stairs was 1-for-4 with a double and three RBI.

The Phillies play the Blue Jays this afternoon. JA Happ is expected to pitch.

Team USA eliminated Puerto Rico last night with a dramatic win in the World Baseball Classic. Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Victorino started the inning with a single off of JC Romero. Brian Roberts moved Victorino to second with another single off Romero. Romero got Derek Jeter to fly out for the first out before walking Jimmy Rollins to load the bases with one down and the US team down by two runs. Fernando Cabrera replaced Romero and walked Kevin Youkilis to force in a run. 5-4 with the bases still loaded. David Wright singled to right, scoring Roberts and Rollins and giving the US a 6-5 win.

Rollins was 0-for-2 with two walks in the game. Victorino 3-for-4 with an RBI. Romero went 2/3 of an inning for Puerto Rico and was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk. For the tournament, Romero made three appearances. In 2 2/3 innings he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk.

The US plays Venezuela tonight in a non-elimination game.

Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic with a 7-4 loss to Cuba on Monday night. Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch in the game. He made two appearances in the tournament, allowing a run over two innings on two hits and a walk.

Rich Dubee says it’s a long shot that Hamels will pitch on opening day. I would guess that Hamels isn’t a long shot in the same way that you and I are, though.

This offers encouraging news about Hamels’ elbow.


There’s no place like home — and hopefully there won’t be for the next seven months or so either

Last thing on the Phillies bullpen and preventing home runs. For a while at least.

The Phillies relievers were really good at preventing home runs overall last year, but they were especially good at preventing them at home. Looking at the group of five relievers who faced at least 200 hitters in relief for the Phils in ’08 that will also be a part of the ’09 picture, Lidge, Durbin, Condrey, Madson and Romero combined to face 848 batters at home last year. Just ten of them hit home runs. If you look at the career numbers for the group, the rate they allowed home runs both at home and on the road was improved, but the rate they allowed the long ball at home was improved by a lot more.

hrhomeawayrp.jpg

By comparison, the group of Hamels, Myers, Moyer and Blanton (’08 numbers as a Phillie only) combined to allow home runs at almost the same rate at home and away during 2008. They also allowed them at a rate that was a little lower than the rate they had given them up over their careers prior to the 2008 season:

hrhomeawaysp.jpg

That group of starters actually allowed home runs a tiny bit more frequently in 2008 than they had over their careers. Unlike the group of relievers, they allowed them a little more regularly at home than away from home.

And speaking of starting pitchers who have been a little bit better in the past, it may be early to say who the Phillies’ fifth starter will be, but the who-it-won’t-be picture is getting a little clearer. Kyle Kendrick needed to turn things around quickly coming into yesterday’s start. He didn’t. The Phils lost to the Yankees, falling 12-0 to drop to 6-10 in spring training.

Kendrick went four innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks. One of the runs was unearned due to an error by Donald. Eyre struck out three and allowed a single in a scoreless seventh.

The Phils didn’t do much with the bats. Paulino 1-for-2. Giles 0-for-2 to drop his average to .154. Donald 0-for-1 with a strikeout in his only at-bat. He’s hitting .318. Mayberry 0-for-1. Harman, back from the World Baseball Classic, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

The Phillies play the Reds today.

Manuel says Kendrick’s outing yesterday wasn’t as bad as you might think. Moral victories might not be enough for Kendrick at this point, though.

The article linked above says the Phillies reassigned 13 players to minor league camp, including Andrew Carpenter, Sergio Escalona and Mike Cervenak.

Manuel thinks the Phils may have hit bleeping rock bottom with the 12-0 loss.

There’s still something wrong with Cole Hamels’ elbow.


Altogether better

Last week I wrote that the Phillies bullpen was very good at preventing extra-base hits and especially home runs in 2008. It would be nice to see the Phils continue that success in 2009 and hopefully they will. It’s important to be aware, though, that many of the pitchers in last year’s pen allowed extra-base hits at a rate far below their career levels prior to 2008. Here’s a look at five guys who faced at least 200 hitters in relief for the Phils in 2008 who will be part of the ’09 picture as well, comparing the rate at which they allowed extra-base hits last year compared to what they had done the rest of their careers:

pabetweenxbh.jpg

Condrey allowed extra-base hits more regularly in 2008 than he had over the rest of his career, giving up one every 11.7 plate appearances in ’08 compared to one every 12.7 plate appearances for the rest of his career. The other four guys in the group were better at preventing extra-base hits, and all of them were better at it by a larger margin than Condrey was worse. The most improvement compared to his career numbers coming into ’08 was shown by Durbin — Durbin had allowed an extra-base hit every 11.2 plate appearances coming into the season and allowed one every 21.5 plate appearances in ’08. Lidge was second, he had allowed an extra-base hit every 15.2 plate appearances coming into ’08 and allowed one every 22.5 during ’08.

So Lidge was better at preventing extra-base hits in ’08, but the improvement relative to his overall rate of preventing overall hits in 2008 was not as dramatic as it was for Durbin.

Here are how many plate appearances there were between home runs on average for the five pitchers in 2008 compared to the rest of their careers:

pahr.jpg

Lidge faced 292 hitters in ’08 and just two of them homered. The first was memorable. On July 25, Lidge started the ninth against the Braves down 1-0. Atlanta scored seven times in an inning punctuated by a grand slam by Brian McCann off of Lidge. Lidge was charged five runs in the game without getting an out. It was one of two games in the season in which he allowed more than one run in a game — he allowed as many runs in that game as he had in his first 35 appearances on the year. The other home run came less than ten days later. On August 3, Lidge started the ninth up 5-3 and allowed a solo homer to Troy Glaus. Lidge pitched out of a bases loaded jam and the Phils held on to win 5-4.

Anyway, back to the point and the point is that Lidge allowed home runs at a much better rate in 2008 than he had over his career.

Durbin was also very good compared to the other years of his career, but not quite as good as Lidge. Also notable is how frequently Durbin had given up homers coming into 2008.

Romero actually allowed home runs at a tiny bit higher rate compared to his career coming into 2008. Previous to 2008 he had allowed a home run once every 51.5 plate appearances. In 2008 he gave up five home runs to the 255 hitters he faced — that’s one every 51 plate appearances.

Madson and Condrey were better at preventing home runs than they had been in previous years, but not by as wide a margin as Lidge or Durbin.

The Phillies played three games since the last post, during which Feliz and Utley each saw their first spring action. The Phils won two of three and are 6-9 in spring training.

Utley played today as the Phils beat St Louis 2-1. Park made the start and was outstanding again. He allowed three singles in 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out six and lowered his spring ERA to 1.54. In 11 2/3 innings this spring he has thrown to an 0.86 ratio, allowing ten hits without walking a batter.

Jason Ellison doubled in Miguel Cairo in the ninth to get the Phils the win. Utley was 0-for-2. Werth 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. Cairo 2-for-2 to raise his average to .370. Giles 0-for-1 to drop his to .167. Mayberry 0-for-1. Donald 0-for-3.

Yesterday the Phils beat Houston 5-2.

Carrasco got the start and allowed a run on four hits and two walks over three innings. He struck out four. Borkowski threw a scoreless fourth, walking two. Andrew Carpenter had a nice outing in what’s been a miserable spring for him. He struck out four while allowing a run over four innings. Koplove pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a save, striking out two and allowing a single.

Werth was 1-for-2 with a walk, a homer and two RBI. Ozuna was at DH and went 3-for-4 with three singles and a stolen base. Donald was 1-for-4 with a single and two stolen bases. His career high in stolen bases in the minor leagues is 12 and he’s been safe in 28 of 38 minor league attempts (74%). Giles was 0-for-4 and left five men on base. Mayberry 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

On Friday, the Pirates beat the Phillies 6-5.

Blanton got the start and allowed two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. The Phils took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning, but Blaine Neal allowed a three-run homer to Jeff Salazar.

Howard hit a two-run homer for the Phils. Mayberry was 1-for-3 with a double and struck out twice. Donald 2-for-5 with a triple. Giles 0-for-2. Cairo 1-for-3 with a single and an RBI. Feliz played third and went 0-for-2.

On Saturday, Puerto Rico beat Team USA 11-1. Victorino was 0-for-3. Rollins played but didn’t get an at-bat. Romero did not pitch for Puerto Rico. Team USA plays The Netherlands tonight and the team that loses is eliminated from the tournament. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela tomorrow night, but the loser is not eliminated. Rodrigo Lopez and Team Mexico play Korea tonight.

The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow afternoon. Kyle Kendrick is expected to pitch and needs to pitch well off of two miserable appearances.

Utley appears to be on schedule to play opening day.

Update 3/16/09: Team USA beat The Netherlands 9-3. Rollins had a big day, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a home run and four RBI. Victorino was 0-for-1. Korea beat Mexico 8-2. Lopez did not pitch.

More update 3/16/09: Cole Hamels has a sore elbow and will fly back to Philadelphia tonight to have the elbow examined by the team physician. That can’t be that good.


Okay, then, stay in my yard

By almost any measure, the Phillies had the best bullpen in the National League in 2008. Phils’ relievers pitched to an NL-best 3.22 ERA and allowed fewer runs per inning than the relievers for any other team in the league.

But what was it that they did that was exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the league? Not that they necessarily had to do any one thing — they could have been a little bit better than average in a lot of ways. I mentioned yesterday that one thing that wasn’t exceptional about the pen in ’08 was the number of walks they issued. They actually walked more batters than the average bullpen in the league. They also didn’t prevent hits at an exceptional rate. Here are the rates that the average NL bullpen recorded hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings in 2008 along with what the Phillies did:

bbhsoper9.jpg

The Phillies relievers did do a better job of preventing hits than the average NL bullpen, but not by a whole lot. They walked more batters and struck out more. Here it is in a chart that shows the average rates for NL bullpens for 2008 for hits, walks and strikeouts along with the rates for the Phillies and their rank in the NL in those categories relative to other NL relief corps:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
H per 9
8.72 8.50 7 0.97
BB per 9 3.83 3.93 9 1.03
SO per 9 7.57 7.66 5 1.01

So per nine innings pitched, the Phillies relievers allowed about 97% of the hits, 103% of the walks and got 101% of the strikeouts that the average pen would have gotten. They were the fifth-best in the 16-team league at striking hitters out, but the numbers for allowing walks and hits were near the middle of the pack.

What is exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the NL last year is this:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

Again, per nine innings pitched, the Phils allowed 88% of the extra-base hits of an average NL pen and 72% of the home runs. Their rate of allowing extra-base bases hits was third-best in the league and the rate of allowing home runs was the best.

The overall success at preventing extra-base hits has a lot to do at how good the Phillies relievers were at preventing home runs. Compared to the other NL teams, their rate of preventing doubles and triples was not nearly as outstanding as their rate at preventing home runs.

hxb2bhr1.jpg

And here it is in table form:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
2B + 3B per 9 1.93 1.84 7 .96
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

The rate at which they prevented doubles and triples simply wasn’t as extraordinary as the rate at which they prevented home runs. While they were third overall among NL pens at preventing extra-base hits, they were just seventh in preventing doubles and triples. None of this is to say there was any one factor that made the bullpen great overall in 2008, or that all of the areas mentioned in the post are equally important, but in some areas the Phils’ relievers were much more dominant than others.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 to drop to 4-8 in spring training. Another nice outing by Happ was the best news of the day for the Phils.

Moyer got the start and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk. Happ followed Moyer and allowed a run in three innings, giving up four hits and a walk. The run that Happ allowed came on a solo homer by Gabe Kapler.

Moyer called the outing his worst appearance of the spring. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed he’s not losing his marbles.

Offensively, the Phillies had three hits. Andy Tracy hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to get the Phillies within a run. Cairo was 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his spring average to .318. Mayberry 0-for-3. Donald 0-for-2 with a walk. Paulino 0-for-2, dropping his average to .200. Coste 0-for-1.

Werth was supposed to start the game in center but was scratched with a groin issue. He is expected to play today. I think you should be concerned but not surprised by all the problems Werth is having getting on the field this spring — the roster puts the Phillies in a spot where they’re going to have problems if Werth isn’t ready to go once the season starts. There’s still a lot of time, though.

Burrell was at DH for the Rays and went 1-for-3. He’s hitting .333 this spring.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon.

In the World Baseball Classic, Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch yesterday as Cuba beat Mexico 16-4. Mexico plays Korea on Sunday and Cuba plays Japan.


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