Archive for October, 2013

Walking all

This post from January, 2011, pointed out that during the 2010 season the Phillies walked just 416 batters, which was the fewest walks issued by any National League team. Not only was it the best mark in the NL that year, it was also the fewest number of walks issued by an NL pitching staff since Expos walked 401 in 1995.

The Phils followed 2010 up with two seasons in which their pitchers walked fewer batters than they had in 2010. They walked 416 in 2010, 404 in 2011 and 409 in 2012.

Today’s point is that those days are gone — if not forever, for a long time. The Phillies didn’t lead the league in fewest walks allowed in 2013 and didn’t come close. Here’s how they’ve ranked in fewest walks issued in the NL over the past five seasons:

Year NL Rank fewest BB
2009 2
2010 1
2011 1
2012 1
2013 9

Coming off of three straight years in which they were the best team in the NL at preventing walks, the Phils walked 506 batters in 2013 in a season when the average NL team walked 481. Only one NL team, the Rockies, pitched fewer innings than the Phillies for the year and Colorado only pitched a third of an inning less than the Phils. The 8.14% of batters that the ’13 Phillie pitchers walked was ninth-best and the 3.17 walks per nine they issued was tenth-best.

Forced to guess, I think I would have likely concluded that the combination of the huge number of innings pitched by Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee from 2009-2012 and their low walk rates carried the Phils to league-best marks in the category. That’s wrong, though, or at least incomplete. A look at the numbers will show that the walk rate for the Phillies other than Halladay, Hamels and Lee has increased significantly.

For example, this post from February, 2011, suggested that while Halladay had a lot to do with the success in 2010 at preventing walks, he wasn’t the only factor. During 2010, Halladay threw 250 2/3 innings for the Phils and walked just 30. However, as impressive as Halladay was at preventing walks, the team’s success in this area wasn’t just about one guy or one performance. If you removed Halladay’s performance from the 2010 numbers, the other Phillie pitchers still issued walks at a lower rate than the Cardinals, the second-best team in the NL at preventing walks in 2010.

That works if you add Hamels, too. In 2010, Lee didn’t pitch for the Phillies, but Halladay and Hamels did. The pitchers on the team other than Halladay and Hamels combined to walk 325 hitters in 997 innings, which is about 2.93 batters per nine innings. That was still, without Halladay, Hamels or Lee (who wasn’t on the team) the best rate of preventing walks in the NL that year. St Louis was second behind the Phils at 2.95. In 2013, the pitchers other than Halladay, Hamels and Lee on the Phillies combined to walk 388 hitters in 931 2/3 innings, which is about 3.75 batters per nine. That rate is worse than the overall rate for any 2013 NL team. By a lot. The Cubs had the worst rate of allowing walks in 2013 — they walked about 3.36 batters per nine innings in 2013.

So, again, in 2010, the Phillie pitchers other than Halladay, Hamels and Lee were better than any other NL team at preventing walks, but by 2013 the Phillie pitchers other than Halladay, Hamels and Lee were worse than any other NL team at preventing walks.

This article points out that the Phillies were miserable at preventing walks in the minors this year, too, and suggests that not walking everyone will be a focus next year.


Just how much rain is it reasonable to pray for?

In 2013, the Phillie offense was bad and the pitching was worse. Among the pitchers, though, who were worse, the starters or the relievers? Both were really bad, but I think the answer is the relievers were worse relative to the rest of the league, even if the starters did more damage by throwing more innings.

The Phillies were 14th in the NL in both ERA for their starters and ERA for their relievers:

ERA NL Rank NL Avg
PHI SP 4.41 14 3.86
PHI RP 4.19 14 3.50

Just by ERA, the ERA for the team’s relief pitchers overall was about 1.20 times the NL average and the ERA for the team’s starters was about 1.14 times the NL average.

It’s worse for the pen if you look at the runs they allowed per inning rather than the ERA:

RA per IP NL Rank NL Avg
PHI SP .523 14 .465
PHI RP .518 15 .419

The Phils were better than the Rockies in runs allowed per inning pitched for their starters and better than nobody in their runs allowed per innings pitched for their relievers. Their starters and relievers allowed runs per inning at almost the same rate while the gap for the league was larger — relievers were much more effective at preventing runs. The .523 runs allowed per inning that the starters for the Phils allowed in 2013 was about 1.125 times the .465 runs per inning mark for NL starters for the year. The .518 runs allowed per inning for the relievers was much worse, about 1.236 times the NL average of .419 runs allowed per inning.

None of this means the starters were good. They really, really weren’t. I mentioned in the last post that Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were great in 2013. Here’s what everyone else on the team did in 98 starts in ’13 not made by Lee or Hamels:

Pitcher GS IP ERA Ratio
Kendrick 30 182 4.70 1.40
Pettibone 18 100.3 4.04 1.47
Lannan 14 74.3 5.33 1.52
Halladay 13 62 6.82 1.47
Cloyd 11 54.3 6.96 1.80
Martin 8 33 6.55 1.79
Miner 3 9.3 5.79 2.14
Valdes 1 3.7 22.09 3.27
Group Total 98 519 5.41 1.53
NL Average SP - - 3.86 1.28

So in a year in which the average NL pitcher threw to a 3.86 ERA and a 1.28 ratio, the Phillie starters other than Hamels and Lee combined to make 98 starts in which they threw to a 5.41 ERA and a 1.53 ratio. Jonathan Pettibone led the group with a 4.04 ERA and Kyle Kendrick with a 1.40 ratio. That group combined to allow 10.35 hits per nine innings in a season in which the average NL starter allowed about 8.73 hits per nine innings. Roy Halladay is the only one of the eight that allowed less than a hit per inning in 2013 — you may remember he had some troubles with walks and home runs last year (he actually allowed hits at a rate below his career average while his rates of allowing walks and home runs were both more than twice his career average).

In 2013, the average NL reliever threw to a 3.50 ERA and a 1.28 ratio. The Phillies used 21 relief pitchers in 2013. Here’s the list of Phillie relievers in 2013 who had both an ERA of 3.50 or better and an ERA of 1.28 or better:

Pitcher IP ERA Ratio
Papelbon 61.7 2.92 1.14
Bastardo 42.7 2.32 1.27

Among the 21 relievers the Phillies used in 2013, two (Jake Diekman and Joe Savery) threw at least ten innings in relief with an ERA better than 3.50 but a ratio worse than 1.28. Two (Raul Valdes and Michael Stutes) also had a ratio of 1.28 or better, but an ERA worse than 3.50. But Papelbon and Bastardo were the only two of the 21 that were as good or better than league average in both ERA and ratio.

Here’s the 19 who were worse than league average in both categories:

Pitcher G IP ERA Ratio
Justin De Fratus 
Jake Diekman 
Luis Garcia 
Raul Valdes 
Jeremy Horst 
Mike Adams 
J.C. Ramirez 
Joe Savery 
B.J. Rosenberg 
Zach Miner 
Phillippe Aumont 
Michael Stutes 
Cesar Jimenez 
Chad Durbin 
Ethan Martin 
Tyler Cloyd 
Mauricio Robles 
Casper Wells 
John McDonald 
58
45
24
16
28
28
18
18
22
13
22
16
19
16
7
2
3
1
1
46.7
38.3
31.3
31.3
26.0
25.0
24.0
20.0
19.7
19.3
19.3
17.7
17.0
16.0
7.0
6.0
4.7
0.7
0.3
3.86
2.58
3.73
5.74
6.23
3.96
7.50
3.15
4.58
3.72
4.19
4.58
3.71
9.00
3.86
3.00
1.93
67.50
0.00
1.50
1.30
1.60
1.21
1.81
1.36
1.88
1.30
1.48
1.55
1.91
1.25
1.41
2.13
1.29
1.67
2.14
9.00
6.00

Overall for the season, the starters threw way more innings than the pen. The Phillies pitched 1,436 1/3 innings in 2013 and 961 2/3, about 67%, were thrown by the starters. Hamels and Lee combined to throw 442 2/3 innings, which is about 46% of the total innings thrown by Phillie starting pitchers on the year.


Worser by far

The point of the last post was that the Phillies were extremely bad in 2013, perhaps better than only the Marlins in the 15-team National League.

Today’s point is that relative to the rest of the league, the Phillies were worse at preventing runs last year than they were at scoring them. That’s not to suggest that they couldn’t have been miserable at both — they were, in fact, miserable at both. But worse at preventing them than they were at scoring them.

The Phillies scored 3.77 runs per game in 2013 in a year when the average NL team scored 4.0 runs per game. So they scored about 94% of the average runs per game in the NL for the season.

They allowed about 116% of the average runs allowed in the league for the season, giving up 4.69 runs per game in a year when the average NL team allowed 4.04.

Using runs per game, the Phillies were better than only the Rockies at preventing runs in 2013. The Rockies allowed 4.76 runs per game, a very similar mark to the 4.69 surrendered by the Phillies.

Both the Phils and the Rockies were way above the rest of the NL in runs allowed per game. The Phillies were 14th in the category and the Padres were 13th. San Diego allowed 4.33 runs per game, more than a third of a run less per game than the Phils.

The Phillies also had two outstanding pitchers in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels — each of them finished the year in the top ten in the NL in WAR for pitchers as calculated by both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.

bWAR NL Rank fWAR NL Rank
Lee 7.3 2 5.1 4
Hamels 4.6 7 4.2 8

Lee was top five at each of the sites and Hamels top ten. The problem was pretty much everybody else. Here’s some of the numbers for Lee and Hamels as well as the other pitchers on the team compared to NL averages for 2013:

IP ERA Ratio
Lee and Hamels 442 2/3 3.23 1.08
All other PHI P 993 2/3 4.80 1.50
Team Total 1436 1/3 4.34 1.37
NL Avg - 3.73 1.28

In a year when the average NL pitcher threw to a 3.73 ERA and a 1.28 ratio, all of the pitchers on the Phillies other than Lee and Hamels combined to pitch to a 4.80 ERA with a 1.50 ratio. That requires some pitchers having some miserable years and the Phillies had them. Lannan, Martin, Horst, Cloyd, Halladay, Valdes, Ramirez, Durbin and outfielder Casper Wells all threw to an ERA over 5.00 on the year and everyone on that list other than Lannan threw to an ERA over 6.00. Cloyd, Lannan and Halladay all threw at least 60 innings on the season. Cloyd, Halladay, Martin and Lannan combined to make 46 starts (about 28.4% of the team’s starts) for the season and threw to a 5.97 ERA in in 236 2/3 innings in those starts.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

So just how bad was it this year?

We can all agree that it wasn’t good. But how bad was it? I’d say the Phillies were better than the Marlins in the National League this season. If want to argue for more than that, you’re on your own.

There are 15 teams in the National League. Twelve of them won more than the 73 games that the Phillies won this year, although three of them, the Rockies, Brewers and Mets, won just one game more (74) than the Phillies and the Giants and the Rockies both won 76. The Phillies won more games than the Cubs (66) and the Marlins (62).

The Phillies scored more runs per game than each of the teams they finished ahead of in the wins column (Miami and Chicago). They were 13th in the NL in runs scored with 3.77 runs per game. The Cubs were 14th at 3.72 and both Chicago and the Phils buried the Marlins. The Fish scored an NL-worst 3.17 runs per game.

Here’s the runs scored per game in the NL for 2013:

Team
STL
COL
CIN
ATL
ARI
WSN
LAD
NLavg
MIL
PIT
SFG
NYM
SDP
PHI
CHC
MIA
G
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
R
783
706
698
688
685
656
649
649
640
634
629
619
618
610
602
513
R/G
4.83
4.36
4.31
4.25
4.23
4.05
4.01
4.00
3.95
3.91
3.88
3.82
3.81
3.77
3.72
3.17

Again, Phillies were bad at scoring runs this season, but better than the Cubs and way better than the Marlins. Everyone was better than the Marlins at scoring runs this year. By a lot. The 3.17 runs per game scored by the Fish was the lowest runs scored per game number for any NL team since the Padres scored 3.02 runs per game in 1971. 1971? If you think about it relative to the average number of runs scored in the NL by year, it’s not quite as bad. The 3.17 runs scored per game for the Marlins this year was about 79.25% of the league average of 4.00. You only have to go back to the ’03 Dodgers to get a mark that bad. In 2003, Los Angeles scored 3.54 runs per game in a season in which the league average was 4.61. 3.54 is about 76.8% of 4.61.

Still, the point is that the Marlins was truly awful at scoring runs this season.

Chicago and the Fish were way better at preventing runs than the Phillies, though. The only team the Phils were better at preventing runs than this season was the Rockies:

Tm
ATL
PIT
LAD
CIN
STL
WSN
MIA
NLavg
NYM
MIL
CHC
SFG
ARI
SDP
PHI
COL
G
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
162
RA
548
577
582
589
596
626
646
655
684
687
689
691
695
700
749
760
RA/G
3.38
3.56
3.59
3.64
3.68
3.86
3.99
4.04
4.22
4.24
4.25
4.27
4.29
4.32
4.62
4.69

Note that there was some separation between the Rockies and the Phils, the two worst teams in the NL at preventing runs this year, and the rest of the group. The Phillies, 14th in the league in runs allowed per game, allowed 4.62 runs per game. The Padres were 13th in the league in runs allowed per game and allowed 4.32 or .3 of a run per game less. Three tenths of a run is a lot. It’s also the same amount that separates the team in the league that was seventh-best at preventing runs, the Marlins at 3.99, with the Diamondbacks who were twelfth in the category at 4.29.

The league average for ERA was 3.73 in 2013. There were only two teams that threw to an ERA over 4.00 and they both did it by a significant margin — the Phillies at 4.34 and the Rockies at 4.44.

So among all the NL teams, the only teams that the Phillies were better than at either scoring or preventing runs for the season were the Marlins, the Cubs and the Rockies. The Phils were better than the Cubs and Marlins at scoring runs and better than the Rockies at preventing them.

The Rockies, of course, were way better at scoring runs than the Phillies. They scored more than half a run more than the Phils and finished second in the NL in the runs scored.

The Cubs and the Marlins both prevented runs a lot better than the Phils. The Fish allowed 3.99 runs per game, which was better than the league average. The Cubs were worse than the NL average at 4.25 runs per game, but still better than the Phils as the Phils allowed .37 runs per game more than the Cubs. The Phils scored .05 runs per game more than Chicago.

As you can probably guess, being miserable at scoring and preventing runs relative to the teams you’re competing against will hurt your statistics that are based on the number of runs you score and allow.

Here are the Pythagoran records for the NL teams, along with their actual records and “luck” as reported by Baseball-Reference. Luck is just a team’s actual wins minus their Pythagorean wins.

Tm
STL
ATL
CIN
LAD
PIT
WSN
ARI
MIL
COL
SFG
NYM
SDP
CHC
PHI
MIA
Actual
97-65
96-66
90-72
92-70
94-68
86-76
81-81
74-88
74-88
76-86
74-88
76-86
66-96
73-89
62-100
pythWL
101-61
98-64
93-69
89-73
88-74
84-78
80-82
76-86
76-86
74-88
74-88
72-90
71-91
66-96
64-98
Luck
-4
-2
-3
3
6
2
1
-2
-2
2
0
4
-5
7
-2

So the Phils are 13th in actual wins but 14th in Pythagorean won/loss record, ahead of only Miami and five Pythagorean wins behind the 13th-Pythagorean place Cubs. Their luck mark, their actual wins minus Pythagorean wins, is seven, which means they won seven more games than would have been expected based on their Pythagorean winning percentage. Seven is the highest mark for any team in the NL this year and the highest for any NL team since the 2010 Houston Astros.

So based on Pythagorean winning percentage, the Phillies were better only than the Fish and only better than the Fish by two games.

Again, there are only three teams in the league that the Phils were better than at either scoring or preventing runs — the Rockies, Cubs and Marlins. It’s pretty hard to mount an argument that the Phillies were better than an NL team other than those three given that all of the other 11 teams in the league 1) had a better actual record than the Phils 2) had a better Pythagorean record than the Phils 3) scored more runs per game than the Phils and 4) allowed fewer runs per game than the Phils.

Among the three teams that they either outscored or were better than at preventing runs, they clearly weren’t better than Colorado. The Rockies and Phillies allowed about the same number of runs on the season, but the Rockies had an elite offense that was second in the league in runs scored while the Phillies were 14th in runs scored. Colorado won more actual games and had a Pythagorean record that was ten wins better than the Phils. I don’t think there’s any argument to be made that the Phillies were better than the Rockies this year.

That leaves the Cubs and the Marlins, the only two teams in the league to win fewer games than the Phillies.

The Cubs won a lot fewer, seven, and finished at 66-96. They did it with a -5 luck as the table above shows, suggesting that, unlike the Phillies, their actual record was a lot worse than you would expect based on the number of runs they scored and allowed.

Unlike the Rockies, who were a miserable team at preventing runs that scored a ton of runs, Chicago was, like the Phillies, bad at both. The Cubs and Phils scored a very similar number of runs, separated only by .05 runs per game, while the Cubs were a whole lot better at preventing runs. Despite being worse than the average NL team at preventing runs, they still allowed more than a third of a run (.37) less per game than the Phillies did. That difference in the number of runs they allowed per game leads them to Pythagorean record that’s five games better than the Phillies despite the fact the Phils actually won seven more games.

Were the Phillies really worse than the Cubs this year? I think they really were.

And the Fish? I think the Phils were actually better than the Marlins, winning 11 more games with a Pythagorean record that was two games better. Miami’s offense was heinous, plating a full sixth-tenths of a run fewer than even the weak Phillie offense per game, but they did a much better job of preventing runs, allowing a better-than-league-average 3.99 per game while the Phils were 14th of the 15 teams in the category.

Mounting an argument that the Marlins were actually better than the Phillies would require one to make the case that Miami’s success at preventing runs was so much better than the Phillies that it was enough to overcome the fact that the Phils fared much better at producing runs.

The Phillies scored about 5.75% fewer runs per game than the average NL team and allowed about 14.36% more runs per game. The Marlins scored about 20.75% fewer runs per game, but were better than league average at preventing runs, allowing about 1.24% fewer runs than league average per game. If you combine each of those numbers for the teams, the Marlins wind up at about -19.51, which is slightly better than the -20.11 for the Phils.

Simpler than that would be to point out that in the same number of games, the run differential for the Marlins was better than the run differential for the Phillies. The Phillies allowed 749 runs and scored 610, which is a run differential of 139. The Marlins allowed 646 and scored 513, a run differential of 133.

Let’s not get nuts, though. They’re the Marlins. They allowed Adeiny Hechavarria, Rob Brantly, Greg Dobbs and Jeff Mathis to combine for 1,344 plate appearances in 2013 in which they put up a 215/270/290 line. The Phillies won 11 more games and had a better Pythagorean record and that’s good enough for me.


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