Archive for March, 2010

And if Hamels is going to pitch like that the Phils better hope Howard gets to hit against the division every day

Question of the day is whether Phillies batters put up much better numbers against their NL East opponents, the Nats, Mets, Fish and Braves, than they do against everyone else.

The answer of the day is that some do and some don’t. Of the eight regular players from 2009, four have a better career OPS against those NL East teams:


Vs Everyone Else
Howard 296 396 629 1.025 265 358 549 906
Ibanez 299 356 565 921 284 346 473 819
Victorino 286 344 438 782 282 349 419 768
Utley 292 385 518 904 298 374 526 900

Big difference for Howard and for Ibanez. Howard’s .629 career slugging over 1,456 plate appearances against the NL East is rather impressive. Ibanez has had just one year with the Phils, but he pounded the division in 2009. Victorino a little better against those NL East teams and Utley about the same.

By OPS, these guys have been worse against the Nats, Mets, Braves and Fish than they have against everyone else over their career:


Vs Everyone Else
Werth 262 361 424 785 266 360 488 849
Ruiz 234 323 366 689 256 348 390 738
Feliz 252 296 399 696 254 292 429 721
Rollins 275 331 431 762 274 328 445 773

Werth has been better against teams outside the NL East. His power numbers are notably down against the Nats, Mets, Braves and Fish — he has an extra-base hit about once every 14.6 plate appearances against those teams compared to about one every 10.4 plate appearances against other teams.

The numbers are less dramatic for Rollins, Feliz and Ruiz, but all three of those players have a higher OPS against competition outside of the Braves, Nats, Marlins and Mets.

Cole Hamels got hammered yesterday as the Phils beat the Yankees 9-7. Hamels went four innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits and a walk. Six of the hits went for extra-bases, four doubles, a triple and a home run. The Phillies got four home runs in the game, including a two-run shot by Wilson Valdez in the bottom of the ninth that broke a 7-7 tie and gave the Phils the win. Polanco and Francisco also both hit home runs in the games. Polanco is batting .394 after a 2-for-4 day. David Herndon and Bastardo followed Hamels and each threw two scoreless innings.

Mike Zagurski was sent down. The linked article says, “Only 12 healthy pitchers remain in camp, which means lefthander Antonio Bastardo and Rule 5 pick David Herndon will make the team. The loser of the fifth-starter’s competition between Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick will take a spot as the long man.”

Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Moyer, Kendrick, Durbin, Madson, Bastardo, Herndon, Baez, Contreras.

If you don’t feel terrified of that bullpen, you should.

Ruiz and Victorino have been battling a flu.

Game oner

The Phillies have been shut out twice in their last three games, which was the story of the weekend until Moyer pitched yesterday against Baltimore. Moyer pitched very well, holding the O’s to a run over five innings, and may be back in control in his competition with Kyle Kendrick to be the team’s fifth starter.

Whoever the fifth starter is, and it sure seems Moyer has a big edge, having both Moyer and Kendrick pitching well to start the season would be a big boost for the Phils.

Moyer is the sixth player to start a game for the Phils this spring. In 15 official spring games, Phillies starters (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Kendrick and Moyer) have combined to throw to a 1.74 ERA with an 0.88 ratio.

Friday the Phillies got one hit, a single by Mayberry, as they fell to Baltimore 2-0. Kendrick allowed two runs on three hits and two walks over five innings, raising his spring ERA to 1.29. Baez and Bastardo each threw scoreless innings in the game, but combined to allow five hits and a walk over two innings. Madson struck out two in a scoreless inning.

On Saturday it was the Tigers shutting the Phils out, this time 3-0. Halladay got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over five innings. His ERA is up to 2.40. Contreras allowed two hits in a scoreless inning and Durbin and Herndon also each threw a scoreless frame. The Phillies didn’t walk in the game.

Yesterday the Phils lost to Baltimore again, this time 5-4. Moyer made his first official start of the spring and was fantastic, holding the O’s to a run on five hits and no walks while striking out six. Baez followed Moyer with two scoreless innings before Zagurski got hit hard in the eighth. Zagurski got two outs and was charged with three runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Down 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Phils scored three runs with the help of a two-run homer from Dobbs. Polanco was back in the lineup for the Phils and went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles to raise his spring average to .379. Rollins was 2-for-3 with a double. He’s hitting .293.

A tale of two in new cities

Polanco isn’t the only veteran to come to Philadelphia in recent years. Pedro Feliz and Raul Ibanez both became regulars for the Phillies after long careers playing for other teams with dramatically different results.

Feliz was miserable, hitting 259/306/393 as a full-time player over more than a thousand at-bats in 2008 and 2009 combined. His .699 OPS as a Phillie was worse than the .721 career OPS he had when he came to Philadelphia.

Ibanez, on the other hand, had the best year of his career in 2009. He hit 272/347/552, setting career highs in home runs and slugging percentage.

Here’s how the percentage of plate appearances each of those players has gotten hits, walks, extra-base hits, doubles and triples and home runs at and away from Citizens Bank Park for their careers:

  % H % BB % XBH % 2B or 3B % HR
Ibanez CBP 22.4 11.9 10.8 6.0 4.9
Everywhere else
25.8 8.4 9.5 5.9 3.6
Feliz CBP 25.1 4.9 7.8 4.9 2.9
Everywhere else
23.5 5.3 8.8 5.4 3.3

For Ibanez, his rate of getting hits is way down at Citizens Bank Park, but his walks are up, his extra-base hits are up a little and his home runs are up a lot.

Feliz is just the opposite — his rate of getting hits went up at Citizens Bank Park, but everything else is down compared to his career numbers everywhere else.

The thing that’s critical to remember about Ibanez’s 2009 year is that his numbers away from Citizens Bank Park were much better than his numbers at it. He hit 260/351/511 at home and 283/343/587 away from home. He blasted 21 home runs and 19 doubles away from home while hitting 13 doubles and 13 homers at home.

In case you were wondering, Lidge won’t be ready for opening day. The article suggests he is trying to be ready for the series with the Astros that starts April 9 in Houston.

The article linked above also says that Happ allowed two runs in five innings in a minor league game yesterday.

This says Polanco may play tonight or, if not, maybe Saturday or Sunday.

I-really-wish-it-were-so effect

Is Placido Polanco going to get more extra-base hits playing in Citizens Bank? Well, over the past three years the Phillies overall haven’t gotten that many more extra-base hits at Citizens Bank Park than they have hitting away from it. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances that Phillies hitters have gotten extra-base hits at home and away from home since the 2007 season:

  XBH PA % of PA
2009 Home 286 3096 9.2
2009 Away 285 3242 8.8
2008 Home 266 3091 8.6
2008 Away 275 3182 8.6
2007 Home 283 3159 9.0
2007 Away 297 3377 8.8

So in 2009, Phillies batters got extra-base hits in about 0.4% more of their plate appearances at home than on the road. In 2008 the rate of getting extra-base hits per plate appearance was actually a tiny bit better on the road and in 2007 it was about 0.2% better at home.

Let’s say that averages out to about 0.2% better overall. That’s one more extra-base hit every 500 plate appearances.

For his career, Polanco has 399 extra-base hits in 6,017 plate appearances (6.63%). He got 675 plate appearances last year — based on his career rate of getting extra-base hits we would have expected 45 extra-base hits. That’s exactly what he had, hitting 31 doubles, four triples and ten home runs. If he had gotten extra-base hits in 0.2 percent more of his plate appearances we would have expected him to have 46 extra-base hits instead of 45. That’s not really a huge difference.

The curious thing, though, is that Polanco has monster numbers at Citizens Bank park in a pretty large number of at-bats. In 381 plate appearances he has hit 334/386/485 with 12 home runs. He only has 90 home runs in his career, so 12 is a lot. He’s gotten 6.3% of his career plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park and he has hit 13.3% of his career homers.

For his career, he has extra-base hits in 7.3% of his PA at Citizens Bank Park — that would be 49 extra-base hits over 675 at-bats instead of 45.

Polanco hit a career-high 17 home runs playing for the Phillies in 2004 — ten of them at Citizens Bank Park and seven on the road. He has hit 40 home runs in five seasons and 2,991 plate appearances since.

So what’s it all mean? Well, we’ll see. My guess is that what you see is what you get with Polanco and we shouldn’t expect big things from the move to Citizens Bank Park. If you know a magic park that makes him walk more, though, now’s the time to speak up.

The Phils topped the Yankees 6-2 in spring training action yesterday. Blanton got the start and allowed two runs over five innings. Contreras followed with two scoreless frames and Escalona and Durbin each pitched a scoreless inning. After walking two in his inning, Escalona now has an 11.25 ERA and a 2.75 ratio in four spring training appearances. Werth provided the big blow of the game, a three-run homer in the fifth. Rollins and Howard each had two hits.

This says that Romero hopes to pitch in the series against the Nationals that starts April 12. It also says that Polanco may play tomorrow and Utley has not played since Monday with an upper respiratory infection.

Phils are off today. Happ will pitch in a minor league game.

Sports betting odds and lines available at

Singles night after night after night

Question of the day is if we would all be happy if Polanco hits .300 this year with all singles. There’s exactly zero percent chance that’s going to happen of course, but the answer of the day is no.

If you’re looking for a real player who hit .300 last year with all of his hits going for singles, you’re probably not going to be able to get much closer than Luis Castillo. Castillo hit .302 in 2009 with just 16 extra-base hits for the season. Here’s what his numbers look like:

Luis Castillo, 2009
580 16 .302 .387 .346 .732

So Castillo put up a nifty .387 on-base percentage, but thanks to slugging .346 for the year his OPS was just .732. The average NL team got a .741 OPS from their second baseman in 2009, so, by OPS, Castillo wasn’t an especially good offensive player as a second baseman despite hitting .302.

It would be worse than that for Polanco, who walks less than Castillo did in 2009. In ’09, Castillo walked in 69 of 580 plate appearances. That’s about 11.9%. In his career, Polanco has walked 314 times in 6,017 plate appearances. That’s just 5.2%. Here’s what Polanco’s numbers look like if he hits .300 with all singles but gets walks, hit by pitch and sacrifices at his career levels over the 580 plate appearances that Castillo got in 2009:

Polanco, never happened
580 0 .300 .341 .300 .642

Imaginary Polanco goes 160-for-533 with 30 walks, seven hit by pitches and ten sacrifices. Much worse walk rate plus worse rate of getting extra-base hits make things worse overall. The non-existent Polanco year in which he hit .300 he puts up a miserable .642 OPS, which isn’t good enough to play anywhere. .741 was the average OPS by team for second baseman in the NL last year, but third basemen have to hit a little more — the average OPS by team for third basemen in the NL was up to .752.

So, by OPS, if Polanco were literally to hit all singles and wanted to put up the .752 OPS of an average third baseman while getting walks, hit by pitches and sacrifices at his career levels, here’s what he would need to do:

Polanco, never happened
580 0 .358 .395 .358 .753

If he walked, got hit by pitches and registered sacrifices at his career levels, Polanco would need to hit .358 to post an OPS that was about the same as an average NL third baseman from 2009 if every hit he got was a single.

That’s not going to happen, of course. For his career, Polanco has registered doubles in about 4.6% of his PA, triples in about 0.5% and home runs in about 1.5%. Based on those numbers, over Castillo’s 580 plate appearances we would expect Polanco to put up 27 doubles, three triples and nine home runs.

And if he did that while registering walks etc over 580 plate appearances, he would need to hit a mere .300 to post an OPS that bettered the NL average third base mark in 2009:

Polanco, never happened
580 39 .300 .341 .413 .754

He’s 160-for-533 now, still with the 30 walks and the 39 extra-base hits described above. I think that the answer is not that if Polanco hits .300 with all singles we should be satisfied with his work as an offensive player as a third baseman, but that if he is going to continue to register walks and extra-base hits at his career levels he can be an average third baseman by OPS if he hits .300.

Hamels and Domonic Brown both had big days yesterday as the Phils topped the Tigers 6-1. Hamels allowed an unearned run on two singles over five innings. Brown hit a pair of home runs, one off of Justin Verlander and the other off of Phil Coke, and went 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBI on the day. Bastardo, Madson and Baez all pitched in the game after Hamels and combined to allow one walk over three innings. Bastardo struck out two in a perfect eighth. Howard hit a two-run shot, his first of the spring, to account for the Phillies runs that weren’t driven in by Brown.

Brown was sent to minor league camp after the game.

The article linked above also says that Polanco hopes to play Friday and that Romero will face live batters today.

Lidge is working on holding runners on and, hopefully, remembering to cover third base.

Game on

There may not have been any real competition for the fifth starter’s job when spring training stated, but there is now. Jamie Moyer is going to pitch better than he has or Kendrick is going to pitch worse — both those things are likely, but if neither of them happens I think it’s Kendrick that’s in the rotation to start the season. There’s no question that Kendrick has been better than Moyer in the past few weeks, but I thought it was worth a minute to make sure that Moyer has been better than Kendrick over the last couple of years. He has. Here’s what both have done for the Phillies over the past three seasons:

  IP ERA Ratio R/9
Moyer 557.7 4.53 1.38 4.74
Kendrick 303 4.66 1.46 4.96

You also have to consider the contributions that Moyer has given the Phillies in big games. The most notable of those in recent history was game three of the 2008 World Series, but there have been others. Kendrick’s biggest spot came in his start of game two of the NLDS against the Rockies in 2007 and he allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Moyer has also pitched deeper into games in his starts than Kendrick has. Moyer has gone an average of about 5.92 innings per start of his 91 starts for the Phils in the last three years. Kendrick has gone an average of about 5.52 over his 52 starts.

It’s also not like Kendrick hasn’t gotten a chance. He has. He made 30 starts and 31 appearances in 2008 and was just about as awful as you can be if you’re not a big name closer who won the World Series the previous season, throwing 155 2/3 innings with a 5.49 ERA and a 1.61 ratio.

The Phillies beat the Pirates 5-1 yesterday. Roy Halladay provided still more fantastic starting pitching, allowing a run over five innings to raise his spring ERA to 0.90. David Herndon, Chad Durbin and Ehren Wassermann followed Halladay and combined to allow one single over four scoreless innings. Cody Ransom hit yet another home run. Howard, Werth and Ruiz all had two hits.

Jamie Moyer was hit hard in a B game yesterday, allowing five runs in three innings.

Polanco sprained his right knee in yesterday’s game. He says he might miss two or three days, which surely can’t help his efforts to get comfortable playing third.

Mike Zagurski threw two scoreless innings in a B game yesterday. I still would guess he’s an extreme long shot to start the team, even if Bastardo and Escalona continue to struggle.

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