Archive for November, 2010

Huh?

It doesn’t happen very often, hardly ever, actually, but someone in the front office for the Phils has said something so surprising it requires immediate attention. Take it away, Ruben Amaro, from today’s Inquirer:

Though Amaro never spoke specifically about negotiations with Jayson Werth’s agent Scott Boras, he did send another signal that the Phillies are ready to move on without their free-agent rightfielder, even talking about him in the past tense at times.

“I’m not going to discuss Jayson Werth,” Amaro said. “I talked to Scott about a bunch of his free agents.”

Amaro, however, did bring Werth into the discussion when asked about leftfielder Raul Ibanez’ 2010 season.

Ibanez “was still a pretty productive player and . . . his numbers are not all that different from Jayson’s last year,” he said. “What did [Ibanez] have, 83 RBIs? Jayson had 85. [Ibanez] didn’t have as many opportunities as Jayson did to drive in runs.

“Clearly, Jayson had more runs scored [106 for Werth and 75 for Ibanez] and his on-base percentage and stuff were better, but [Ibanez] had 37 doubles and five triples. . . . The difference in their production was not all that great.”

Yes it was. And if Ruben Amaro doesn’t know that, the Phillies are in a whole lot of trouble.

I’m of the opinion that Werth was probably the fifth-best offensive outfielder in all of baseball last season. Ibanez really definitely wasn’t. It’s pretty hard to argue that Ibanez is a better defensive player than Werth.

Also, “on-base percentage and stuff”? Please? No, seriously, please? Can we get some kind of a do-over where we all get to pretend that never, ever happened? I’m holding out hope that he misspoke and what he meant by “on-base percentage and stuff” was actually “everything measurable in the world except for RBI.” It leaves me with this horrid vision of a round table discussion in the front office where they have the offensive production for players divided into two categories: RBI and “on-base percentage and stuff.”

For the record, on-base percentage and stuff is more important.

Among other things, Werth out produced Ibanez in 2010 in doubles, home runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. He stole more bases, scored more runs, hit into fewer double-plays and made fewer outs. The offensive production of the two players wasn’t close:

PA 2B HR
Ibanez 636 37 16 275/349/444
Werth 652 46 27 296/388/532

Werth’s OPS was 128 points higher than Ibanez’s. He out on-based him .388 to .349. Among the 183 NL players with 200 plate appearances, Werth’s .532 slugging percentage was 17th-best in the league. Ibanez’s .444 was 59th.

Here’s their runs created per 27 outs for 2010 and their NL rank among the 160 NL players with 250 plate appearances for the season:

Runs
created per 27 outs
NL Rank
Werth 7.51 4
Ibanez 5.37 55

On the plus side, I find it pretty hard to believe that Amaro feels Ibanez and Werth had similar offensive seasons in 2010. But while I don’t know what he’s trying to do, I don’t think telling people that there wasn’t a lot of difference between what Werth and Ibanez did last year offensively isn’t likely to help him do it.

The Phils signed lefty Dan Meyer to a minor league deal, which is a great move. A former first-round pick of the Braves, Meyer is 29-years-old and threw to a 3.09 ERA and a 1.17 ratio for the Fish in 2009. That’s the only year of his career in which he’s thrown more than 30 innings in a season. He’s been hit hard in his non-’09 action, throwing to a 7.97 ERA with a 1.95 ratio over 55 1/3 innings.


Jayson versus Jason

Over the last few weeks we’ve heard that Jayson Werth should or will get a contract that compares well to recent contracts signed by Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. All three of those guys are about the same age — Werth and Bay will be entering their 32-year-old season while Holliday will be entering his 31-year-old season. Here’s how some of their offensive numbers for the past three seasons compare:

PA 2B HR OPS
Holliday 1968 122 77 315/397/528 925
Werth 1810 88 87 279/376/513 889
Bay 1709 84 73 273/371/499 870

The first thing is that it’s almost impossible to deny that, as good as Werth is, Holliday is a better offensive player. By OPS+, Holliday was better than Werth in 2008 (138 to 121), 2009 (139 to 129) and 2010 (149 to 145).

2008, 2009 and 2010 and the only years that Werth has been a full time player. Prior to 2008, Werth had never gotten 400 plate appearances in a season. Here’s how the numbers for the trio’s careers prior to 2008 compare:

PA 2B HR OPS
Holliday 2345 150 103 319/380/556 935
Werth 1129 50 131 259/352/430 782
Bay 2589 129 118 281/375/515 890

Werth isn’t close to either Bay or Holliday when you compare what the three players did offensively before 2008.

Finally, there’s no question that Werth was a whole lot better than Jason Bay in 2010. That wasn’t the case in 2008 and 2009, though. Here’s some of the numbers for those two for ’08 and ’09 combined:

PA 2B HR OPS
Werth 1158 42 60 270/369/503 871
Bay 1308 64 67 277/378/529 907

Again, Werth was way better than Bay in 2010. But there’s no case he was better than Bay prior to 2008 and no case he was better than Bay 2008-2009.

The other thing you need to consider is simply that the fact that Holliday and Bay got the contracts they did doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good contracts. Just about nobody, for example, can feeling real good about the four year, $66 million deal that Bay got before his miserable 2010 season. St Louis is probably feeling a little better about the seven years, $120 million for Holliday, but there’s a chance they might be feeling differently by the time 2015 rolls around.

Roy Halladay won the NL Cy Young award.

The Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. Really they did.

It looks like the Fish will sign catcher John Buck.

Charlie Manuel fifth for Manager of the Year.


In the company of men who can hit

Fun for today is trying to find the outfielders in either league that were better than Jayson Werth offensively in 2010. Your mileage may vary.

Here’s the outfield guys that finished ahead of Werth in runs created and runs created per 27 outs as calculated by ESPN and in offensive war (as calculated by Baseball-Reference) in 2010:

Runs Created Runs Created per 27 outs Offensive WAR
Jose Bautista Josh Hamilton Jose Bautista
Carlos Gonzalez Carlos Gonzalez Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton Jose Bautista Shin-Soo Choo
Matt Holliday Nelson Cruz Matt Holliday

Toronto’s Jose Bautista and Texas’s Josh Hamilton are ahead of Werth in all three of those categories. Bautista hit 54 home runs and on-based .378 for the year. Hamilton hit 359/411/633 for the year. Both of those guys need to be on any list of outfielders who were better than Werth offensively in 2010.

After that things get a little less clear. There are four players that are better than Werth in at least one of the three categories in the table above, but worse in at least one other. They are Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo.

Carlos Gonzalez finished ahead of Werth in runs created and runs created per 27 outs, but behind him in offensive war. Werth got 16 more plate appearances than Gonzalez and hit seven fewer home runs while batting .296 to Gonzalez’s .336. He hit 12 more doubles, but seven fewer triples. He walked more than twice as many times as Gonzalez and put up the better on-base percentage, .388 to .376. Gonzalez hit 289/322/453 away from home while Werth hit 270/365/463. Gonzalez drove in 117 runs and Werth drove in 85. Werth had an OPS+ for the year of 145, Gonzalez 143.

Holliday topped Werth in each of the three slash categories except slugging, where they tied. He outhit him .312 to .296 and on-based .390 to Werth’s .388. In 23 more plate appearances, Holliday struck out 54 fewer times than Werth. Holliday’s OPS+ of 149 tops Werth’s 145.

Cruz got just 445 plate appearances on the season, but outhit Werth .318 to .296 and out-slugged him .576 to .532 with an OPS+ of 150. Werth drew walks more regularly, so despite the fact that Cruz’s batting average was twenty-two points higher, he posted the better on-base percentage (.388 for Werth and .374 for Cruz).

Choo hit 300/401/484 in his 646 plate appearances with an OPS+ of 148. Werth had six more plate appearances and hit five more homers and 15 more doubles. Choo drew 83 walks to Werth’s 82 and struck out 29 fewer times.

In my mind, Gonzalez and Holliday were both better than Werth. I think it’s very close between Werth and Choo, but I would give the slight nod to Werth. I think Cruz has the weakest case of those four players, just because he had so many fewer chances to hit in 2010.

So that’s four on my list: Hamilton, Bautista, Gonzalez and Holliday.

The next question needs to be if there are outfielders that didn’t appear on the table above that could have been better than Werth offensively in 2010. My nominations for the four most productive outfielders not on the table above are Carl Crawford, Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen and Vernon Wells.

Crawford may be the guy with the best case there, but I think that Werth has him beat. Five more plate appearances for Werth in which he hit eight more home runs, 16 more doubles and drew 36 more walks. Crawford outhit him .307 to .298 and delivered 11 more triples and stole 34 more bases while striking out 43 fewer times. Better power numbers and the better on-base percentage gives Werth an OPS that’s 70 points better than Crawford’s for the season.

Braun got 32 more plate appearances than Werth and hit fewer home runs and fewer doubles and walked 26 fewer times. He had a nice season, but he wasn’t better than Werth.

So did Andrew McCutchen. But, in one more plate appearance than Werth had fewer doubles, fewer homers and fewer walks. Werth out-OPSed him by more than a hundred points.

Wells hit 44 doubles and 31 homers, but on-based just .331 for the season. Corey Hart had a similar year in the NL with not quite as many doubles and a little bit better average, but again I think his .340 on-base percentage keeps him out of the better-than-Werth picture.

That leaves the list at four. Bautista, Hamilton, Gonzalez and Holliday. I think Choo and Crawford are right behind them, with Werth having had a slightly better year offensively than both of those players.

This article compares Werth and Crawford. It also says that Werth’s agent says Werth is worth more than Jason Bay, who got four years, $66 million from the Mets last winter. Bay had a miserable year for New York in which he hit 259/347/402 with six home runs and struck out at a higher rate than Werth (22.7% of PA for Bay and 22.5% for Werth).


Elbow gloom

Placido Polanco started 2010 on a roll. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBI on opening day and was hitting 397/403/586 for the year at the start of the day on April 21 . He didn’t make it through that game, though. He was drilled on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch and suffered an injury that would impact the rest of his season.

Polanco was able to stay on the field through most of the year and contributed several key hits in the post-season before off-season surgery at the end of last month. He wasn’t hitting .397 or slugging .586 anymore by the time the year came to an end, though. The Phils put him on the DL on June 26 and he returned on July 17. From July 21 to the end of the season, Polanco hit 280/331/345 over 321 plate appearances. Things seemed to get worse as the season progressed and any power he had was all but drained. From August 18 to the end of the regular season, Polanco got 181 plate appearances in which he hit 241/306/290.

That’s all about the injury, though, and we should expect him back pounding the ball again in 2011. Right?

Maybe so. But my problem with that is this: Polanco’s numbers from 2010 and his numbers from 2009 look awfully similar:

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
’09 DET 675 285 331 396 727
’10 PHI 602 298 339 386 726

Tim Hudson might have ruined his 2010 season by hitting him with a pitch, but it’s harder to see how that ruined his 2009 season. Polanco walked at nearly identical rates in ’09 and ’10 — 5.33% in ’09 and 5.32% in ’10. He hit more singles in 2010 than in 2009, but delivered fewer extra-base hits and the ones he did deliver went for fewer bases. The 2010 season continued a downward trend for Polanco in terms of how regularly he’s delivered extra-base hits and how good they are when they come:

Year PA per XBH TB per XBH
2007 13.4 2.44
2008 14.0 2.42
2009 15.0 2.53
2010 17.2 2.40

Polanco hit ten home runs for the Tigers in 2009, which is the most he has hit since hitting 17 in 2004. That helped him shoot his total bases per extra-base hit up in 2009. Everything else on that list is bad, though, as the extra-base hits are definitely getting less and less frequent.

This suggests that Werth could be looking for seven years, $120 million. I don’t think he’s going to get that, but I’m close to 100% sure he’s not going to get it from the Phillies.

This article suggests the Phils, Nationals, Angels, Tigers and Red Sox may be the teams most interested in trying to land Werth. The Nationals? That would be surprising to me.

Jamie Moyer hurt his elbow again and talks about his time with the Phillies in the past tense. Moyer is a free agent and hoped to pitch in 2011.

John Mayberry strained his calf after just one game in the AFL. The same article says that Domonic Brown and David Herndon will report for winter ball next week.


In trouble?

In recent posts I’ve suggested that the sluggishness of the offense had to do with the problems the team had hitting right-handed pitching this season. You can also look at it as a problem with the offensive production in the infield.

As I mentioned before, the Phillies catchers, led by Carlos Ruiz, were very good offensively last year as the Phils posted the second-best OPS at the position overall.

So the problem isn’t with the catchers.

It’s not in the outfield, either. It might be in 2011 if Werth leaves, but it wasn’t in 2010.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot left.

The table below shows what the players playing at the four infield positions, first, second, third and short, combined to do in 2010 compared the players at the same positions for the other NL teams. The teams are ordered by OPS.


2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Cincinnati 163 10 89 352 0.287 0.355 0.462 0.817
Florida 145 11 87 378 0.277 0.347 0.448 0.795
Arizona 136 23 102 339 0.254 0.332 0.450 0.781
Milwaukee 120 16 88 327 0.263 0.349 0.428 0.777
Washington 128 12 85 315 0.272 0.339 0.436 0.776
Colorado 116 13 74 336 0.271 0.350 0.420 0.771
Atlanta 145 9 67 334 0.275 0.349 0.419 0.768
San Francisco 135 13 66 307 0.274 0.334 0.418 0.752
Philadelphia 115 15 72 340 0.268 0.336 0.410 0.745
NY Mets 129 20 64 290 0.257 0.329 0.405 0.734
St. Louis 114 9 63 301 0.264 0.336 0.396 0.732
San Diego 114 8 63 292 0.267 0.336 0.393 0.730
Chicago Cubs 127 13 55 271 0.269 0.325 0.395 0.720
LA Dodgers 133 16 41 273 0.263 0.336 0.382 0.718
Pittsburgh 135 11 60 274 0.246 0.303 0.386 0.688
Houston 118 10 42 273 0.254 0.313 0.364 0.677

By OPS, the Phillies’s infielders were ninth-best offensively in the NL in 2010. The Phils were in the middle of the pack or worse in average (eighth), on-base percentage (tenth) and slugging (ninth) by their infielders. Only the Cardinals and Padres saw their infielders hit fewer doubles than the Phils this season.

Ninth-best offensively in the league isn’t what the Phillies are looking for. Wilson Valdez’s 363 plate appearances on the year (353 of which came as an infielder) are part of the problem, but not all of it. The team is built around the very reasonable belief that Utley and Howard are elite offensive players and they weren’t in 2010.

The outfielders, on the other hand, were just fine.


2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
St. Louis 128 9 71 265 0.288 0.358 0.478 0.835
Colorado 106 32 71 261 0.283 0.348 0.481 0.828
Philadelphia 120 17 70 274 0.277 0.351 0.470 0.821
Milwaukee 124 12 70 273 0.280 0.337 0.463 0.800
Chicago Cubs 122 12 67 253 0.266 0.334 0.450 0.784
Cincinnati 84 16 72 257 0.265 0.332 0.445 0.777
LA Dodgers 102 13 66 255 0.266 0.327 0.437 0.765
San Francisco 111 14 68 235 0.253 0.328 0.437 0.764
Pittsburgh 104 13 42 194 0.273 0.339 0.411 0.750
Arizona 106 9 54 232 0.259 0.333 0.416 0.749
Florida 100 18 49 201 0.260 0.329 0.410 0.739
Atlanta 103 13 40 208 0.250 0.338 0.389 0.728
Washington 72 17 52 197 0.244 0.329 0.390 0.720
NY Mets 92 19 41 222 0.258 0.324 0.395 0.718
Houston 93 12 51 217 0.261 0.317 0.401 0.718
San Diego 70 13 44 207 0.232 0.316 0.362 0.678

By OPS, the guys playing the outfield positions were third-best in the NL last season. Only two NL teams got more home runs from their outfielders and the Reds and the Rockies both hit just one more than the 70 for the Phils. The Phillies got 274 RBI from their guys playing the outfield, which was the most in the league. Only the Cards had a better on-base percentage.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Phils were among the best offensive teams in both the infield and the outfield.

Here, for example, is how the numbers looked for the infielders in 2007:


2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Florida 180 18 114 381 0.290 0.361 0.505 0.866
Milwaukee 133 18 134 382 0.274 0.357 0.503 0.861
Philadelphia 156 28 112 418 0.287 0.363 0.497 0.860
Atlanta 162 17 91 359 0.295 0.368 0.478 0.846
NY Mets 140 16 86 336 0.285 0.365 0.454 0.818
Colorado 150 16 74 375 0.289 0.368 0.447 0.815
Cincinnati 150 13 86 353 0.288 0.347 0.457 0.804
Chicago Cubs 157 14 65 326 0.289 0.355 0.440 0.795
Arizona 137 22 70 317 0.267 0.345 0.427 0.772
Washington 156 20 61 296 0.279 0.340 0.424 0.764
St. Louis 126 7 55 269 0.284 0.352 0.408 0.760
San Diego 159 12 91 349 0.259 0.320 0.438 0.758
Pittsburgh 173 14 55 320 0.278 0.334 0.422 0.757
LA Dodgers 127 13 62 344 0.276 0.338 0.410 0.748
Houston 130 10 70 303 0.266 0.339 0.407 0.746
San Francisco 128 13 52 290 0.249 0.310 0.374 0.684

So, by OPS, in 2010 there were only seven teams that got less production from their infield. As recently as 2007, there were only two teams that got more, and the two that did, the Brewers and the Fish, only did so by a tiny margin. Back in 2007, the guys playing the infield for the Phils combined to hit 112 home runs and drive in a league-high 418 runs. In 2010, Phillies infielders combined to hit 72 home runs and drove in 340 runs.

The outfielders were also slightly better relative to the rest of the league, but the difference wasn’t nearly as dramatic. Here’s what the outfield numbers for 2007 look like:


2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Colorado 117 14 81 330 0.309 0.379 0.508 0.887
Philadelphia 113 11 76 277 0.290 0.379 0.480 0.859
Cincinnati 94 10 91 276 0.277 0.364 0.482 0.845
Houston 125 16 80 302 0.283 0.346 0.490 0.836
NY Mets 108 7 67 281 0.288 0.347 0.460 0.806
Chicago Cubs 129 13 62 258 0.285 0.341 0.461 0.802
San Francisco 97 18 50 200 0.277 0.367 0.429 0.796
Milwaukee 125 15 70 268 0.268 0.327 0.462 0.789
Florida 110 10 57 241 0.267 0.343 0.430 0.773
St. Louis 102 6 68 284 0.271 0.333 0.438 0.771
Pittsburgh 102 14 65 243 0.264 0.335 0.436 0.771
San Diego 99 15 68 234 0.254 0.339 0.429 0.769
LA Dodgers 96 17 35 211 0.293 0.348 0.415 0.763
Atlanta 108 10 59 276 0.269 0.332 0.430 0.762
Arizona 102 16 62 213 0.249 0.316 0.420 0.736
Washington 109 7 46 219 0.256 0.332 0.400 0.732

The Phillies claimed 22-year-old infielder Carlos Rivero off of waivers from the Indians. Rivero has played shortstop almost exclusively in the minors and put up a 255/315/361 line over 2,156 plate appearances.


Things are tough almost all over

The Phillies were second in the NL in runs scored in 2010. That’s great news, but the bad news is that their offensive production fell off compared to the rest of the league at an alarming number of positions. Here is the NL rank by OPS for the Phils at the eight positions over the past three years:

Position 2010 2009 2008
C 2 5 10
1B 6 5 4
2B 5 1 1
3B 14 12 15
SS 11 10 6
LF 5 4 5
CF 4 2 4
RF 1 1 12

Or, to put it another way, relative to the rest of the league and using OPS as the measure, the Phils got worse at six of the eight offensive positions in 2010 compared to 2009:

Position 2009 to 2010
C Better
1B Worse
2B Worse
3B Worse
SS Worse
LF Worse
CF Worse
RF Same

One of the positions where they didn’t get worse was right field, where they seem sure to see a drop off in 2011. Given that Jayson Werth is coming off the best year of his career and probably won’t be on the team anymore, it seems like a good bet they will be worse in right in ’11 than they were in 2010.

Right field, catcher and third base have been the positions where the Phillies had the most opportunities to improve since 2008. And improve they did, at least at catcher, where Ruiz has led the charge from tenth-best by OPS in the NL in ’08 to second-best in 2010, and in right.

No such luck at third base, where the Phils have been in the bottom five in the NL for six straight seasons and probably will be again next year. The last time the Phils were better than twelfth in the league in OPS at third base was 2004, when David Bell hit 291/363/458 with 18 home runs.

If they’ve been bad and stayed bad for a while at third, the bigger area of worry may be the places where they’ve been good recently and weren’t in 2010. From 2008 to 2010 they’ve dropped from first to fifth at second base and from sixth to eleventh at short. Ryan Howard hit 58 home runs while batting .313 in his MVP season in 2006. The Phils led the NL in OPS at first base in that year. Since then their rank has fallen every year — third in 2007, fourth in 2008, fifth in 2009 and sixth in 2010.

The Giants win the World Series. The Giants win the World Series. The Giants win the World Series. And they’re going crazy. Heey-ohh.


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