Archive for January, 2013

Let the right one in right

If you believe what you read pretty much everywhere, if the Phillies start 2013 without outfield additions, we’re likely to regularly see a Phillie lineup early in the season that features Domonic Brown in right and Mayberry in left.

There’s not a lot of data about those players defensively in right and left. What there is, though, suggests the Phillies might want to do it the other way around, putting Mayberry in right and Brown in left.

This has more to do with Mayberry than Brown. Mayberry has played just 131 defensive innings in right field in his career, but his defensive numbers at the position are exceptional. I don’t think it’s likely that Mayberry proves to be an elite defensive player in right field. But I do think the Phillies should play him there instead of in left when they have the option for as long as it takes for his numbers to indicate otherwise. Right now they say he’s fantastic.

Here is the UZR/150 for Brown, Mayberry and Ruf in left field:

Player Year Innings in LF UZR/150
Brown 2012 141 2/3 -5.8
Mayberry 2012 330 5.4
Mayberry 2011 161 1/3 27.7
Mayberry 2009 96 1/3 -42.2
Mayberry Career 587 2/3 0.1
Ruf 2012 46 -4.9

Again, it’s a tiny amount of data, but the data that exists say that Mayberry was terrible in left in 2009 and has been good since. Brown and Ruf haven’t been very good, but most would guess that Brown’s defensive numbers are likely to improve from his ’12 marks while Ruf’s are likely to get worse.

Here are the numbers for the three in right field:

Player Year Innings in RF UZR/150
Brown 2012 308 -8.9
Brown 2011 451 -26.0
Brown 2010 112 -37.9
Brown Career 871 -21.7
Mayberry 2012 24 63.5
Mayberry 2011 66 1/3 18.6
Mayberry 2010 10 8.7
Mayberry 2009 30 2/3 84.0
Mayberry Career 131 44.6

Brown has been atrocious in right field — so horrid in 2010 and 2011 that it was a relief in 2012 when he was merely bad. Last year was the first in which he saw time in left and his numbers in left, while still not good, were a little better than his 2012 numbers in right.

The main point here, though, is that while Mayberry has played a very small number of innings in right, he has had fantastic defensive numbers in the time he’s been there. Again, there’s close to no chance that they would continue to be that good given significant time in right. Still, I’d put him there long enough for them to go down.

I also think moving Brown from right to left has the potential to take some pressure off of him, allowing him to focus on hitting. I’m guessing it doesn’t happen, though. I think the Phillies think Brown should be a right fielder and are going to play him there. That shift may have already happened — in 2012, the first eight starts that Brown made were in left. After those eight starts, he made 43 starts the rest of the way and 38 of them were in right.

This article suggests that Cole Hamels has had shoulder soreness this offseason and that Amaro does not view it as an issue.

The article linked above also mentions the upcoming World Baseball Classic and discusses players who could be potentially leaving camp because of it. It mentions Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Jimmy Rollins as possibilities.

This article suggests that Amaro and Manuel are not satisfied with the outfield. It’s a little tough to imagine what your outfield goals would have to be for 2013 to be satisfied with the current outfield.

The article linked directly above also says that Halladay, Howard, Rollins and Kendrick are already working out in Florida and that Howard’s lower left leg is close to 100 percent.

Phillies Nation is sponsoring “Wiffadelphia,” a charity Whiffleball tournament to benefit Philabundance. The tournament will be held on March 9 in Medford, NJ. Event details here.

Three’s a kind of motley crowd

I think the Phillies are going to add an outfielder in the near future.

If they don’t, they seem poised to start 2013 with a combination of Laynce Nix, John Mayberry and Darin Ruf manning left field. There’s a whole lot of problems with that. One of them is that that’s one too many right-handed hitters for a two-man platoon — Mayberry and Ruf can’t both play left field against a lefty.

The most likely scenario if the roster plays out as it is has Mayberry or Ruf on the bench against left-handed pitching. I think there are two other possibilities, though, one that could happen and one that almost surely could not. The first is that the other could play right field against a lefty with Brown on the bench. The second is the other could play first base with Howard on the bench (that’s the one that’s not going to happen whether it makes sense or not).

Domonic Brown is 25-years-old and has 109 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching in which he has hit 208/284/302 with one home run, which came on September 10, 2012, off of Wade LeBlanc. Not trying to be a downer here, but lefties slugged .547 against the lefty LeBlanc in 2012. So he wasn’t exactly a lefty-killer.

Still, one can argue that Brown has the potential to develop into a very good all-around player against left-handed pitching, that getting to that point is going to require at-bats against lefties and giving them to him is in the best interest of the Phillies.

I think there’s also a case to be made that we simply don’t have enough data on Domonic Brown hitting against left-handed pitching. Similarly, you could also say there’s just not enough data on Ruf to conclude Ruf is going to be better all-around against lefties in right field than Brown. It seems likely he would offer more offensively, but with a huge question mark in terms of the glove. I do think it’s reasonable to conclude that Mayberry would be better in right overall against lefties than Brown in the short term, but Mayberry is probably in the lineup against a lefty in left field anyway given that we know he can handle left defensively and hit lefties. We don’t know either of those things about Ruf. My guess is that Ruf’s outfield defense will make it tough to play him there. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

With Ryan Howard, it’s not the case that we’re lacking data against left-handed pitching. He’s been terrible against lefties in four of the last five years.

There is close to no chance we’re going to see Mayberry take a significant number of starts from Howard against lefties at first in 2013 when Howard is healthy. But it’s likely he would deliver better performance than Howard if he did, both offensively and defensively.

Here’s what Howard and Mayberry have done against left-handed pitching over the last five seasons (Mayberry only got at least 50 plate appearances against lefties in 2011 and 2012):

Howard Mayberry
Year PA wOBA vs L Line vs L PA wOBA vs L Line vs L
2012 106 .261 173/226/378 180 .345 271/317/494
2011 185 .283 224/286/347 120 .405 306/358/595
2010 216 .359 264/333/492 6 - -
2009 252 .290 207/298/356 38 - -
2008 265 .319 224/294/451 - - -

In each of the last two years, Mayberry has been clearly better than Howard against lefties. 2010 is the only year in the last five that Howard has been non-terrible against lefties. In that season, Howard hit for about the same average that Mayberry hit against lefties in 2012, the lesser of Mayberry’s last two seasons against lefties, with about the same power. He walked a little more.

Mayberry is almost surely going to be better offensively against lefties than Howard is in 2013.

He would very likely be better defensively as well. Howard posted a negative dWAR for the seventh straight year in 2012 and his UZR/150 of -15.6 at first base was the worst mark for his career. Mayberry’s career UZR/150 at first in about 285 defensive innings is -0.2.

Of course, Mayberry doesn’t have to play first to get into the lineup against lefties. In fact, given the current roster, outfield options and the fact that he’s almost surely a better defense outfielder than Ruf, Mayberry seems likely to be starting in left field against left-handed pitching if the roster stays the same.

So the question really becomes whether Ruf would be better overall against lefties than Howard. There’s close to no data on Ruf in the majors, but to me the answers are both that he likely would fare better than Howard against lefties and that’s it’s not likely to happen a whole lot in 2013, if ever, as long as Howard is healthy.

Jonathan Singleton, traded the the Astros in the deal that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies in July of 2011, has been suspended for 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy.

Polanco says he ready to be the everyday third baseman for Miami. Not It.

Their better half

In the most recent post, I took a guess at the hitters who might start the year with the Phillies as well as the guys contending for the other spots. Here’s today’s guess about the pitchers:

Other candidates
1 Halladay (R) P Aumont (R)
2 Lee (L) T Cloyd (R)
3 Hamels (L) J De Fratus (R)
4 Kendrick (R) M Schwimer (R)
5 Lannan (L) M Stutes (R)
6 Papelbon (R) BJ Rosenberg (R)
7 Adams (R) E Martin (R)
8 Bastardo (L) J Pettibone (R)
9 JC Ramirez (R)
10 Z Miner (R)
11 J Horst (L)
12 R Valdes (L)
J Diekman (L)
J Savery (L)
M Robles (L)
C Jimenez (L)

Lannan and Bastardo are the guys I feel least sure of among the eight pitchers I have on the team. But I think they both start the year on the staff with Lannan serving as the fifth starter. Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Kendrick, Papelbon and Adams seem like locks if they are healthy, although I think it’s possible, but unlikely, that Kendrick could be pitching out of the pen at the start of the year.

If those eight guys did make the opening day roster for the Phils, it would leave the pitching staff with four open slots (assuming the team starts the year with 12 pitchers).

Of those four spots, one should go to a long man, or at least someone who could pitch more than one inning, and at least one other would go to a lefty.

The Phillies have a lot of options when it comes to the second lefty in the pen. Horst and Valdes were both very good in 2012 and I think it’s possible they both make the team to start the year. If it’s just one of them, I’d give Horst an advantage over Valdes. I think Horst is pretty close to a lock to start the year with the team.

I think the issue of who will be the long man out of the pen is more complicated. Kendrick is the guy best-suited for that role, but the Phillies would likely prefer to have him pitch out of the rotation, coming off of a 2012 in which he threw to a 2.43 ERA over his last ten starts. Cloyd, Ethan Martin or Jonathan Pettibone seem like the candidates to make the team that are mostly likely to be able to give the Phillies more than one inning, but I have a little trouble seeing the Phillies carrying one of them to pitch out of the pen to start the year. My guess at this point would be that the Phillies don’t have a true long man out of the pen to start the year.

So if Horst takes one of the four open spots, that leaves the Phils with three.

The guy I feel next strongest about is Aumont, given the combination of his upside and some promising results in 2012. I’ll slot him into the tenth spot.

I think it’s really wide open after that. At this point I’ll take Valdes, based on his impressive 2012, for the eleventh slot. Beyond that I see it as close to a toss-up between Stutes and De Fratus as front-runners for the final spot. Stutes is coming off of a significant injury that sidelined him for much of 2012 and both should contribute to the team this year. Stutes helped the Phils a lot in 2011 and De Fratus has had several very impressive years in the minors in a row.

I’ll pick De Fratus for the twelfth spot.

So that gives the Phils 12 pitchers — Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Kendrick, Lannan, Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Horst, Aumont, Valdes and De Fratus. Five starters, seven relievers. Three lefties out of the pen and no long man in relief.

If that’s the staff heading into 2013, I expect we’ll all feel a whole lot more comfortable with the pitching than we do with the hitting to start the year.

This article from the Phillies web site adds Michael Cuddyer to the list of players the Phils might be pursuing that includes Hairston, Wells and Soriano.

This article suggests that if the outfield situation stays the same, we may see Brown getting a chance to be the everyday guy in right field to start the year with a platoon in left that includes some combination of the lefty Nix and righties Ruf and Mayberry. Mayberry seems like he should be a candidate to get some at-bats at first base against left-handed pitching as well.

There are a bunch of problems in left if that proves to be the case. One is that it’s hugely unlikely that Laynce Nix is going to be able to take all or maybe even most of the at-bats against righties in left field in 2013. Nix is 32 and has never gotten more than 400 plate appearances in a season. Phillie left fielders are going to get around 480 plate appearances against right-handed pitching in 2013. Nix has never had more than 321 plate appearances against righties in a season. So it seems likely that some parts of that platoon would be hitting a lot against righties. I don’t think you want to see a whole lot more of Mayberry hitting against righties given his 229/291/335 line against them in 2012. We’ll see on Ruf. He was 5-for-17 against righties last year with a home run.

The other important problem with Nix as the left-handed part of a platoon in left is that Nix, despite his left-handedness, isn’t exactly a fabulous hitter against right-handed pitching anyway. His career line against righties is 253/297/447. Last year he got just 117 plate appearances against righties, but put up a 248/316/390 line. So Nix probably couldn’t completely man a left-handed platoon in left anyway and if he could, you might not want him to.


Three months from today, the 2013 Phillies, whoever they are, will have likely played five games. Here’s my current guess as to the hitters that are on the team at this point, as well as other candidates to fill the remaining slots:

Other candidates
1 Kratz D Ruf
2 Howard H Quintero
3 Utley S Lerud
4 Rollins K Frandsen
5 Young E Inciarte
6 Nix T Gillies
7 Revere L Collier
8 Brown J Mitchell
9 Mayberry C Hernandez
10 Galvis M Martinez
11 P Orr
12 A Blanco
13 J Fields

Of those ten, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Young and Revere seem like no-brainers. I can’t see how the Phillies could leave off Kratz, given the Ruiz suspension for the start of the year. Someone has to backup short and Galvis seems like he has a huge advantage over NRI Michael Martinez or any of the other choices that will be in camp. The Phillies are super-thin in the outfield, but I think Brown, Mayberry and Nix are all likely to start the year with the Phils if they are still with the team.

That’s not a hugely impressive group, especially given the miserable years from Young and Howard in 2012.

If those ten hitters started the year with the team it would leave three open spots (or four if the Phils started the year with 14 hitters).

Of those three open spots, one would surely go to a backup catcher and another likely to a fifth outfielder.

The backup catcher seems like it’s either Quintero or Lerud. I’d guess Quintero.

Given the addition of Young, I don’t think there’s a lot for Frandsen to do except help Galvis backup third. He did hit .338 last year, so I’d guess the Phillies give him a spot on the roster to do just that, barring an addition.

The Phillies still have time to trade for a veteran outfielder and will likely try to do so. I’d guess if they do, and don’t trade away an outfielder in the process, that guy takes the other outfield spot. If they don’t, or if they trade away Nix, Mayberry or Brown getting a new outfielder, I’d guess Ruf starts the year with the team.

At this point I would guess that Quintero, Frandsen and Ruf fill the remaining three spots on the list.

The article from the Phillies web site on Friday suggests that the Phillies continue to have interest in free agent Scott Hairston or the Angels’ Vernon Wells.

Shane Victorino says that returning to Philadelphia was his first choice this off-season. He signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston.

Oh, to be able to hit right-handed pitching again

In 2012, Michael Young made 651 plate appearances for the Rangers, hitting 277/312/370 in what was the worst offensive season of his career. You can make the case his 2002 season, in which he hit 262/308/382 was worse, but I’ll take 2012.

Between his ugly 2002 and his ugly 2012 seasons, Young got 6,332 plate appearances in which he hit 311/358/461. He came into 2012 having hit 313/361/476 over his last three seasons.

So what went wrong for Young in 2012?

Whatever it was, it probably didn’t have a lot to do with hitting against left-handed pitching. The righty Young posted a 333/371/423 line against lefties in 2012. His career line against left-handers is 314/365/471. His isolated power against left-handed pitching was .090 in 2012. Coming into the 2012 season, he was hitting .312 against lefties with a .476 slugging percentage. That’s an isolated power of .164.

So, relative to his career numbers, in 2012 he hit for a better average against lefties, but with less power.

In terms of problems, though, the slight drop in power against lefties is nothing compared to what the right-handed Young hit against right-handed pitching in 2012. Young hit 257/291/352 against righties last year. He put up a wOBA against right-handed pitching of .280. Among the 223 players across both leagues that had at least 250 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, the .280 mark was 199th. Shane Victorino, unbearably awful against righties in 2012, was 201st with a .279 wOBA against righties.

So Young was terrible against righties in 2012. That hasn’t been the case over his career, though, or even in his recent history. Here are some of his numbers against right-handed pitching over the past eight seasons:

Year wOBA % H % BB ISO
2012 .280 24.2 4.8 .095
2011 .363 30.0 6.9 .135
2010 .320 24.8 6.4 .155
2009 .390 30.7 6.4 .201
2008 .314 25.2 7.4 .098
2007 .344 29.4 6.5 .099
2006 .352 29.7 5.8 .137
2005 .388 30.0 7.6 .189
Career .340 27.4 6.3 .138

In 2012, Young posted his lowest wOBA against righties for the last eight years, got hits in the fewest percentage of plate appearances against righties in the last eight years, walked in the fewest percentage of plate appearances against righties in the last eight years and hit for the lowest isolated power against righties in the last eight years.

Notably, Young was good against righties as recently as 2011. Given he’s going to get a whole lot of chances to hit right-handed pitching for the Phillies in 2013, let’s hope 2012 was a one-year funk.

Oh, for it to be 2008 again

Yesterday’s post suggested that if you look at Young’s overall WAR numbers over the last five seasons, he doesn’t fare that well compared to the rest of the Phillies. That, in large part, is due to the fact that he’s been a pretty miserable defensive player of late, posting a negative dWAR in four of the last five years. Looking at the top five hitters by WAR on the Phillies over the last five seasons means he’s competing with players who accumulate significant value from their defense (Utley, Rollins, Ruiz and Victorino especially), which Young has not been able to do.

If you look just at the offensive numbers, Young’s bids to get into the top five among Phillie hitters in recent years improve quite a bit. Arguably, Young would have been the best hitter on the Phillies in 2011 among the players that got 400 plate appearances — 2011 wasn’t that long ago and it saw Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino all get at least 400 plate appearances with the Phils.

The table below shows where Young’s oWAR for all Phillies hitters and wOBA (for hitters with at least 400 plate appearances) ranks among Phillies for the last five seasons:

Year Rank oWAR wOBA
2008 1 Utley 5.7 Utley .389
2008 2 Rollins 3.5 Burrell .375
2008 3 Victorino 3.3 Werth .374
2008 - Young 3.2 (4) Young .328 (7)
2009 1 Utley 6.0 Utley .394
2009 2 Werth 4.0 Howard .392
2009 3 Howard 3.9 Ibanez .378
2009 - Young 4.0 (T-2) Young .385 (3)
2010 1 Werth 4.9 Werth .396
2010 2 Utley 3.9 Utley .370
2010 3 Ruiz 3.2 Ruiz/Howard .368
2010 - Young 2.7 (T-4) Young .336 (6)
2011 1 Victorino 5.0 Victorino .368
2011 2 Rollins 3.1 Howard .355
2011 3 Utley 2.9 Utley .338
2011 - Young 3.5 (2) Young .369 (1)
2012 1 Ruiz 4.0 Ruiz .398
2012 2 Rollins 3.1 Pence .340
2012 3 Utley 2.0 Rollins .322
2012 - Young -1.0 (26) Young .297 (7)

Young has been really good offensively in two of the last five years, hitting 338/380/474 in 2011 and 322/374/518 with 22 homers in 2009.

By oWAR, he would have been in the top two among Phillie hitters twice in the past five years and in the top four in four of the five.

By wOBA, he would have been the best Phillie hitter with at least 400 plate appearances in 2011 and the third best in 2009.

In 2012 he was unarguably terrible, but his career wOBA of .344, had he produced that and not the actual .297 he did put up, would have been second best on the team behind only Ruiz.

Young has had four really good offensive years, only one of which has come in the last five seasons. 2004, 2006 and 2009 were all really good and 2005, when he put up a 331/385/513 line, was probably the best.

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