Archive for December, 2010

Much ado about how much there is to do

One thing to remember when you consider how many innings the new rotation might save the pen in 2011 is that in 2010 the bullpen threw less innings than any other team in the National League. Phillie relievers tossed just 421 innings last year, the fewest in the league by a fairly wide margin. The Arizona Diamondbacks were 15th in the NL in bullpen innings pitched with 439. The Giants were 14th, and they threw 461 innings in relief — 40 more than the Phillies. Only one team in the DH-loving AL threw fewer innings in relief. The Mariners called on their pen to throw 419 1/3 innings, which was 1 2/3 less than the Phillies.

So even before adding Cliff Lee to the rotation, and even without a full year of Oswalt, the Phillies were already calling on their bullpen to throw fewer innings than any team in their league and almost any other team in baseball.

For the last three seasons, the Phils have been in the bottom half in the NL in terms of innings pitched in relief. In two of the three years they have been among the three teams that threw the fewest innings in relief.

Here’s the number of innings the Phillies bullpen has thrown per season over the past five years and their rank in innings pitched in relief in the NL for that year:

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief
2010 421 16
2009 492 9
2008 483 14
2007 520 8
2006 539 4

In 2006, the Phillies threw 539 innings in relief. Only three teams in the NL threw more innings in relief that year, the Mets, Nationals and Cubs. By 2008, only two NL teams (the Brewers and the Diamondbacks) threw fewer innings in relief than the Phils. In 2010, the Phils were 16th in the 16-team league in innings pitched by their relievers (no NL team threw fewer).

There is bad news, though, and that’s that the bullpens, with one notable exception, have generally not gotten better at preventing runs as the number of innings they throw relative to the rest of the league goes down. The table below has the same three columns as the table above, but adds the NL rank for runs allowed per inning in relief for each year.

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief NL Rank R/IP in relief
2010 421 16 8
2009 492 9 9
2008 483 14 1
2007 520 8 13
2006 539 4 3

In 2006, the bullpen was throwing a ton of innings, but they were also allowing fewer runs per inning pitched in relief than every bullpen in the league except for the Mets and the Padres. Last year the bullpen threw fewer innings than any other team in the league, but their effectiveness in terms of runs allowed per innings pitched was in the middle of the pack. 2008 is the only year in the last four in which the bullpen excelled at preventing runs. In that year the Phils were near the bottom of the league in bullpen innings pitched and at the very top in terms of runs allowed per inning pitched. You may recall that things turned out well for the team that year.

JC Romero appears to be headed back to the Phils. Five guys in the pen at this point: Romero, Baez, Contreras, Madson and Lidge. Many articles, including this post, suggest that the addition of Romero makes it less likely the Phils would bring back Durbin.


Deeper still

Quick — who allowed fewer runs per start in 2010, Cole Hamels or Roy Halladay?

I’m guessing Halladay is your answer. Or at least it would have been mine before I looked it up. But it’s a trick question. Both Halladay and Hamels made 33 starts for the Phils last season and each of them allowed 74 runs, which is 2.24 runs per game.

They didn’t have the same ERA, of course. It wasn’t close. Hamels 3.06 and Halladay 2.44. Hamels had a higher percentage of the runs he allowed go as earned runs (if all of the runs that both pitchers allowed were earned, Hamels would have thrown to a 3.19 ERA and Halladay a 2.65 ERA) but that’s not the biggest factor in accounting for the difference. As you surely know, the reason that Halladay’s ERA was so much better and Halladay’s year was so much better was that Halladay pitched way more innings. Halladay threw 250 2/3 innings in his 33 starts compared to 208 2/3 innings for Hamels in his 33 starts.

The 208 2/3 innings that Hamels threw is still a lot — only 13 pitches in the NL threw more than that in 2010. But it’s not 250 2/3. Nobody in the NL threw more than that in 2010. Nobody was close. Chris Carpenter finished second in the NL in innings pitched behind Halladay with 235.

There were 39 NL pitchers that made at least 30 starts in 2010. Of those 30, four of them (Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Kendrick) pitched at least part of the year for the Phillies. Of those four, Halladay and Oswalt threw an unusual high number of innings per start, Kendrick threw an unusually low number of innings per start and Hamels was in the middle.

GS IP/S Rank IP/S
among the 39 NL pitchers with at least 30 starts
Halladay 33 7.60 1
Oswalt 32 6.61 8
Hamels 33 6.32 17
Kendrick 33 5.83 36

Again, among the NL pitchers making at least 30 starts, Halladay and Oswalt had unusually high numbers in terms of innings per start, Hamels was in the middle of the pack and Kendrick was near the bottom.

In 2011, the Phils will presumably go into the season with Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Lee as their first four starters. How many innings might that save their bullpen is that group stays in the rotation for a full season?

Last year the Phillies threw a total of 1,456 1/3 innings. The starters combined to throw 1,035 1/3 innings and the pen threw 421 innings. The starters on the 2010 Phillies that weren’t Halladay, Oswalt or Hamels threw an average of 5.88 innings per game.

The table below looks at how many innings the rotation and pen might throw in 2011 if

  1. The Phillies overall (starters and relievers combined) threw the same 1,456 1/3 innings in 2011 as they did in 2010.

  2. Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt all threw the same number of innings per start in 2011 as they did in 2010.
  3. Lee threw the same 6.44 innings per start in 2011 as he has over his career (206 of his 218 career starts have come in the AL — in his 12 career NL starts he has thrown 6.64 innings per start).
  4. The Phillies starting pitchers who aren’t Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Lee will throw the same 5.88 innings per start in 2011 that they did in 2010.

IP/S IP 25 Starts IP 30 Starts IP 32 Starts IP 35 Starts
Halladay 7.60 190 228 243.2 266
Oswalt 6.61 165.3 198.3 211.5 231.4
Hamels 6.32 158 189.6 202.2 221.2
Lee 6.44 161 193.2 206.1 225.4
Total for
four
674.3 809.1 863 944
Starts by
other SP
62 42 34 22
IP by other
SP
364.6 247 199.9 129.4
Total IP by
SP
1038.8 1056.1 1063 1073.3
Total IP by
pen
417.5 400.3 393.4 383

So, for example, the table above suggests that if each of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Lee made 32 starts in 2011 at the rates defined above, they would combine to throw 863 innings over those 128 starts. The other 34 starts would be made by other pitchers, who would throw 200 innings. That would give the rotation 1,063 total innings pitched and would leave about 393 1/3 innings to be pitched by the bullpen if the staff overall was going to throw the same 1,456 1/3 innings in 2011 they threw in 2010.

Last year, the Phillies starters overall threw 6.39 innings per start. That means Hamels was below the team average at 6.32 and Lee, had he actually made starts for the Phils in 2010 and thrown 6.44 innings per start, would have been very close to the team average. While Lee may have thrown 6.44 innings per start over his career, his numbers over the past three years are way up from that. Over the past three seasons, Lee has made 93 starts in which he has thrown about 7.18 innings per start. In 2010, he made 13 starts for Seattle and threw 103 2/3 innings on a team that would wind up going 61-101 . That’s a ridiculous 7.97 innings per start. It sounds like the kind of thing that might not even be that good for you.

The difference between 7.18 innings per start and 6.44 innings per start is a lot of innings (a little more than 22 over 30 starts). Even the difference between Lee’s 6.64 innings per start (what he threw in his 12 starts with the Phillies in ’09) and his career mark of 6.44 innings per start adds up. If you replace the 6.44 innings per start for Lee with 6.64 , the TOTAL IP BY PEN numbers at the bottom of the table would switch from 417.5, 400.3, 393.4, 383 to 412.5, 394.3, 387 and 376.

Also important to consider is that while it’s true that the non-Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt starters for the Phils in 2010 combined to throw 5.88 innings per start in 2010, they could easily throw fewer than that in 2011. Blanton was the guy outside of the big three who made the most starts and he went pretty deep into games, throwing 174 2/3 innings over 28 starts or 6.24 innings per game. That inflates the number for the group. By comparison, the group of Kendrick, Happ, Figueroa and Worley combined to make 37 starts in which they threw an average of 5.62 innings per game.

The deal with Dennys Reyes fell through and this article says that JC Romero is still hoping to come back to the Phillies.


You again?

Remember this from last week?

Starts Team RA Team RA
per start
Games not
started
Team RA
those games
Team RA
per game not started
Hamels 33 117 3.55 129 523 4.05
Halladay 33 90 2.73 129 550 4.26
Oswalt 12 25 2.08 150 615 4.10
Kendrick 31 148 4.77 131 492 3.76
Blanton 28 150 5.36 134 490 3.66
Moyer 19 91 4.79 143 549 3.84
Others 6 19 3.17 156 621 3.98
Total 162 640 3.95

Here’s another way to look at it, dividing the games up into those in which Kendrick, Blanton or Moyer started and the games in which they didn’t:

# PHI runs
allowed per game
Games started
by Blanton, Kendrick, Moyer
78 4.99
Games not
started by Blanton, Kendrick or Moyer
84 2.99

One thing that’s a lock at this point is that Blanton, Kendrick and Moyer won’t be combining to make 78 starts this season. Even if Blanton is with the team on opening day, he’s coming off the worst year of his career and a good candidate to get a lot better in 2011. In 2010, he allowed 5.33 runs per nine innings for the Phils. In 2008 and 2009, he allowed 125 runs in 266 innings, which is about 4.23 runs per nine innings. In 2009, Blanton made 31 starts in which he threw to a 4.05 ERA and the Phillies allowed 4.42 runs per game in those starts.

If Blanton made 31 starts for the Phillies next year, the difference between the team allowing 5.36 runs per game in those starts (like they did in 2010) or 4.42 (like they did in 2009) is about 0.94 runs per game. That’s more than 29 runs over 31 starts.

The point there is that, either with Blanton or with someone else getting Blanton’s starts in ’11, the Phillies should be able to improve on his 2010 production without much problem and should benefit significantly by doing so.

The games not started by Blanton, Kendrick or Moyer were started by a rather impressive group of pitchers. Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt combined to make 78 starts. The other six went to Happ (three), Worley (two) and Figueroa (one).

That group looks like it’s only going to get more impressive with the addition of Cliff Lee. The bad news on that front is that even with the addition of Lee, the Phils aren’t going to allow 2.99 runs per game in 2011 or anywhere close, even in the games started by Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.

Last year Hamels and Halladay combined to make 78 starts in which they threw to a 2.56 ERA over 541 innings. They were great. They’re probably going to be great again, but not that great, mostly because Oswalt’s starts for the Phillies in 2010 were absurdly good. After allowing five runs in six innings against the Nationals in his first start with the Phils, Oswalt threw to a 1.31 ERA over his last eleven starts with the team and ended the year with a 1.74 ERA with the Phils. Of the four members of the quartet, though, none of them has a career ERA near 2.56 and it’s unreasonable to assume they would throw to a 2.56 ERA as a group next year or that the Phillies would allow 2.99 runs per game in the games they started, much less the games they started plus the starts by next year’s Worley, Happs and Figueroas. Of the four big starters for the Phils, Oswalt has the best career ERA at 3.18. Hamels is at 3.53. Lee and Halladay have both spent much of their careers in the American League — Halladay has a career 3.32 ERA and Lee a career 3.85 ERA.


Spread the Roy

In this article, Amaro suggests that the benefit the Phillies get from having the big three, Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt, in the rotation all year in 2011 may offset the offensive loss the Phils are going to suffer having lost Werth.

He says:

Let me put it to you this way: Having those three starters through a full season, I think, negates the difference in the production I think we’ll get from the combination of Ben [Francisco] and [Ross] Gload vs. Werth.

I think it’s tough to try and predict what the Phillies right fielders are going to do next year, mostly because we don’t know who they are going to be. I’m having trouble believing it’s going to be Francisco and Gload. If Ross Gload plays 40 games in the outfield next season he’ll be doing so for the first time in his career at age 35. He has one year of his career in which he has played more than 19 games in the outfield, and that was 2004. I’m not saying it’s not gonna happen, but it’s not gonna happen.

I think it’s pretty tough to predict accurately the number of runs the Phillies are going to allow in starts made by Oswalt next year. What we should be able to do, though, is look at the number of runs they allowed in his starts last year and figure out how many they would have saved in 2010 if he had made more starts and the number of runs the Phillies allowed in games he started and games he didn’t stayed the same.

The table below shows, for each of the Phillies starting pitchers who made at least ten starts, the number of runs the team allowed in their starts and the number of runs the team allowed in the games they didn’t start:

Starts Team RA Team RA
per start
Games not
started
Team RA
those games
Team RA
per game not started
Hamels 33 117 3.55 129 523 4.05
Halladay 33 90 2.73 129 550 4.26
Oswalt 12 25 2.08 150 615 4.10
Kendrick 31 148 4.77 131 492 3.76
Blanton 28 150 5.36 134 490 3.66
Moyer 19 91 4.79 143 549 3.84
Others 6 19 3.17 156 621 3.98
Total 162 640 3.95

So, for example, Hamels made 33 starts for the Phils in 2010. In those 33 starts, the Phillies (not just Hamels, but the relievers who pitched after him in those games as well) allowed 117 runs. That’s 3.55 runs per game. There were 129 games in the 2010 regular season that Hamels did not start. In those games the Phils allowed 523 runs or 4.05 per game.

Oswalt made 12 starts last year. If he had pitched a full season for the Phils, he would have made about 20 more. Based on his 2010 numbers as a Phillie, over 20 starts, Oswalt would have allowed about 41.7 runs. Over those same 20 starts, using the rate for 2010 at which the Phils allowed runs in games not started by Oswalt, they would have allowed about 82.0 runs (4.1 * 20). So, if the 2010 numbers played out over the extra 20 starts, the Phillies would have allowed 40.3 fewer runs on the season by giving 20 more starts to Oswalt.

That’s a ton. You don’t need great production in right field to get within 40.3 runs of what Werth produced in 2010, as good as he was.

So fantastic. No problem here. Bring on the suck in right field. Play anyone you want and we’ll all be fine. Right?

Not right. Oswalt was ridiculously fantastic with the Phils in 2010, throwing to a 1.74 ERA with an 0.90 ratio. In his 12 starts with the Phils, he was better than Halladay and Halladay won the Cy Young. Oswalt isn’t going to be nearly as good with the Phillies in 2011 as he was in 2010.

So, how many fewer runs might the Phillies allow thanks to a full season from Oswalt? I don’t know. But I think a lot less than 40.3 is a good guess.

Here’s a look at the numbers for Oswalt, Hamels and Halladay over 20 games based on the 2010 numbers:

Team RA
per 20 starts
Team RA
per 20 starts by other SP
Runs saved
Hamels 70.9 81.1 10.2
Halladay 54.5 85.3 30.7
Oswalt 41.7 82.0 40.3

The number of runs that the team allows in a game has a lot to do with factors out of the control of the starting pitcher — most important, of course, is how many runs that the team’s bullpen allows in games that pitcher starts. Again, if the Phillies replicated the numbers from 2010 in 2011 exactly, it suggests that they would allow about 40.3 fewer runs by giving Oswalt 20 more starts.

It also suggests that they would allow about 30.7 fewer runs by giving Halladay 20 more starts, though, and Halladay still won the Cy Young award last season. 30.7 is still a lot of runs, but the 10.2 runs saved number for 20 more starts for Hamels isn’t. If we’re going to guess Oswalt’s numbers for next year, I think we’re pretty safe saying that they are going to be closer than the 3.06 ERA and 1.18 ratio that Hamels put up than the 2.44 ERA and 1.04 ratio Halladay put up.

So, bottom line, how many fewer runs are the Phillies going to save in 2011 if they give Oswalt 20 more starts? I don’t know. Neither do you and neither does anybody, no matter what the bullpen does in the games that Oswalt starts. I do think it’s safer to say that it’s a lot closer to 10.2 than it is to 40.3, and if it turns out being anywhere near 10.2, the Phils are going to have trouble getting within 10.2 of the offensive runs created by Werth in 2010.

This says that the Phillies have reached an agreement with 33-year-old left-handed reliever Dennys Reyes and that the Phils will pay Reyes $1.1 million in 2011 with a $1.35 million club option for 2012.

Finally, in news of people you assumed you would never, ever need to have an opinion about, Luke Scott has given a memorable interview.


What now?

It’s no secret the Phils are going to need to add a right-handed outfielder to try and replace some of Jayson Werth’s production. The Phillies already have Ben Francisco, and this article from yesterday mentions as possible additions Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Juan Rivera and Josh Willingham. Matt Diaz won’t be with the Phils this year, cause he just signed with the Pirates, but Jeff Francoeur rumors abound and the same names keep on coming up.

Today’s point is that Josh Willingham is a lot better hitter than the rest of those guys.

Here’s the ’11 age, career numbers and OPS for each of the players mentioned above as well as what they’ve done in the last three years:

’11 Age Career OPS Last 3
years
OPS
Francisco 29 263/329/446 775 263/331/442 773
Francoeur 27 268/310/425 735 256/301/389 690
Diaz 33 301/350/456 806 281/342/438 780
S Hairston 31 245/303/435 737 245/305/432 737
Rivera 32 280/328/461 789 266/314/445 760
Willingham 32 265/367/475 841 260/373/476 850

It’s really not very close. Diaz is the only guy on the list who is really close to Willingham. And Diaz can’t hit right-handed pitching and is on the Pirates. Here’s what the career splits against righties and lefties look like for those guys:

vs R OPS vs L OPS
Francisco 262/323/440 762 267/347/460 806
Francoeur 256/296/403 699 299/343/481 824
Diaz 269/327/382 710 335/373/533 907
S Hairston 227/288/402 690 278/331/498 829
Rivera 276/326/441 768 288/333/499 832
Willingham 264/382/446 828 277/409/500 909

Willingham has the best numbers of those six players against both righties and lefties. All of the other guys on the list have a career on-base percentage against righties that’s under .330. If the question is who is the player besides Willingham on that list who is better than Francisco, I think a reasonable answer is nobody. At least nobody is enough of an improvement to be worth investing in. Rivera has been better over his career, but I don’t think you would have enough confidence that he’s going to be significantly better in 2011 to put both of them on the team next year.

The problem of course, is that Willingham isn’t a free agent. The Phils would have to trade for him to get him from the Nationals and he is due to become a free agent after the end of the 2011 season. So, better or not, I am going to be surprised if Willingham winds up with the Phils.

Finally, the list of players the Phillies are considering is surely larger than the five (now four) non-Phillies listed above. A bunch of right-handed bats remain available, including Jose Guillen, Bill Hall, Andruw Jones, Austin Kearns and Magglio Ordonez. Some people think the Padres might be persuaded to trade Ryan Ludwick. This article suggests that Aaron Rowand has “become a strong consideration” off of three bad years in a row and a terrible 2010 in which he on-based .281. A lot of those guys bring some baggage with them, like being about to be suspended for a long time or having not been good since 2008, or just have a strong need to be unconsidered really soon, but they’re out there.

And that’s good news for the Phillies. Cause the guys people are speculating they might have interest in aren’t that exciting, except for the one they’re probably not going to be able to get.


Come to think of it, I don’t really care for how Jayson Werth has been distributed either

The Phillies played 162 regular season games in 2010 and scored 772 runs, which is about 4.77 runs per game. Not every starting pitcher got the same offensive support in their starts, of course. For example, the Phillies went 18-15 in the games that Cole Hamels started, but fared better in the games that Joe Blanton started (17-11) despite the fact that Hamels pitched much better. That has a whole lot to do with what their offense did in the games started by Hamels compared to what it did in the games that Blanton started. In the games that Hamels started, the offense scored an average of 3.76 runs per game, which is more than a full run lower than their average for the season. In the games that Blanton started, the offense scored an average of 5.89 runs per game — more than a full run more than their average for the season.

If the Phils had scored 4.77 runs in each of the 162 games they had played, they would have gone 98-64 instead of 97-65. That’s not much of a difference. But while it might not add up to a huge difference overall, it did make a difference when it came to their results based on who the game’s starting pitcher was.

The table below shows, for the six Phillies who started at least 12 games for the team in 2010, the average runs scored per game in that pitcher’s starts, the team’s actual record in their starts, what the team’s record would have been if they had scored 4.77 runs in every game started by that pitcher, and the wins the team would have added or lost if that had happened.

R per game Team actual
W-L
W-L if team
scored 4.77 in every game
Wins +/-
Hamels 3.76 18-15 22-11 +4
Halladay 4.42 22-11 26-7 +4
Oswalt 4.33 10-2 11-1 +1
Moyer 4.58 9-10 9-10 0
Kendrick 5.48 17-14 15-16 -2
Blanton 5.89 17-11 11-17 -6

So, for example, the Phillies scored 3.76 runs per game in the 33 games that Hamels started and went 18-15. If the Phillies had scored 4.77 runs in every game that Hamels started, but allowed runs exactly as they did, they would have gone 22-11 in the games that Hamels started. That’s four more wins, which is why there’s a four in the +/- column.

For me, the biggest surprise is how things evened out. The Phils may have cost themselves some games in 2010 by not putting up runs with Halladay and Hamels on the mound, but they just about made up for it by pounding the ball when Blanton and Kendrick were on the hill. As I mentioned above, if they had scored the same number of runs in every game they only would have won one more game. And that’s if they could figure out how to put .77 runs on the board.

Did you hear the one about the Phillies’ best offensive player from last year deciding he’d rather play for a team that has lost 298 games over the past three years and has made the playoffs less often in the 42-year history of its organization than the Phillies have in the last two years? And that the Phils won’t be getting a good pick back as compensation? It’s a hoot.

That said, it’s tough to be too hard on Werth. What with putting up a 1.361 OPS against the Rays in ’08 as he helped the Phils win the World Series and whatnot.

No worries, though, this article suggests that Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Josh Willingham or Juan Rivera might be the cure for what ails the Phils. I’m having some trouble getting excited about that, really especially Francoeur, Diaz or Hairston. Willingham or Rivera might be okay, I suppose.

In this article linked above, Amaro seems to suggest that Domonic Brown might not start the year with the Phils. It suggests that Amaro said that Gload might be part of a left-handed platoon in the outfield. Maybe they can put Gload and Rivera out there and give us all a chance to see just how fast Shane Victorino really can be.


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