The 70.2% making their voice heard in Delmon Young’s occupy negative WAR movement

First thing is just a coincidence. During 2012, the Phillies got a total of 6,172 plate appearances. Of those, 4,330 came against right-handed pitching and 1,842 came against left-handed pitching. So that’s 70.2% against right-handed pitching and 29.8% against left-handed pitching.

Over the last two seasons, Delmon Young has gotten 1,111 plate appearances. Of those, 780 (70.2%) have come against righties and 331 (29.8%) have come against lefties.

So the percentage of plate appearances that Young has gotten against lefties and righties over the last two years is very similar to the percentage of plate appearances the Phillies overall have gotten against lefties and righties. It’s weird they’re exactly the same, but given that Young played regularly against both lefties and righties it’s not that odd they’re similar.

In 2013, we should expect that the Phillies will get about 690 plate appearances in left and the same number in right. If they are divided left-right the same way all plate appearances were for all Phillie hitters in 2012, we should expect about 484 plate appearances for left fielders against righties and about 206 plate appearances against lefties. And the same number for right fielders.

Forgetting whether Young plays left or right, based on what he’s done over the last two seasons, here’s what we should expect Young to do if he got all 690 plate appearances at one of those plate appearances, 70.2% came against right-handed pitching, 29.2% came against left-handed pitching and he produced offense at the rates he has over the last two years:

vs. R 484 454 19 0 12 19 251 283 376
vs L 206 196 11 1 6 7 305 335 467
Total 690 650 30 1 19 27 267 299 403

Again, the percentage of plate appearances against right and left-handed pitching there are the same as his actual percentages over the last two years. So the results are the same and his 267/299/403 line matches his actual 267/299/403 line for the last two years.

Young has been better against left-handed pitching than right over the last years. So if you give him a higher percentage of plate appearances against left-handed pitchers and fewer against right, while continuing to use his rates of offense over the past two seasons, the numbers look better. Here, for example, is how things look if he gets 75% of the 206 plate appearances against lefties and 30% of the 484 against righties:

vs. R 145 136 6 0 4 6 251 283 376
vs L 155 148 8 1 5 6 305 335 467
Total 300 284 14 1 8 11 279 310 423

Average up, on-base percentage up, slugging up. Isolated power up despite the increase in average, at .144 compared to .136 for the top table.

With all the charts in this post, there are some rounding issues. For example, six walks against righties plus six walks against lefties doesn’t equal 11 walks (just like four homers vs righties and five homers vs lefties doesn’t get you to eight homers overall). It’s actually 5.76 walks against righties (rounds to six) plus 5.62 walks against lefties (rounds to six). 5.76 plus 5.62 = 11.38.

More importantly, though, it’s not a lot of walks. After walking in 4.6% of his plate appearances in both 2010 and 2011, Young’s walk rate in 2012 dropped to 3.3%. That’s really not good. Young hit .308 against left-handed pitching last year and slugged .500, but he walked just four times in 189 plate appearances against lefties. That’s on his good, much better, side. In 2011, his walk rate against lefties was 5.63% — it dropped to 2.12% last year.

I think the other thing the table above illustrates is that his home run rate against lefties is not that much better than his home run rate against righties over the last two years. Since the start of 2011, Young has homered in 3.02% of his plate appearances against lefties and about 2.56% of his plate appearances against righties. In 2011, his home run rate was better against right-handed pitching than left. He hit nine home runs in 361 plate appearances (2.49%) against righties and three in 142 plate appearances (2.11%) against lefties.

Here’s what his numbers would look like in the not-gonna-happen situation where he got the same number of plate appearances against lefties and righties based on his numbers over the last two seasons:

vs. R 350 328 14 0 9 14 251 283 376
vs L 350 333 18 2 11 13 305 335 467
Total 700 662 32 2 20 27 278 309 421

Again, that can’t happen, because even if Young gets every plate appearance he can against lefties, he’s not going to get close to 350.

I think it does show that his walk rate against righties over the last two years has been better than his walk rate against lefties. And that his walk rate is very low. And that his rate of delivering doubles and home runs against lefties is slightly better than it is against righties. Most importantly, of course, he got way more hits against lefties than he did against righties.

None of this matters if the Phillies are committed to playing him every day, regardless of the opposing pitcher. I think they are. So let’s hope his results, especially against righties, improve significantly in 2013.

Amaro suggests in this article that the Phillies are good enough to contend for the division. The same article suggests that the Phillies are pursuing catching depth and possibly relief pitching.

Three’s a kind of motley crowd

I think the Phillies are going to add an outfielder in the near future.

If they don’t, they seem poised to start 2013 with a combination of Laynce Nix, John Mayberry and Darin Ruf manning left field. There’s a whole lot of problems with that. One of them is that that’s one too many right-handed hitters for a two-man platoon — Mayberry and Ruf can’t both play left field against a lefty.

The most likely scenario if the roster plays out as it is has Mayberry or Ruf on the bench against left-handed pitching. I think there are two other possibilities, though, one that could happen and one that almost surely could not. The first is that the other could play right field against a lefty with Brown on the bench. The second is the other could play first base with Howard on the bench (that’s the one that’s not going to happen whether it makes sense or not).

Domonic Brown is 25-years-old and has 109 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching in which he has hit 208/284/302 with one home run, which came on September 10, 2012, off of Wade LeBlanc. Not trying to be a downer here, but lefties slugged .547 against the lefty LeBlanc in 2012. So he wasn’t exactly a lefty-killer.

Still, one can argue that Brown has the potential to develop into a very good all-around player against left-handed pitching, that getting to that point is going to require at-bats against lefties and giving them to him is in the best interest of the Phillies.

I think there’s also a case to be made that we simply don’t have enough data on Domonic Brown hitting against left-handed pitching. Similarly, you could also say there’s just not enough data on Ruf to conclude Ruf is going to be better all-around against lefties in right field than Brown. It seems likely he would offer more offensively, but with a huge question mark in terms of the glove. I do think it’s reasonable to conclude that Mayberry would be better in right overall against lefties than Brown in the short term, but Mayberry is probably in the lineup against a lefty in left field anyway given that we know he can handle left defensively and hit lefties. We don’t know either of those things about Ruf. My guess is that Ruf’s outfield defense will make it tough to play him there. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

With Ryan Howard, it’s not the case that we’re lacking data against left-handed pitching. He’s been terrible against lefties in four of the last five years.

There is close to no chance we’re going to see Mayberry take a significant number of starts from Howard against lefties at first in 2013 when Howard is healthy. But it’s likely he would deliver better performance than Howard if he did, both offensively and defensively.

Here’s what Howard and Mayberry have done against left-handed pitching over the last five seasons (Mayberry only got at least 50 plate appearances against lefties in 2011 and 2012):

Howard Mayberry
Year PA wOBA vs L Line vs L PA wOBA vs L Line vs L
2012 106 .261 173/226/378 180 .345 271/317/494
2011 185 .283 224/286/347 120 .405 306/358/595
2010 216 .359 264/333/492 6 - -
2009 252 .290 207/298/356 38 - -
2008 265 .319 224/294/451 - - -

In each of the last two years, Mayberry has been clearly better than Howard against lefties. 2010 is the only year in the last five that Howard has been non-terrible against lefties. In that season, Howard hit for about the same average that Mayberry hit against lefties in 2012, the lesser of Mayberry’s last two seasons against lefties, with about the same power. He walked a little more.

Mayberry is almost surely going to be better offensively against lefties than Howard is in 2013.

He would very likely be better defensively as well. Howard posted a negative dWAR for the seventh straight year in 2012 and his UZR/150 of -15.6 at first base was the worst mark for his career. Mayberry’s career UZR/150 at first in about 285 defensive innings is -0.2.

Of course, Mayberry doesn’t have to play first to get into the lineup against lefties. In fact, given the current roster, outfield options and the fact that he’s almost surely a better defense outfielder than Ruf, Mayberry seems likely to be starting in left field against left-handed pitching if the roster stays the same.

So the question really becomes whether Ruf would be better overall against lefties than Howard. There’s close to no data on Ruf in the majors, but to me the answers are both that he likely would fare better than Howard against lefties and that’s it’s not likely to happen a whole lot in 2013, if ever, as long as Howard is healthy.

Jonathan Singleton, traded the the Astros in the deal that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies in July of 2011, has been suspended for 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy.

Polanco says he ready to be the everyday third baseman for Miami. Not It.

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