In 2009, the Phillies walk rate of 9.3% was just eighth-best in the NL and the Phils still led the league in runs scored per game. By a lot. They scored 820 runs that year and only one other NL team scored more than 785 — the Rockies scored 804.
So if the Phils can lead the NL in runs scored despite being eighth in the league in walk rate, maybe we should all just calm down about the fact that their walk rate in 2012 was 15th in the league?
I’m thinking no. The ’09 Phillies offset their middle-of-the-pack walk rate by excelling in areas the ’12 Phillies and Phillies over the next couple of years are not likely to.
Also, eighth-best walk rate in the league or not, the ’09 Phillies walked a lot more than the ’12 Phils. The 2009 Phillies walked 589 times while the ’12 Phillies walked 454 times, which is a difference of 135 walks or about .83 per game — the difference in the 7.4% walk rate for 2012 and 9.3% for 2009 adds up to a lot walks.
The biggest difference, though, is that the ’09 Phillies delivered power that last year’s Phils and, almost surely, this year’s Phils, can’t match.
Here are some of the NL ranks for the offenses of the ’09 and ’12 Phils:
So the ’09 Phillies weren’t great at drawing walks. What they were great at is hitting doubles and home runs. In ’09, the Phils hit 224 home runs, which not only led the league, but led it by a whole lot. Colorado was second in the NL in home runs with 190. The NL average was 155. So the Phils hit 34 more home runs than the NL team that was second in the category and 69 more than the average for the league. The ’12 Phils were eighth in the NL in home runs with 158, which was six more than the league average of 152.
The ’09 Phillies hit 312 doubles. They led the league in that category as well with 24 more than the league average of 288. The ’12 Phils were tenth in doubles, hitting 271 in a year when the average for the league was 278.
In 2009, the Phillies had four players to hit 31 or more home runs. Howard, Werth, Ibanez and Utley combined to hit 146. In 2012, Rollins led the team with 23 and was the only player on the team to hit more than 17. Rollins and Victorino were both in the top ten in the NL in doubles in 2009. Rollins hit 43, which put him fourth in the league, and Victorino hit 39 (9th). In 2012, Rollins again led the Phillies in doubles, but with 33, which tied him for 23rd in the NL.
If you want to have an exceptional offense and you’re not going to be exceptional at drawing walks, you’re going to have to be exceptional elsewhere. The ’09 Phillies were. They delivered an unusually high number of doubles and homers. The ’12 Phillies did not. It’s also important to remember that they walked a whole lot more than the ’12 Phillies did as well.