pitching

And not just that — Vance Worley never mistook Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for his own personal pinata

It appears that the Phillies have reorganized their rotation in recent weeks, outing 25-year-old-righty Vance Worley and inning 28-year-old lefty John Lannan.

So who’s better — Lannan or Worley? It’s hard to know who will fare better in 2013, and the issue is complicated because Lannan is (almost exactly) three years older, but it’s hard to make the case that Lannan has been better than Worley in the time they’ve spent in the majors.

Here are some of their numbers for their careers, including Lannan’s combined numbers through his age 25 season (Worley just finished his age 25 season):

Age

IP

ERA

Rat

bWAR

fWAR

H/9

BB/9

HR/9

SO/9

Worley ’10

23

13

1.38

0.82

0.5

0.2

5.5

2.8

0.7

8.3

Worley ’11

24

131.7

3.01

1.23

3.2

2.4

7.9

3.1

0.7

8.1

Worley ’12

25

133

4.20

1.51

0.7

1.9

10.4

3.2

0.8

7.2

Total

-

277.7

3.50

1.35

4.4

4.5

9.0

3.1

0.7

7.7

Age

IP

ERA

Rat

bWAR

fWAR

H/9

BB/9

HR/9

SO/9

Lannan ’07

22

34.7

4.15

1.53

0.4

0.0

9.3

4.4

0.8

2.6

Lannan ’08

23

182

3.91

134

2.5

1.2

8.5

3.6

1.1

5.8

Lannan ’09

24

206.3

3.88

1.35

3.1

1.4

9.2

3.0

1.0

3.9

Lannan ’10

25

143.3

4.65

1.56

-0.1

1.2

11.0

3.1

0.9

4.5

Thru 25

-

566.3

4.10

1.41

5.9

3.8

9.4

3.3

1.0

4.6

Lannan ’11

26

184.7

3.70

1.46

0.8

1.3

9.5

3.7

0.7

5.2

Lannan ’12

27

32.7

4.13

1.44

0.3

0.5

9.1

3.9

0.0

4.7

Total

-

783.7

4.01

1.42

7.0

5.7

9.4

3.4

0.9

4.7

Through their age 25 seasons, Lannan had thrown far more innings in the majors than Worley. He had thrown 566 1/3 innings through the end of the 2010 season while Worley has still thrown just 277 2/3 for his career.

In just about every other way, though, Worley has been better. Through their age 25 seasons, Worley has a better ERA, has thrown to a lower ratio, allowing fewer hits, walks and home runs per nine innings while striking out batters at a higher rate. All of those things are also true if you compare the career numbers of the two.

Worley has also had the best year by WAR. Using both Baseball-Reference and FanGraph’s calculations of WAR, the best season either of the two has had to date is Worley’s 2011 performance. On the other hand, Lannan’s 2009 was almost as good and Lannan has had two very good seasons, 2008 and 2009, while Worley has only had one.

Notably, Lannan’s two best seasons came before his age 25 year. Over the last three years, he’s started 64 games and thrown to a 4.12 ERA with a 1.50 ratio, allowing 402 hits in 360 innings while opponents have hit .284 against him. The 4.12 ERA and 1.50 ratio for Lannan over the last three seasons are pretty similar to the 4.20 ERA and 1.51 ratio that Worley put up in his worrisome 2012 season.

Coming up in the same division, Worley and Lannan each spent time in the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League. Here’s what the two have done in each of those leagues:

Ages IP ERA Ratio H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
Lannan AA 22 and 25 76.7 3.76 1.37 9.4 0.6 2.9 5.6
Worley AA 21 and 22 266 4.43 1.36 9.4 0.9 2.9 6.2
Lannan AAA 22 and 27 186.7 3.76 1.37 9.4 0.8 3.0 5.1
Worley AAA 22 and 23 96 3.00 1.14 8.2 0.8 2.1 8.1

They have very similar numbers at Double-A with Lannan posting a better ERA. Lannan has thrown more than twice as many innings in the Triple-A Eastern League, but Worley’s numbers are significantly better as he has allowed fewer hits and walks while striking out batters at a higher rate.

The biggest question as we look towards 2013 and beyond is whether you think Worley’s enormous hit rate in 2012 was a fluke or not. He has close to no chance of being successful in the long run with opponents hitting .296 against him. He was also victimized by one of the highest rates of BABIP of all pitchers in baseball.

Todd Zolecki suggests that trading for a player like Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano might make sense for the Phillies if they don’t sign Cody Ross here.

Baseball America’s Top Ten Prospects for the Phillies was released with 21-year-old lefty Jesse Biddle at the top of the list.


The pitching news

Busy weekend for the Phillies that saw them agree to deals with two pitchers — lefty John Lannan appears to be set to serve as the fifth starter and righty Mike Adams looks likely to set up Papelbon.

This article says that the deal with Adams is for two years, $12 million and the deal with Lannan is one year, $2.5 million.

Lannan has made 19 starts against the Phillies over his career, throwing to an ugly 5.53 ERA with a 1.74 ratio. Opponents have hit 329/404/546 against him in Citizens Bank Park. So that could be better. In 94 1/3 innings against the Phillies in all stadiums he’s hit 11 batters. In 689 1/3 innings against all other teams, he’s hit 19 batters. In his major league debut on July 26, 2007, Lannan was ejected in the fifth inning after hitting Utley and Howard back-to-back. The ball that hit Utley broke his hand.

Here’s my guess on how the pitcher staff for 2013 looks at this point as well as the top candidates to fill the last two slots:

Role Pitcher Others
1 SP Halladay (R) Stutes (R)
2 SP Lee (L) Schwimer (R)
3 SP Hamels (L) De Fratus (R)
4 SP Kendrick (R) Cloyd (R)
5 SP Lannan (L) Rosenberg (R)
6 RP Papelbon (R) Valdes (L)
7 RP Adams (R) Savery (L)
8 RP Bastardo (L) Diekman (L)
9 RP Horst (L)
10 RP Aumont (R)
11 RP
12 RP

On Friday, the Phillies claimed 23-year-old left-handed reliever Mauricio Robles off of waivers from Seattle. Robles was primarily a starter in Seattle minor league system through 2011. In 2012 he made 43 appearances, 37 of which were in relief, and threw to a 5.78 ERA with 1.69 ratio between Double-A and Triple-A. He walked 63 in 71 2/3 innings. That’s not a joke, it’s actually a stat.

This suggests that the Phillies and Mariners are among the teams interested in Cody Ross and that Ross may be looking for a three-year, $25 million contract.

This suggests that the Phillies may have one payroll slot left, which would allow them to pay a new outfielder about $7 million.


Vance out of his trance

Back to bWAR and how the Phillies pitching overall might possibly improve in 2013 shortly. Looking back at yesterday’s post, though, the thing that caught my eye the most looking at the data was Vance Worley’s 1.51 ratio in his 23 starts with the Phillies.

That’s awful.

In 2011, Worley went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.23 ratio in 131 2/3 innings for the Phils. He made 25 appearances and 21 of those were starts. Last year he made 23 appearances, all starts, throwing to a 4.20 ERA with a 1.51 ratio.

Ratio is just hits plus walks over innings pitched, so given that his ratio went from 1.23 to 1.51 from 2011 to 2012, either his rate of giving up hits or walks must have gone up dramatically.

One of them did. Here’s his percentage of batters faced who got a hit or a walk in 2011 and 2012:

Year % H % BB
2011 21.0 8.3
2012 26.1 8.0

Worley faced 553 batters in 2011 and 590 in 2012. His walk rate actually went down in 2012 as he walked just 8.0% of the batters he faced. The hits were way up as he allowed hits to 26.1% of the hitters he faced after allowing hits to just 21.0% of hitters in 2011.

Even down from his ’11 mark, Worley’s walk rate of 8.0% was high relative to the rest of the pitchers who started games for the Phillies in 2012. Higher than Hamels (6.0%), Lee (3.3%), Kendrick (7.3%), Halladay (5.6%), Blanton (3.2%), Cloyd (5.1%) and Valdes (4.4%). Higher than everyone but Rosenberg — BJ Rosenberg started one game for the Phillies in 2012 and ended the year with a walk rate of 13.2% (he walked 14 in 25 innings, which is a candidate for stuff to work on going forward).

So Worley’s walk rate was high, at least compared to the other starters for the Phillies. But lowering his walk rate in 2012 didn’t make his ratio go up. It was all of the hits.

Opponents hit .237 against Worley in 2011. They hit .296 against him in 2012. He dominated left-handed hitters in 2011, holding them to a paltry 201/271/299 line. In 2012, lefties hit a less paltry 312/386/462 against him. Righties fared remarkably similarly against him in both years, hitting 272/336/439 against him in 2011 and 280/331/433 in 2012.

Worley had a stunning year in 2011, pitching extremely well in the minors and then extremely well with the Phillies.

Here are his minor and major league numbers combined for hits allowed per nine innings for the years before 2011, 2011 itself and 2012:

Innings H per 9
Before 2011 393 1/3 8.97
2011 182 1/3 7.75
2012 133 10.42
Total 708 2/3 8.93

So clearly he had much more success in preventing hits in 2011 than he had had in the years before or has had since.

For his career, he’s thrown a lot more innings in the minors than in the majors. In his 431 innings in the minors, about 78% of which have come below Triple-A, he has allowed 8.9 hits per nine innings. That includes his 2011 season, when he was fantastic in the minors at preventing hits (7.3 per nine) over 50 2/3 frames. Excluding 2011, over his career he’s allowed 9.09 hits per nine innings in the minors. In 2011, he spent most of the year in the majors and allowed 7.75 hits per nine innings.

And again, in 2011 and 2012, righties posted a nearly identical line against him. Lefties killed him in 2012 and he was unusually fantastic against him in 2011.

So one could make the argument that 2011 was simply a fluke in which Worley allowed way fewer hits than we should expect him to allow in the future.

That’s pretty close to what I believe.

I think there’s a lot of hope out there for people who don’t believe that, though, starting with his outrageous BABIP in 2012.

During 2012, Worley threw 133 innings with a ridiculous batting average for balls in play of .340. Across both leagues, there were 111 pitchers who threw 130 or more innings. Of those 111, only one, Detroit’s Rick Porcello, had a BABIP worse than Worley’s .340. Porcello threw 176 1/3 innings in 2012 with a BABIP of .344.

Beyond that, Worley was really solid in his first 12 starts of the season, throwing to a 2.92 ERA with a 1.26 ratio. His BABIP over those 12 starts was .297. Things went nuts after that, though. Over his last 11 starts, Worley threw to a 5.80 ERA with a 1.83 ratio. Opponents hit .350 against him, with an enormous BABIP of .404. Worley didn’t walk a lot of people in those games and he didn’t give up a lot of home runs. He just allowed a ton of hits.

A quick trip to Worley’s page on FanGraphs seemingly reveals more good news about 2012. His ground ball percentage was up in 2012 relative to 2011. He saw more of his fly balls go for home runs in 2012 than he did in 2011, which could help explain why his numbers dropped overall. His FIP was not terrible, notably better than Kendrick’s despite Kendrick’s better numbers using more traditional stats.

So maybe he really did just get extremely unlucky in 2012.

Maybe not, too.

This suggests that the Phillies are in serious talks with Texas about acquiring Michael Young.

This suggests that Texas might pay more than half of the $16 million that Young is owed in 2013.

This suggests that Schwimer might be the reliever the Phillies would be most willing to part with in a deal for Young.

After being bad defensively at third for three straight years, Young advanced to atrocious in 2012 in limited time. He played just 215 innings at the hot corner last season. Overall, he posted a -2.4 WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference for the season in 2012 and a -1.4 WAR as calculated by FanGraphs.

This suggests the Phillies have a five-man list for center field that includes Bourn, Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Ben Revere and Dexter Fowler.

Of those, Hamilton, Granderson and Fowler would be terrible defensive players in center.

This suggests Hamilton is very close to going to Seattle.

This suggests that Nate Schierholtz has agreed to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Cubs.

The Rule 5 Draft started this morning at 10 AM. Look for the Phillies to pick up a starting third baseman, a starting center fielder and an eighth inning guy. Just kidding. But not as much as I wish I was.

Update: The Phillies traded Worley and Trevor May to the Twins for Ben Revere.


Ain’t that a Shane

As recent posts have mentioned, there were two big things that went wrong for the Phillies pitching staff in 2012.

The first was that Halladay led the group of Halladay, Hamels and Lee to a miserable year in which they were far less successful than they had been in previous years.

The second was that the guys in the rotation other than Halladay, Lee, Hamels and the new addition Papelbon, combined to be exceptionally average in 2012 relative to the rest of the NL.

The Phillies used 24 pitchers in 2012. Here’s what the 20 that weren’t Halladay, Hamels, Lee or Papelbon did:

G GS IP ERA Ratio bWAR
Kendrick 37 25 159.33 3.90 1.27 1.3
Blanton 21 20 133.33 4.59 1.19 -0.1
Worley 23 23 133 4.20 1.51 0.7
Bastardo 65 0 52 4.33 1.27 -0.2
Schwimer 35 0 34.33 4.46 1.34 -0.1
Cloyd 6 6 33 4.91 1.21 0
Qualls 35 0 31.33 4.60 1.53 -0.3
Horst 32 0 31.33 1.15 1.12 0.8
Valdes 27 1 31 2.90 0.74 0.6
Diekman 32 0 27.33 3.95 1.65 -0.4
Savery 19 0 25 5.40 1.36 -0.4
Rosenberg 22 1 25 6.12 1.28 -0.5
Lindblom 26 0 23.33 4.63 1.54 -0.5
Aumont 18 0 14.66 3.68 1.29 0.1
Contreras 17 0 13.66 5.27 1.17 -0.3
De Fratus 13 0 10.66 3.38 1.12 0
Herndon 5 0 7.66 4.70 1.43 0
Sanches 6 0 6.33 9.95 2.37 -0.3
Stutes 6 0 5.66 6.35 1.94 -0.3
Brummett 1 0 0.66 0.00 3.00 0
Group Total 446 76 798.6 4.26 1.32 0.1

Combined bWAR of 0.1 from 20 players is a problem. Kendrick at 1.3 is the only guy above one. NL pitchers overall threw to a 4.26 ERA with a 1.31 ratio for the season in 2012, which is almost identical to the 4.26 ERA and 1.32 ratio put up by the group.

The group struck out hitters at a slightly higher rate than the NL average, 8.3 per nine for the group compared to 7.7 for the league. They allowed the same 3.1 walks per nine as the NL average and gave up a few more home runs — 1.15 per nine compared to 1.0 for the league. 8.8 hits per nine compared to a league average of 8.7.

So they were a very average group. And the Phillies needed a lot more from them given that the combined contribution of Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Papelbon was way off in 2012 compared to their recent seasons.

This says Shane Victorino and the Red Sox agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal.

The article linked above suggests that possibility that Boston may be considering playing Victorino in center and trading Jacoby Ellsbury.

No idea what went on with Wilton Lopez, but Lopez has been traded to the Rockies for right-handed pitchers Alex White and Alex Gillingham. Huh?

This suggests that Minnesota might consider trading Ben Revere.

This suggests that Jeff Keppinger could get $13 million or more over three years, and that the Yankees really want him.


Doing their part

The last post looked at the Baseball-Reference’s bWAR for the four elite pitchers on the Phillie pitching staff, Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon, have produced over the last five seasons. Those four haven’t all been on the Phillies over the past five years (the Phils only had all four of them in 2012) but here’s a look at the bWAR the four of them have contributed to Phillie teams over the past five seasons and how their contributions as a group compares to what the rest of the Phillie staff has done:

Year Big 4 bWAR Team bWAR P Not big 4 % ip by big 4 % bWAR big 4
2012 (all four) 10.7 10.8 0.1 45.0 99.1
2011 (all but Pap) 23.0 35.2 12.2 46.2 65.3
2010 (Halladay/Hamels) 13.6 21.2 7.6 31.5 64.2
2009 (Lee/Hamels) 2.7 10.2 7.5 18.8 25.3
2008 (Hamels) 4.0 11.1 7.1 15.7 36.0

The most alarming thing about that table is 2012 — the only year in which the Phillies had all four of Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Papelbon. Last season, all of the other pitchers on the team other than those four combined to do close to nothing. The 16 other pitchers put up a combined bWAR of 0.1.

Over the last five years, the bWAR provided by Phillie pitchers other than that quartet has ranged from 0.1 to 12.2 and averaged 6.9. It’s obviously hugely important that all four of that group were not with the Phillies in any year other than 2012, as the absent members of the group gave others chances to pitch and accumulate WAR. In 2008, for example, Hamels was the only guy in the group with the team.

Over the past two years, the group of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon have thrown an average of 45.6% of the innings for the Phillies. Over the past five years, that group’s percentage of total bWAR for the Phillies has been about 1.86 times the percentage of total innings they have pitched. If they threw 45.6% of the team’s innings in 2013 and the percentage of the team’s total bWAR they provided was 1.86 times greater than that, they would account for about 84.8% of the team’s total bWAR for pitchers.

This says that Angel Pagan and the Giants have agreed to a four-year deal.

Nate Schierholtz was not offered a contract and became a free agent.

This article mentions Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Ichiro Suzuki, Cody Ross, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler as players that the Phillies could target to acquire.

In the article linked above, Amaro seems to suggest that Mayberry could play center if the team was strong enough in right and left. That would be a disaster. It would look a lot like last year’s disaster.

This suggests that the Phillies have “long coveted” Peter Bourjos, but that a deal with the Angels is unlikely. It also suggests the Phillies might be interested in a trade for Josh Willingham if he were available.

The whole thing is starting to take on the feel of a slow-moving disaster. Not over yet, though.


The men at the top

A post earlier this week looked at the total bWAR of hitters and pitchers for the top teams in the NL over the last five years. In 2012, it appears the Phillies will have four elite pitchers on their pitching staff. What should we expect the Phillies to get from the group of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon in 2013?

Here’s a look at the Baseball-Reference calculated WAR for each of the four over the past five seasons:

’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 Avg High Low
Halladay 0.7 8.5 8.3 6.6 5.9 6.0 8.5 0.7
Lee 4.2 8.3 4.8 5.1 6.5 5.8 8.3 4.2
Hamels 4.2 6.2 5.3 1.7 4.0 4.3 6.2 1.7
Papelbon 1.6 1.5 0.0 3.4 1.8 1.7 3.4 0.0
Totals 10.7 24.5 18.4 16.8 18.2 17.7 24.5 10.7

So, looking at those four players, over the last five seasons the combined bWAR they have contributed has ranged from 10.7 to 24.5 with an average of 17.7.

Sadly, by a wide margin, the worst year of any of the five is the most recent.

Also sadly, that group has been outrageously healthy over the last five seasons. Halladay’s 2012 season is one exception, but he still made 25 starts and threw 156 1/3 innings. Lee has thrown more than 200 innings in each of the last five years. Hamels has made at least 31 starts every year of the last five. Papelbon has thrown at least 60 innings in relief in each year.

So it’s likely they are going to spend less time on the field in the future than they have over the last five years, giving them less opportunities to accumulate bWAR.

The good news is that the average mark for the last five years, 17.7, would be a huge improvement over what they did in 2012.

The previous post suggested that the total combined bWAR for the team’s pitchers and hitters should be around 36 to give the team a solid shot to be among the four best by bWAR in the NL. If you assume a return to the five-year average for the group of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon, that gives the Phils 17.7. Over the last two seasons, the best combined bWAR for all of the Phillie position players is 15.0. That’s 32.7. That sounds like it should be good news — it means that all pitchers on the team other than Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon, including the missing 40% of the rotation, would only need to post a cumulative bWAR of 3.3 to get the Phils to 36.

But.

In 2012, the Phillie pitchers other than that quartet combined to throw to a bWAR of 0.1. Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon were at 10.7. The other 20 pitchers who appeared for the Phillies combined for a 0.1 — that includes negative bWAR performances from 11 guys (Blanton, Schwimer, Bastardo, Contreras, Qualls, Sanches, Stutes, Diekman, Savery, Lindblom and Rosenberg).

The obvious other big issue here is Halladay, whose 2012 bWAR dropped to 0.7 coming off of back-to-back seasons in which he was amazing, posting a bWAR better than eight in both years. If you saw any sign in 2012 that Halladay was about to return to 2010-2011 form, I sure missed it. And for now, at least, the Phillies are built around the rather reasonable notion that Roy Halladay is going to be the elite pitcher he has been in recent years.

So let’s hope for the best. But if you suggest that Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Papelbon are going to combine to post a bWAR of 17.7 or better in 2013, I’m taking the under. They all have to stay healthy for one thing. And even if they do, they have close to no chance unless Halladay is way, way better than he was in 2012. Also, the entire pitching staff for the Phillies has thrown to a combined bWAR of 17.7 or better twice in the last 29 years — in each of the seasons in which they did, Hallday posted a bWAR better than eight. In one of them, 2011, Lee also posted a bWAR better than eight.

Bottom line is that the group of four has set the bar almost impossibly high for themselves in terms of whether or not they can ever return to previous, especially 2011, form. In 2011, those four pitchers combined to produce a bWAR of 24.5. Over the past ten seasons, only four NL teams other than the ’11 Phils have put up a combined bWAR for their pitchers of 24.5 or better for their entire staff (the ’12 Reds (26.4), ’09 Giants (24.6), ’08 Cubs (26.9) and ’03 Snakes (27.6)).

In this article from last night, Jim Salisbury suggests the deal for Wilton Lopez is not a sure thing.

This says that BJ Upton and the Braves have agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal. I truly do not know what Upton is going to do over the next five years. But if it’s similar to what he’s done over the last four years, I think it will be good news for the Phils that it’s the Braves and not them paying him $15 millionish a year. He does have huge upside, though. So we’ll see.

Update1: This says the Wilton Lopez deal fell apart.

Update2: This says Denard Span has been traded to the Nats for pitcher Alex Meyer.

Updates one and two are both bad news for the Phillies. Span would have filled the center field hole very nicely.


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