Archive for November, 2011

Give the people what they want

Or, if not that, maybe some more about what what wrong against the Cardinals and Giants.

For two straight years, the Phillies have ended the regular season with the best record in baseball but been ousted from the playoffs in crushing fashion. In 2010 they fell to the Giants in six games in the NLCS and this year they didn’t make it out past the first round as the Cards topped them three games to two.

The Phils have clearly not lived up to expectations in the post-season over the past two years, but did the failures against the Giants in 2010 or the Cards in 2011 have more to do with underachievement in scoring or preventing runs? In this post we’ll try to guess how many runs the Phils should have scored and allowed against St Louis and San Francisco and compare that to what they actually did to determine the area where they dropped off more.

Starting with the 2011 series with the Cards.

The Phillies lost three games in the 2011 post-season. They lost game two 5-4 after Lee took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning. Oswalt allowed five runs in six innings as they lost game four 5-3 with David Freese driving in four runs in his last two at-bats. Halladay pitched great in game five, but was out-dueled by Carpenter as the Phils failed to score and lost 1-0.

Sure sounds like two of those three loses had a lot to do with pitching failures. But was it the ability to score runs or prevent runs that hurt the Phils more in the 2011 post-season? I think the answer is that the offense was worse than the pitching overall in the series. The table below tries to guess how many runs the Phillies should have scored and allowed during the series based on what they did and St Louis did during the regular season.

R/G NL Avg R/G Expected Actual Diff
PHI allow 3.27 4.16 .7861 STL Score 4.70 (x .7861) 3.69 3.80 -.11
PHI score 4.40 4.13 1.0654 STL Allow 4.27 (x1.0654) 4.55 4.20 .35
STL allow 4.27 4.16 1.0264 PHI Score 4.40 (x1.0264) 4.52 4.20 .32
STL score 4.70 4.13 1.138 PHI Allow 3.27 (x1.138) 3.72 3.80 -.08

So, for example, reading the top line it suggests that the Phillies allowed 3.27 runs per game in the 2011 regular season. The average NL allowed 4.16 runs. 3.27 is .7861 (or 78.61%) of 4.16. St Louis scored 4.70 runs per game during the regular season. If they scored 78.61% of that we would expect them to score 3.69 runs per game. In the five games they played with the Phillies they actually scored 19 runs, which is 3.80 per game or .11 more run per game than expected.

And, if you combine that top line with the one at the bottom, which starts with the number of runs the Cardinals scored during the regular season, the chart suggests we should have expected the Phillies to allow 3.69 to 3.72 runs per game against the Cards. They actually allowed 3.80 runs per game in the series, which is between .08 to .11 runs per game worse than expected.

The hitting was much worse than that. The expected runs per game for the offense are 4.52 to 4.55 based on the numbers above. They actually scored 4.20 runs per game in the series, which is .32 to .35 runs per game worse than expected.

In 2010 against the Giants, the numbers were even more dramatic.

The Phils lost four games in that series. Halladay allowed four runs over seven innings in game one and they lost 4-3. Matt Cain shut down the offense in game three as the Phils lost 3-0. Blanton couldn’t go five innings in game four, allowing three runs over 4 2/3. Oswalt started the ninth in a 5-5 tie, allowing a run on two singles and a sac fly as the Phils lost 6-5. The Phils scored two runs in the first in game six, but not again after that. Uribe homered off of Madson in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie and the Phillie season ended with a 3-2 loss.

R/G NL Avg R/G Expected Actual Diff
PHI allow 3.95 4.35 0.908 SF Score 4.30 (x 0.908) 3.90 3.17 .73
PHI score 4.77 4.33 1.102 SF Allow 3.60 (x 1.102) 3.98 3.33 .65
SF allow 3.60 4.35 0.828 PHI Score 4.77 (x 0.828) 3.95 3.33 .73
SF score 4.30 4.33 0.993 PHI Allow 3.95 (x 0.993) 3.92 3.17 .65

So, using those numbers, we would expect the Phillies to allow about 3.90 to 3.92 runs per game. They actually did much better than that in the series, holding the Giants to 3.17 runs a game, which is about three-quarters of a run less (.73 – .75).

Offensively, those numbers suggest we should be looking for the Phils to have scored 3.95 to 3.98 runs per game against San Francisco. They actually scored 3.33 runs per game, which is less than expected (by about .62 to .65 of a run a game).

So, in both cases it seems that the fault lies more with the ability to score runs than it does with the ability to prevent them. In 2010, the Phils were fantastic at preventing runs — even better than you might expect based on what they and the Giants did during the regular season. It was the offense that floundered. In 2011 against the Cardinals, the Phils were off in both areas, but a lot more off in their ability to score runs than to prevent them.

So if the team underperformed at scoring runs, they must of had some individuals who struggled with the bats. And they did. Seven of the eight hitting positions, all but right field, were primarily manned by the same player in the 2010 series against the Giants and the 2011 series against the Cardinals. Here’s what the starters did in those series, remembering that the Giants were a fantastic pitching team during the ’10 regular season and the Cards were below league average at preventing runs in ’11:

Opp AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
STL Victorino 19 6 1 0 0 0 0 .316 .316 .368
SF Victorino 24 5 1 0 0 2 6 .208 .296 .250
Total Victorino 43 11 2 0 0 2 6 .256 .304 .302
STL Utley 16 7 2 1 0 3 3 .483 .571 .688
SF Utley 22 4 1 0 0 4 2 .182 .333 .227
Total Utley 38 11 3 1 0 7 5 .289 .438 .421
STL Ruiz 17 1 0 0 0 1 3 .059 .111 .059
SF Ruiz 18 3 0 0 1 1 7 .167 .318 .333
Total Ruiz 35 4 0 0 1 2 10 .114 .225 .200
STL Rollins 20 9 4 0 0 1 1 .450 .476 .650
SF Rollins 23 6 1 0 0 2 7 .261 .320 .304
Total Rollins 43 15 5 0 0 3 8 .349 .391 .465
STL Polanco 19 2 0 0 0 0 3 .105 .105 .105
SF Polanco 20 5 2 0 0 3 1 .250 .360 .350
Total Polanco 39 7 2 0 0 3 4 .179 .250 .231
STL Howard 19 2 0 0 1 1 6 .105 .143 .263
SF Howard 22 7 4 0 0 3 12 .318 .400 .500
Total Howard 41 9 4 0 1 4 18 .220 .283 .390
STL Ibanez 15 3 0 0 1 0 5 .200 .200 .400
SF Ibanez 19 4 1 0 0 1 6 .211 .250 .263
Total Ibanez 34 7 1 0 1 1 11 .206 .229 .324

There were three players who have pretty ugly numbers in each of the series: Ruiz, Polanco and Ibanez. Ruiz is the worst of the three, going 4-for-35 (.114) with a home run in the two sets combined. Ibanez was 7-for-34 with 11 strikeouts and a .229 on-base percentage while Polanco’s .481 OPS over 39 at-bats wasn’t a whole lot better than the .425 that Ruiz put up.

Three of the seven were good in one of the two series but not the other.

Utley pounded the ball against the Cards this year, but went 4-for-22 against the Giants in 2010. His .859 OPS for the two series combined is the top mark for this group of seven players.

Howard was just the opposite, putting up big numbers against San Francisco in 2010 before hitting .105 as the Cards eliminated the Phils this year. During the regular season in 2010 and 2011 combined, Howard slugged .497, more than a hundred points higher than the .390 he slugged against the Cards and Giants.

Victorino went 5-for-24 with a double and two walks against the Giants. 2-for-3 with a double in game five against St Louis got his average up to .316 in that series, but he still put up a .607 OPS in the two sets combined. That’s nearly two hundred points lower than the .799 he OPS’ed during the 2010 and 2011 regular seasons combined.

The list of Phillies who hit well against both the Giants and the Cardinals is pretty short, but if Jimmy Rollins doesn’t belong on it I think he comes the closest. He was fantastic against the Cards and a lot worse against the Giants, hitting .261 against San Francisco with a couple of walks. Over the two sets combined he slugged .465, which led that group of seven players and is also remarkable given that he didn’t hit a triple or a home run in either series. Utley is the only guy on the list who out on-based him in the two series and Rollins outslugged Utley by more than Utley out on-based him. Again, it’s hard to say Rollins played well in a series against San Francisco where he put up a .624 OPS, but I think he comes the closest of that group of seven to have played well in each of the series.

Five of the seven players, everyone on the list besides Utley and Rollins, on-based .304 or worse for both of the sets combined.

Rollins is the only player to slug higher than .421 both sets combined. Five of the seven starters slugged .390 or worse.

In right field, Werth went 4-for-18 with a double, two homers and a 222/375/611 line against the Giants, making him arguably the best offensive player for the Phils in the series. Pence was 4-for-19 with four singles and two walks against the Cards. His 211/286/211 line belongs alongside the other guys who underperformed against St Louis.

The bench didn’t do much of anything against the Giants. Gload (0-for-5 with a walk), Francisco (1-for-6) and Brown (0-for-2) combined to go 1-for-13 with a walk.

Francisco (1-for-2) hit a huge home run in the series against the Cardinals. Gload went 1-for-2 with a single and Mayberry 0-for-4, making the trio 2-for-8 this year.


Playoffs??! You’re talking about playoffs?

Yup. Still. They’re kinda tough to forget.

You may recall that the Phils were pretty good during the regular season and not so good in the playoffs over the past two years. Here’s what the post-season teams did in the playoffs in terms of scoring and preventing runs and how those numbers compared to what the teams did during the regular season. Here are the numbers for the playoff teams in the NL for 2011:

G RS RA S/G A/G Reg Season
S/G
Reg Season
A/G
STL total 18 100 77 5.56 4.28 4.70 4.27
MIL 11 49 68 4.54 6.18 4.45 3.94
PHI 5 21 19 4.20 3.80 4.40 3.27
ARI 5 25 23 5.00 4.60 4.51 4.09
All NL teams 39 195 187 5.00 4.79 4.13 4.16
STL vs NL only 11 62 47 5.64 4.27 4.70 4.27

Overall, the NL teams scored 5.00 runs per game in the post-season, which is about 121% of the runs NL teams scored during the regular season. Of course, a lot of the NL teams that can’t hit didn’t even make the playoffs in 2011. The Cards, Brewers, Snakes and Phils combined to score 2,927 runs in 648 regular season games, which is about 4.52 runs per game (it’s about 4.57 runs per game if you weight it to account for the number of games played by each of the four teams, since the Cards had the best offense in the league and played the most playoff games).

Every NL team that made the post-season in 2011 except the Phils scored more runs per game in their post-season games than they had in their regular season games. The Cards scored about 118% of their regular season runs per game, the Diamondbacks about 111% and the Brewers about 102%. The Phillies scored 4.20 runs per game, which was about 95% of the 4.40 they averaged during the regular season.

Each of the four NL playoff teams also allowed more runs per game in the post-season than the regular season. The Cardinals came the closest to their regular season numbers, allowing just 4.28 runs per game, which is just a tick over the 4.27 they averaged for the regular season. Again, they were pitching against better teams than they faced during the regular season. Based on the regular season numbers against all NL teams, the Cards would have allowed about 48.7 runs in the 11 games they played against NL playoff teams (five against the Phils and six against the Brewers) — they actually allowed 47.

The Phillies allowed about 116% of the runs per game they allowed during the regular season in the ’11 post-season, which is the second-highest leap of the four NL playoff teams after the Brewers. Milwaukee has some ugly numbers thanks to allowing 43 runs to the Cardinals in the six-game NLCS. Not to be forgotten, of course, is that the Phils were facing the best-hitting team in the NL in the ’11 post-season. St Louis played the Phillies nine times during the regular season, going 6-3 and scoring 34 runs. That’s 3.77 runs per game, very similar to what they scored against the Phils during the post-season.

And here are the numbers for the NL teams in 2010:

G RS RA S/G A/G Reg Season
S/G
Reg Season
A/G
SF total 15 59 41 3.93 2.73 4.30 3.60
PHI 9 33 23 3.67 2.56 4.77 3.95
ATL 4 9 11 2.25 2.75 4.56 3.88
CIN 3 4 13 1.33 4.33 4.88 4.23
All NL teams 31 105 88 3.39 2.84 4.33 4.35
SF vs NL only
10 30 29 3.00 2.90 4.30 3.60

In 2010, all four of the NL teams that played in the post-season scored fewer runs per game than they scored during the regular season. That’s a flip from 2011, when three of the four teams (everyone but the Phillies) scored more. In 2010, the Braves and Reds each scored less than half of the runs per game in the post-season that they had scored during the regular season. The Giants were a little off their regular season pace, scoring 91.4% of their regular season runs per game overall but only about 69.8% before they got to the World Series. In the World Series, they plated 29 runs in just five games or 5.8 runs per game — way more than the 4.30 runs per game they scored during the 2010 regular season.

The Phils, meanwhile, didn’t have the huge dropoff in runs scored per game that the Braves and Reds did, but still scored significantly fewer runs per game in the post-season than they had during the regular season. They scored 3.67 runs per game in their nine playoff games in 2010, about 77% of the runs per game they scored during the regular season.

Three of the four teams allowed fewer runs per game in the post-season than they had during the regular season. The only team that didn’t was the Reds, who were outscored 13-4 by the Phils as the Phils swept them in three games in the opening round.

Of the four NL teams in the post-season in 2010, the Phillies were the team whose runs allowed per game was the lowest compared to the runs they allowed during the regular season. The Reds allowed more runs per game than they had during the regular season, the Phils allowed about 64.8%, the Braves about 70.9% and the Giants about 75.8%. In their games against the NL teams, the Giants allowed about 80.6% of the runs per game they had allowed during the regular season. A lot of that success for the Phils in 2010 relative to the rest of that group has to do with what happened in their opening series with the Reds — as you may remember, the Phils got shutouts from Halladay and Hamels in games one and three of the set.

The Phillies signed right-handed reliever Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year deal worth just over $50 million. We’ll have to wait see how that works out for the Phils in 2012, but between Papelbon and Thome the Phils are in good shape if the powers-that-be decide to replay 2006 instead.

Vance Worley finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Freddie Freeman and winner Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel got all 32 of the first place votes.

In this article, Charlie Manuel includes third base when listing the positions that free agent Michael Cuddyer can play. I’m not convinced. When the Phillies don’t get Cuddyer, how disappointed we should all be will depend on whether or not he can play third. I’m guessing he can’t.

This article suggests that Cuddyer is not the high priority in Philadelphia being portrayed by the media and is more of a “middle priority” for the Phils.


Do-over?

Remember this? After 79 games, the 2011 Phillies were preventing runs at a fantastic rate and looked, at least compared to the rest of the National League, like they would wind up better overall than the 2008, 2009 or 2010 teams.

And despite the disappointment of the post-season, I think they were. The table below shows the runs scored and allowed by the Phils since 2008 compared to the rest of the league as well as the same numbers for the team that actually won the World Series that year (in 2008 the Phillies were the World Series winner, so there’s only one entry for that season):

TM W R/G Lg Rank Lg Avg RA/G Lg Rank Lg Avg Ttl
’11 PHI 102 4.40 7 4.13 1.07 3.27 1 4.16 0.79 .28
’11 STL 90 4.70 1 4.13 1.14 4.27 9 4.16 1.03 .11
’10 PHI 97 4.77 2 4.33 1.10 3.95 4 4.35 0.91 .19
’10 SF 92 4.30 9 4.33 0.99 3.60 2 4.35 0.83 .16
’09 PHI 93 5.06 1 4.46 1.14 4.38 6 4.49 0.98 .16
’09 NYY 103 5.65 1 4.82 1.17 4.65 7 4.75 0.98 .19
’08 PHI 92 4.93 3 4.54 1.09 4.20 3 4.63 0.91 .18

So, for example, the ’11 Phils scored 4.40 runs per game, which was seventh in the league and about 1.07 times (or 107% of) the NL average of 4.13 runs per game. They allowed a league-best 3.27 runs per game, which was about 0.79 times the NL average. If you add .07 (.07 better for at scoring runs than the league average) and .21 (.21 better at preventing runs) you get the .28 that appears in the right-most column. In the same year, the St Louis team that won the World Series was much better during the regular season at scoring runs, but much worse at preventing them.

The table above suggests . . .

  • The 2011 Phillies were better during the regular season than the Phillies teams of 2008, 2009 or 2010.
  • The 2011 Phillies excelled at preventing runs, but were near league average at scoring runs. From 2008 to 2010, the Phils were no worse than third in the NL in runs scored per game before dropping to seventh in 2011.
  • In each of the last four seasons, the Phils have been in the top half of the NL in both scoring and preventing runs.
  • In each of the last two seasons, the Phils have been ousted from the post-season by a team that excelled at either scoring or preventing runs, but was also in the bottom half of the league in allowing or scoring based on runs per game. The Cards were ninth-best in the NL in runs allowed per game in 2011 and the Giants were ninth-best in the NL in runs scored per game in 2010.
  • After getting a little worse in 2009 after winning the World Series in 2008, the Phillies have gotten better in 2010 and 2011.
  • In 2010 and 2011, the Phillies were better during the regular season than the NL team that 1) knocked them out of the playoffs and 2) won the World Series.
  • The ’09 Yankees were better than the ’09 Phillies — or at least were better relative to the rest of the AL than the Phils were relative to the rest of the NL.

If you had to pick one thing to focus on from that table, I think it’s how few runs the Phils allowed in 2011 compared to the rest of the NL. That carried them to much better numbers overall, despite the fact that the offense got worse. How much worse, though? Look at the offensive numbers for 2008 and 2010. Clearly the offense was better in those seasons — third in the NL in runs scored per game in 2008 and second in 2010. The 2011 Phils were seventh, but the runs they scored per game compared to the average for the league didn’t drop off by a huge amount. In 2011, they scored about 107% of the runs per game as the average NL team. In 2008 they scored 109% and in 2010 they scored 110%.

In 2011, there was a huge dropoff between the team that scored the seventh-most runs (the Phils) and the team that scored the eighth-most (the Cubs). The Phils scored 713 for the year and the Cubs scored 654 — the Phils, with the seventh-most runs in the league, were actually closer in runs scored to the Cardinals (who led the NL in runs scored) than they were to the Cubs, who were eighth in the league in scoring. The Phils scored 59 runs more than the Cubs and 49 less than the Cards.

The Phillies signed Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. That is a great signing.

Getting Michael Cuddyer would be rather fantastic as well.


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