In 2013, the total WAR for Phillie pitchers as calculated by Baseball-Reference was 14.2. As I’ve pointed out before, the Phils had two elite pitchers in ’13 in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee and that duo was backed by a slew of non-eliters. Hamels and Lee combined for 11.9 WAR, which is about 84% of the total WAR generated by Phillie pitchers. The 25 Phillie pitchers other than Hamels and Lee combined to generate 2.3 bWAR.
If you look back at recent years using the Baseball-Reference WAR data, these two things are true: 1) In 2013, the total WAR as that was generated by pitchers other than the top two was the worst it’s been since 2007 and 2) the percentage of the team’s total WAR for pitchers that was generated by the top two pitchers was the highest it has been since 2007.
Both of those things are bad. It’s nifty that Hamels and Lee are very good. They’re likely to continue being very good. But the Phillies are going to need a lot more from the other 25 guys pitching for the team before they’re going to be good again. Either that or improve their position players by a whole lot, but they’re more than a tweak away on that front as well.
Here’s a look at the two top pitchers for the Phillies by bWAR over the past seven years, the total WAR for the team’s pitchers that year, the combined WAR for the top two pitchers, the percentage of the team’s total WAR for pitchers the top two accounted for and the total WAR generated by all pitchers other than the top two.
|Year||Top 2 bWAR P||Total P bWAR||bWAR top 2||Top 2 %||other P|
|’13||Lee (7.3), Hamels (4.6)||14.2||11.9||84||2.3|
|’12||Hamels (4.6), Lee (4.5)||13.0||9.1||70||3.9|
|’11||Halladay (8.9), Lee (8.6)||37.2||17.5||47||19.7|
|’10||Halladay (8.3), Hamels (5.4)||21.8||13.7||63||8.1|
|’09||Happ (4.2), Blanton (2.6)||11.8||8.8||75||3.0|
|’08||Hamels (4.3), Moyer (2.8)||13.2||7.1||54||6.1|
|’07||Hamels (4.1), Kendrick (2.2)||4.8||6.3||131||-1.5|
In 2013, the WAR accumulated by the two best pitchers on the team was good relative to other recent years. It wasn’t 2011, but 2011 is never going to happen again. The Phillies aren’t likely to see their pitchers combine to throw to a WAR of 30 or better in any season in the next fifty years, much less 37.2.
It was everyone else who was terrible — as bad as the non-top two had been since 2007. In 2007, the Phils were the best hitting team in the NL by a wide margin, but everyone on the team other than Hamels and Kyle Kendrick combined to pitch to a WAR of -1.5. Adam Eaton made 30 starts with a 6.51 ERA and a 1.63 ratio. Antonio Alfonseca, Geoff Geary and Jose Mesa combined to make 158 appearances in relief in which they threw to a 5.02 ERA in 156 innings. The Phillies used 18 different pitchers who ended the season with an ERA over 5.00.
So it wasn’t good. 2013 wasn’t as bad as that for the Phils, but it wasn’t good and it wasn’t a move in the right direction. The Phillies are counting on Lee and Hamels to be good. The good news is that it’s going to happen. The bad news is it isn’t enough.
Finally, looking at 2008 numbers, I feel compelled to point out yet again that years from now there are going to be people who fondly remember the 2008 season and how Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay led a dominant Phillie pitching staff to World Series glory. That didn’t happen. Halladay and Lee weren’t on the team. Les Walrond was on the team. RJ Swindle was on the team. Halladay and Lee were not. The pitching wasn’t dominant. Hamels was very good, Moyer was good and the Brad Lidge-led bullpen was very good. Chase Utley was great. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard were all good. Howard hit 48 home runs and nearly won the MVP, finishing second behind Albert Pujols, despite having the sixth-best WAR for non-pitchers on his team. Utley had a bWAR of 9.0 and finished tied for 14th in the NL MVP voting. You can look it up.