The Phillies have added three key offensive players this off-season. Two of them are bad defensive players who don’t walk and the other is a good defensive player who doesn’t walk.
All three of them join a team that doesn’t walk anymore.
Here’s the walk rate for Phillie batters over the last ten years and the rank of that walk rate in the NL for that season:
That’s obviously not going in the direction one would hope. In five of the last ten years, and every year from 2003 to 2007, the Phillies were first or second in the NL in walk percentage. In 2012, they were 15th in the league. The Rockies were the only team to walk in a lower percentage of their plate appearances than the Phillies.
In 2012, the team’s walk rate was down for the fifth year in a row (it’s actually 9.34% in ’08 and 9.29% in ’09).
And then the Phils added three guys that look likely to 1) play just about every day and 2) walk even less than the 7.4% of plate appearances that Phillie batters walked in 2012.
Even with the disappointment of 2012 and the playoff loses in ’10 and ’11, Amaro’s time as the GM of the Phils has been a success. The Phillies had the best record in baseball in 2011 and the best record in baseball in 2010. In 2009, they went to the World Series and lost to a better team.
So it’s been a good run.
What is true, though, is that the Phillies hitters have walked a whole lot less in the four years since Amaro has arrived than they did in the four seasons before his arrival.
Amaro became the team’s GM in November of 2008. Here’s the team’s walk rate over the four years he’s been at the helm (2009-2012) compared to the teams’ walk rate in the previous four seasons (2005-2008):
|Four previous years|
In the four years since Amaro joined the team, the Phillies have averaged 535.5 walks per season. In the four years previous to 2009, they walked an average of 623 times a year. So they’re down about 87.5 walks a season on average since Amaro took over compared to ’05 to ’08.
Not to be forgotten in all of this is that, declining walk rate or not, the Phils led the NL in runs scored per game in 2009 and were second in 2010. In ’09, they led the league in runs scored per game despite having the eighth-best walk rate in the NL.
There’s a lot of differences between the ’09 and ’10 teams than the 2012 team, though. The biggest one is that the ’09 and ’10 teams won a whole lot of games and the 2012 team did not.
The walk rate of 7.4% for the Phillies in 2012 is really low. How low? If you run out of stuff to do this weekend, look up how long it has been since Phillie batters walked in 7.4% of their plate appearances or less. It might take you longer than you would have guessed.