Archive for January, 2014

Wait, what was it again that was just another word for nothing left to lose?

Phillie fans didn’t care much for Bobby Abreu when he was great, so it’s a little tough to see them getting too excited about the news the 39-year-old Abreu is coming to Spring Training to try to win a job with the team.

Does he have a chance? I think he does. Mostly because 1) the Phillies are terrible 2) Abreu still has a chance to hit right-handed pitching and 3) a lot of guys the Phillies have been giving chances lately really don’t.

The Phillies would love Abreu to do three things — play defense, hit left-handed pitching and hit right-handed pitching.

He’s a lock not to do two of those things.

He’s an atrocious defensive player and has been for a long time. Negative dWAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference in each of the last 14 years he’s played. dWAR of -1.5 or worse in five of those years. By comparison, Baseball-Reference had 18 players who appeared in the NL last year with a dWAR of -1.5 or worse (four of them, Delmon Young, Michael Young, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry, played for the Phils). FanGraphs gives him a negative UZR/150 in right for nine straight years and negative in left for three straight years.

He’s also not going to hit left-handed pitching. Here’s what he’s done over the last four years in which he appeared in MLB (he didn’t play in MLB 2013):

Year PA v L AVG OBP SLG ISO
2009 201 267 348 386 119
2010 206 228 296 342 114
2011 167 238 319 279 041
2012 50 267 340 378 111
Total 624 246 323 342 096

246/323/342 over his last 624 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. That’s not enough for a corner outfielder who can’t play defense.

The numbers against righties are a lot better, though:

Year PA v R AVG OBP SLG ISO
2009 466 305 408 457 152
2010 461 267 377 478 211
2011 418 259 366 400 141
2012 207 236 353 333 098
Total 1552 272 380 431 159

Abreu was great against righties in 2009 and 2010, hitting 286/393/468 against them over 927 plate appearances. Those numbers carry him to a 272/380/431 line for the four-year span.

In 2011 and 2012 combined he hit 251/362/378 against them. That’s a .362 on-base percentage with an isolated power of .127.

Here’s the complete list of 2013 Phillies who had both an on-base percentage of .362 or better against righties and an isolated power of .127 or better against righties:

Player

PA

OBP vs Right

ISO vs Right

D Ruf

212

363

261

That’s it.

Here’s the guys who made it for one of the two, but not the other (among the players with 50 PA vs righties for the Phils last year):

Player

PA

OBP vs Right

ISO vs Right

D Brown

381

336

235

C Utley

361

360

193

J Mayberry

276

283

143

R Howard

230

357

220

D Young

219

283

143

E Kratz

173

295

189

F Galvis

167

287

145

C Asche

145

310

162

C Hernandez

87

368

050

R Bernadina

67

242

161

Utley comes the closest to hitting the .362/.127 marks, falling short by just a couple of points of on-base percentage. Howard almost did it as well. Nobody else came real close. The Phillies only had two players on the team on-base better than .360 against righties — Ruf and Cesar Hernandez.

Important to remember is that not reaching those marks doesn’t mean those who didn’t were lesser offensive players. Utley, for example, was a way better hitter against righties than a player who on-based .362 with an isolated power of .127 despite not matching both categories. Ditto Howard. Brown’s on-base percentage was way below .362, but his isolated power against righties was a whole lot better than .127.

As a group, though, there’s some room for improvement. Of course, miserable offensive production by the 2013 Phillies doesn’t make Abreu good. It might, though, make him more likely to make the team.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.


With a little luck, though, the special teams could be something special

Fingers crossed. I’m especially excited about what they might do with the punting game.

The last couple of posts have been about declining WAR amongst the Phillie pitchers, but things aren’t going particularly swimmingly on the hitting side, either. Looking at the non-pitchers, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have been the core of the hitters over the past seven years and all four are likely to impact the 2014 Phillies as well.

The news when it comes to the hitting core of the Phils isn’t good for two big reasons. The first is that the combined WAR produced by that core group of players is a) bad and b) getting worse. The second is that the total WAR accumulated by Phillie hitters other than that group of four is also a) bad (really atrocious in 2013) and b) getting worse.

Here are the WAR numbers for each of those four players, the four as a group and for the rest of Phillie hitters over the last seven seasons as calculated by Baseball-Reference:

’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12 ’13
Total for 4 18.8 16.2 16.4 13.3 10.1 8.8 6.0
Ruiz 2.0 0.1 2.7 4.1 2.8 4.5 1.7
Howard 2.9 1.7 3.8 1.3 1.1 -1.1 0.6
Utley 7.8 9.0 8.2 5.8 3.7 3.0 3.5
Rollins 6.1 5.4 1.7 2.1 2.5 2.4 0.2
Rest of PHI hitters 14.4 12.6 12.6 10.2 5.9 8.1 -2.4
Top 3 other hitters Rowand 5.1 Victorino 4.3 Werth 4.5 Werth 5.8 Victorino 5.4 Pierre 2.0 Brown 2.5
Victorino 3.3 Werth 3.7 Victorino 3.7 Polanco 3.2 Pence 2.2 Victorino 1.5 Revere 0.8
Werth 3.0  Burrell 2.3 Ibanez 2.9 Victorino 3.1 Polanco 1.9 Kratz 1.4 Frandsen 0.5

The total bWAR for the group of Ruiz, Howard, Utley and Rollins topped out at 18.8 in 2007. In 2013 it was down for the fourth year in a row and was at 6.0.

Ruiz has had two years in which he posted a bWAR better than 2.8 — 2010 and 2012. In 2013 he was at 1.7 after averaging about 3.3 over the past three seasons.

Howard has had a bWAR of three of better once in the last seven seasons. Less than two in five of the last six years.

Utley has been in the threes in bWAR for three straight years, which is nice, but a drop from ’07 to ’09 when his bWAR range was 7.8 to 9.0 over a three-year span. From 2005 through 2009 he was over seven for five straight seasons.

Rollins hasn’t topped 2.5 in any of the last five years. From 2004 to 2008 he was in the range of 4.6 to 6.1 for five seasons in a row.

The other big problem for the Phils is that the guys other than the core four have been getting worse. A lot worse. Gone are Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. Placido Polanco was one of the team’s top position players in 2010 and again in 2011. Domonic Brown had a nice year for the Phils in 2013, but the second best hitter outside of the big four for the Phils was Ben Revere. Revere’s bWAR of 0.8 was worse than the bWAR of the third-best non-Ruiz/Howard/Utley/Rollins hitter on the team in the past six years.


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