Archive for January, 2010

First things first

In 2009, Phillies pitchers faced 3,492 batters with the bases empty and allowed 112 runs on 111 solo homers and one fluke play. Against the Mets on August 24, Angel Pagan led off the bottom of the first and popped a ball to second. Utley misplayed it. Pagan went for second and Utley threw the ball into left field. Pagan came all the way around to score and Utley was charged with two errors on the play.

Nice hustle by Pagan, but it’s not really the kind of thing you want to build your offense around. Turns out it’s actually pretty tough to score when you come to the plate with the bases empty, especially if you don’t hit a home run.

The Phillies faced 2,769 batters in 2009 with at least one man on base. Those 2,769 plate appearances resulted in 597 runs.

Overall for 2009, the Phillies pitchers faced 55.8% of the batters for the year with the bases empty and those batters accounted for about 15.8% of the runs they allowed. The 44.2% of the batters that they faced with at least on man on base accounted for 84.2% of the runs that they allowed.

Which brings me back to the post from earlier this week about the Phillies pitchers that were most likely to walk a batter when the bases were empty. That’s the kind of thing you want to avoid.

Obviously not all situations with men on base are the same. A man on first is better for the pitching team than having the bases loaded. Still, the difference between the number of runs the Phillies allowed in 2009 when pitching with the bases empty and with a man on first base is pretty significant. Here is the number of batters that the Phillies faced in 2009 with the bases empty and a man on first and how many runs resulted from those plate appearances:

 
PA

R

Bases empty

3,492

112

Man on first

1,160

104

In 2,332 fewer plate appearances with a man on first, the Phillies allowed eight fewer runs than in the plate appearances when the batter came to the plate with the bases empty. Had the Phillies faced the same 3,492 batters that they faced with the bases empty with a man on first and allowed runs at the same rate they would have allowed about 313 runs instead of 104. That’s about 2.8 times as many as they allowed with the bases empty.

Clearly how bad a walk is with the bases empty depends on how many outs there are in the inning. I’m pretty sure it’s hardly ever good, though.

The Phillies were better than average compared to the NL average in terms of allowing walks with the bases empty in 2009. The average NL pitcher walked about 8.0% of the batters he faced with the bases empty. The Phillies walked about 6.6% of the hitters they faced with the bases empty.

Here are the Phillies pitchers who walked more than the league average of 8% of the batters they faced with the bases empty (pitchers in bold faced less than 150 hitters for the Phils for the year):

  % of batters
walked with bases empty
Lidge 8.2
Bastardo 9.5
Kendrick 10.6
Durbin 11.0
Carpenter 13.3
Taschner 14.0
Eyre 16.7
Romero 17.2
Register 33.3

And here is the list of pitchers who walked less than 8% of the batters they faced with the bases empty:

  % of batters
walked with bases empty
Martinez 1.9
Escalona 3.4
Lee 3.7
Walker 3.8
Blanton 5.1
Moyer 5.4
Park 5.6
Hamels 5.9
Lopez 6.0
Madson 6.5
Happ 6.7
Condrey 6.9
Myers 7.6

The other thing you want to try to avoid with the bases empty is allowing a hit. Overall in the NL in 2009, pitchers allowed hits in about 23.3% of the plate appearances with the bases empty. The Phillies allowed them at a little higher rate, about 24.7%. Here’s the list of the Phillies pitchers that allowed hits to more than 23.3% of the batters they faced with the bases empty in 2009:

  % of batters
reach on hit with bases empty
Eyre 23.3
Escalona 24.1
Lidge 24.5
Happ 24.7
Madson 25.3
Hamels 25.6
Blanton 25.6
Moyer 26.2
Myers 26.5
Lee 27.3
Taschner 28.1
Martinez 29.8
Carpenter 33.3
Lopez 37.3
Register 66.7

That’s a long list. Much longer than the list of pitchers on the bad side of allowing walks with the bases empty.

It leaves just seven guys for the list of pitchers who allowed a hit to less than 23.3% of the batters they faced with the bases empty:

  % of batters
reach on hit with bases empty
Condrey 16.8
Romero 17.2
Bastardo 17.5
Durbin 18.0
Kendrick 18.2
Park 20.2
Walker 20.5

Again, that list is less impressive than the list of the guys who allowed walks to a lower percentage of hitters with the bases empty than the league average.

There are just three of the 22 pitchers on the team that allowed both hits and walks with the bases empty at rates that were lower than the average for the league: Condrey , Park and Walker.

When you combine hits and walks there were nine pitchers who allowed hits plus walks with the bases empty at a rate that was lower than the league average. Here’s a list of all 22 players, along with the average for the NL for 2009 and their rank on the team:


0.075 Clay Condrey 1
0.069 Tyler Walker 2
0.055 Chan Ho Park 3
0.043 Antonio Bastardo 4
0.037 Sergio Escalona 5
0.025 Kyle Kendrick 6
0.022 Chad Durbin 7
0.006 Joe Blanton 8
0.003 Cliff Lee 9

NL AVERAGE

 
-0.001 J.A. Happ 10
-0.002 Cole Hamels 11
-0.003 Jamie Moyer 12
-0.004 Pedro Martinez 13
-0.005 Ryan Madson 14
-0.014 Brad Lidge 15
-0.028 Brett Myers 16
-0.032 J.C. Romero 17
-0.087 Scott Eyre 18
-0.108 Jack Taschner 19
-0.120 Rodrigo Lopez 20
-0.154 Andrew Carpenter 21
-0.687 Steven Register 22

So, for example, with the bases empty Clay Condrey faced 101 batters. 17 of them (16.83%) got hits and seven of them (6.93%) walked. .1683 plus .0693 is .238. The NL average was to allow 23.3% hits and 8.0% walks, which is 31.3%. .313 minus .238 is .075, which is the best mark for the 22 pitchers on the team. At the other end of the list, Stephen Register faced just three men with the bases empty and allowed two hits and a walk.

The Phillies have signed Danys Baez to a two-year, $5.25 million contract. The righty joins a pen that includes Madson and Durbin and will likely include Lidge and Romero when they are healthy.

The 32-year old righty was miserable in 2007, missed 2008 and pitched well for the O’s in 2009, posting a 4.02 ERA with a 1.13 ratio. Believers in batting average for balls in play might want to take note of the .232 mark for Baez last year, which was the lowest for his career.

This suggests that Eyre will not be back and that Joe Biemel and Will Ohman are free agent candidates as lefty relievers in the bullpen. It also says that the Phils would like to add more depth in the rotation.

The Twins signed Clay Condrey to a one-year deal.

Scott Eyre retired.

The Phillies will invite 13 non-roster players to Spring Training, including Domonic Brown, Joe Savery, BJ Rosenberg (who had fantastic numbers last year), Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.


Walking on empty

During the 2007 season, Phillies pitchers walked 558 batters. That’s too many. Only five NL teams walked more that year. The number of walks the Phillies issued dropped in 2008 and dropped even more in 2009. During the 2009 season, Phillies pitching allowed just 489 walks. St Louis was the only team in the NL to give up fewer walks.

So the Phillies have cut down the number of walks that they issue over the past couple of seasons, which is a very good thing. That’s not today’s point, though. Today’s point is that in 2009 some Phillies pitchers were better at preventing walks with the bases empty than others.

During 2009, Phillies pitcher walked about 6.6% of the batters they faced when the based were empty and about 9.3% of the batters they faced when there was at least one man on base. Not all Phillies pitchers saw that kind of increase in the walks they allowed, though. Some walked batters at a lower rate when the bases were empty in 2009 than they did when there was at least one man on. Of the 22 pitchers who appeared for the Phillies in 2009, nine of them were better at preventing walks when there were men on base than when the bases were empty. The chart below shows, for the nine, the walks they issued per 100 plate appearances with the bases empty, where this ranks among the 22 Phillies pitchers for 2009, the walks they issued per 100 plate appearances with men on base, where this ranks among the ’09 Phillies pitchers and how much higher their rate of walking men with the bases empty was compared to with men aboard as a percentage (pitchers who faced less than 150 batters are in bold):

Player BB per 100
empty
Rank BB per 100
men on
Rank %
Myers 7.6 13 7.6 9 100.1
Taschner 14.0 19 14.0 19 100.6
Carpenter 13.3 18 11.8 16 113.3
Hamels 5.9 8 4.4 4 134.6
Bastardo 9.5 15 7.0 6 136.5
Lee 3.7 3 2.1 2 174.7
Eyre 16.7 20 8.8 11 188.9
Kendrick 10.6 16 4.3 3 243.9
Register 33.2 22 0.0 1 -

So, for example, Cole Hamels walked about 5.9% of the batters he faced with the bases empty (which was fifth-best on the team) and about 4.4% of the batters he faced with men on base (fourth-best on the team). Overall for the year his walk rate with nobody on base was about 135% of what it was with men aboard.

At the bottom of that list, Stephen Register faced just 11 batters all year long for the Phils. He walked one of the three he faced with the bases empty, giving him the worst rate of walks per 100 plate appearances on the team with nobody aboard, but none of the eight hitters he faced with men on base.

Being on the list above doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily good at preventing walks, just that in ’09 you were at least a little bit better at it than you were when there were men on base. Eyre, for example, gave up way too many walks overall, but cut down his rate considerably when there were ducks aboard.

Hamels and Kendrick are the pitchers of that group that seem likely to impact the Phillies in the future. Hamels saw his walk rate drop in 2009 while the rest of his numbers went up. He had a lot more success in 2007 and 2008 than he did in 2009 — in each of those years he rate of walking batters was better with the bases empty than with men aboard, which is the opposite of his results for 2009 (in 2006 his rates were nearly identical).

Kendrick didn’t face a ton of hitters in 2009, but was much better at preventing walks when their were men on base than when there weren’t. His walk rate overall was lower than his miserable 2008, but worse than his mark for 2007 when he was very effective. By opponent OPS, Kendrick was the Phillies best pitcher in 2009 with the bases empty. Opponents hit 203/288/203 against him (12-for-59 with 12 singles and seven walks and a .491 OPS). By comparison, they hit 287/321/393 (.753) against Cliff Lee with the bases empty. Since he didn’t walk anyone with me on base you’d think Kendrick would be pretty much invincible, but sadly despite not walking anyone Kendrick allowed opponents to hit .375 against him with men on base, which will mess things up in a jiffy.

Here’s the numbers for the 13 pitchers who allowed walks more regularly when there were runners on base:

Player BB per 100
empty
Rank BB per 100
men on
Rank %
Romero 17.2 21 18.2 21 105.5
Madson 6.5 10 7.3 8 113.3
Moyer 5.4 6 7.2 7 133.8
Condrey 6.9 12 9.6 12 138.4
Happ 6.7 11 10.1 15 151.2
Lopez 6.0 9 10.0 14 167.5
Durbin 11.0 17 19.7 22 178.5
Blanton 5.1 5 9.9 13 193.9
Lidge 8.2 14 16.2 20 198.2
Walker 3.8 4 8.3 10 216.7
Park 5.6 7 13.4 18 241.5
Martinez 1.9 1 6.9 5 358.6
Escalona 3.4 2 12.9 17 374.2

Remember that overall the Phillies walked about 9.3 batters per 100 plate appearances with men on base and about 6.6 batters with the bases empty. So the average pitcher had a walk rate that was about 141% of his walk rate with the bases empty.

Again, being on this list doesn’t necessarily mean you issued a lot of walks. Pedro, for example, issued walks at about 3 1/2 times his bases empty rate with men on base. His rate of allowing walks with men on base was still fifth-best on the team despite how much more regularly he issued walks with men aboard.

Looking again to the guys who will impact 2010, the rates that Durbin and Lidge issued walks with men on base has to be the scariest data from the chart above. Durbin walked nearly one in five men he faced with runners aboard and Lidge was nearly as bad.

Blanton also saw his rate of walks increase dramatically. With nobody on he was among the best on the team at preventing bases on balls. When men got on base he gave up a lot more and fell to the middle of the pack. Happ started in the middle and saw his rate increase at about the rate that was the average for the team.

Romero just walks a ton of folks regardless of the situation.

Madson and Moyer both walked more with men on base, but not a whole lot more and their rates for allowing walks in both circumstances were pretty good compared to the rest of the team.

This suggests that the Phillies may announce the signing of Danys Baez if he passes his physical this week. Baez missed all of 2008 after Tommy John surgery, but threw to a 4.02 ERA and a 1.13 ratio for Baltimore in 2009.

The article linked above also says that the Phillies have made a minor league offer to Eyre.

Today is the first day that players can file for arbitration. This article talks about what we might expect to happen with Victorino, Blanton, Ruiz and Durbin.


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