Elbow gloom

Placido Polanco started 2010 on a roll. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBI on opening day and was hitting 397/403/586 for the year at the start of the day on April 21 . He didn’t make it through that game, though. He was drilled on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch and suffered an injury that would impact the rest of his season.

Polanco was able to stay on the field through most of the year and contributed several key hits in the post-season before off-season surgery at the end of last month. He wasn’t hitting .397 or slugging .586 anymore by the time the year came to an end, though. The Phils put him on the DL on June 26 and he returned on July 17. From July 21 to the end of the season, Polanco hit 280/331/345 over 321 plate appearances. Things seemed to get worse as the season progressed and any power he had was all but drained. From August 18 to the end of the regular season, Polanco got 181 plate appearances in which he hit 241/306/290.

That’s all about the injury, though, and we should expect him back pounding the ball again in 2011. Right?

Maybe so. But my problem with that is this: Polanco’s numbers from 2010 and his numbers from 2009 look awfully similar:

’09 DET 675 285 331 396 727
’10 PHI 602 298 339 386 726

Tim Hudson might have ruined his 2010 season by hitting him with a pitch, but it’s harder to see how that ruined his 2009 season. Polanco walked at nearly identical rates in ’09 and ’10 — 5.33% in ’09 and 5.32% in ’10. He hit more singles in 2010 than in 2009, but delivered fewer extra-base hits and the ones he did deliver went for fewer bases. The 2010 season continued a downward trend for Polanco in terms of how regularly he’s delivered extra-base hits and how good they are when they come:

Year PA per XBH TB per XBH
2007 13.4 2.44
2008 14.0 2.42
2009 15.0 2.53
2010 17.2 2.40

Polanco hit ten home runs for the Tigers in 2009, which is the most he has hit since hitting 17 in 2004. That helped him shoot his total bases per extra-base hit up in 2009. Everything else on that list is bad, though, as the extra-base hits are definitely getting less and less frequent.

This suggests that Werth could be looking for seven years, $120 million. I don’t think he’s going to get that, but I’m close to 100% sure he’s not going to get it from the Phillies.

This article suggests the Phils, Nationals, Angels, Tigers and Red Sox may be the teams most interested in trying to land Werth. The Nationals? That would be surprising to me.

Jamie Moyer hurt his elbow again and talks about his time with the Phillies in the past tense. Moyer is a free agent and hoped to pitch in 2011.

John Mayberry strained his calf after just one game in the AFL. The same article says that Domonic Brown and David Herndon will report for winter ball next week.

Third word

Placido Polanco hasn’t played third base for a while, but how good was he when he did? The table below looks at each of the years of his career in which he has played at least 100 innings at third and compares his Total Fielding Runs Above Average (Rtot/yr) per season as calculated by Baseball-Reference to the other players on the same team that played at least 100 innings at third the same year:

Year Team Innings at
Worse than
2000 STL 187 Fernando
Tatis (27.0 to -8.4)
Paquette (27.0 to -2.1)
2001 STL 810 Albert Pujols
(22.1 to 6.9)
Paquette (22.1 to -1.9)
2002 STL 587 Albert Pujols
(13.3 to -2.5)
Scott Rolen
(13.3 to 22.2)
2002 PHI 479 2/3 Scott Rolen
(21.3 to 8.4)
2003 PHI 179 Tyler Houston
(-22.8 to -23.2)
David Bell
(-22.8 to 16.0)
        Tomas Perez
(-22.8 to 2.8)

Polanco was very good in all of those years except 2003. Craig Paquette, Fernando Tatis and Albert Pujols aren’t guys especially known for their glove work, but Polanco fared better than all three of them at St Louis according to the stat before Rolen arrived on the scene. 2003 was a miserable year defensively for Polanco at third. In 2004 he didn’t quite get the 100 innings he needed to make the chart — he played just 96 innings at third in ’04 but was very good, putting up Rtot/yr of 51.2 in limited action.

Yesterday the Phillies beat the Astros 8-7. Kendrick got the start and pitched well again, allowing two runs, only one of which was earned, over 5 2/3 innings. Bastardo gave up a three-run homer to Chris Shelton in the eighth inning, pushing his spring ERA to 7.71. Ben Francisco hit his third home run of the spring. Victorino was 3-for-3 and is hitting .314. Castro played short and made a pair of errors.

Kendrick has a 1.37 ERA and an 0.81 ratio in 19 2/3 spring innings.

This says that the Phillies continue to look for pitching depth.

This suggests that the Phillies might let us know if Kendrick or Moyer is the fifth starter on or around March 31.

I-really-wish-it-were-so effect

Is Placido Polanco going to get more extra-base hits playing in Citizens Bank? Well, over the past three years the Phillies overall haven’t gotten that many more extra-base hits at Citizens Bank Park than they have hitting away from it. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances that Phillies hitters have gotten extra-base hits at home and away from home since the 2007 season:

  XBH PA % of PA
2009 Home 286 3096 9.2
2009 Away 285 3242 8.8
2008 Home 266 3091 8.6
2008 Away 275 3182 8.6
2007 Home 283 3159 9.0
2007 Away 297 3377 8.8

So in 2009, Phillies batters got extra-base hits in about 0.4% more of their plate appearances at home than on the road. In 2008 the rate of getting extra-base hits per plate appearance was actually a tiny bit better on the road and in 2007 it was about 0.2% better at home.

Let’s say that averages out to about 0.2% better overall. That’s one more extra-base hit every 500 plate appearances.

For his career, Polanco has 399 extra-base hits in 6,017 plate appearances (6.63%). He got 675 plate appearances last year — based on his career rate of getting extra-base hits we would have expected 45 extra-base hits. That’s exactly what he had, hitting 31 doubles, four triples and ten home runs. If he had gotten extra-base hits in 0.2 percent more of his plate appearances we would have expected him to have 46 extra-base hits instead of 45. That’s not really a huge difference.

The curious thing, though, is that Polanco has monster numbers at Citizens Bank park in a pretty large number of at-bats. In 381 plate appearances he has hit 334/386/485 with 12 home runs. He only has 90 home runs in his career, so 12 is a lot. He’s gotten 6.3% of his career plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park and he has hit 13.3% of his career homers.

For his career, he has extra-base hits in 7.3% of his PA at Citizens Bank Park — that would be 49 extra-base hits over 675 at-bats instead of 45.

Polanco hit a career-high 17 home runs playing for the Phillies in 2004 — ten of them at Citizens Bank Park and seven on the road. He has hit 40 home runs in five seasons and 2,991 plate appearances since.

So what’s it all mean? Well, we’ll see. My guess is that what you see is what you get with Polanco and we shouldn’t expect big things from the move to Citizens Bank Park. If you know a magic park that makes him walk more, though, now’s the time to speak up.

The Phils topped the Yankees 6-2 in spring training action yesterday. Blanton got the start and allowed two runs over five innings. Contreras followed with two scoreless frames and Escalona and Durbin each pitched a scoreless inning. After walking two in his inning, Escalona now has an 11.25 ERA and a 2.75 ratio in four spring training appearances. Werth provided the big blow of the game, a three-run homer in the fifth. Rollins and Howard each had two hits.

This says that Romero hopes to pitch in the series against the Nationals that starts April 12. It also says that Polanco may play tomorrow and Utley has not played since Monday with an upper respiratory infection.

Phils are off today. Happ will pitch in a minor league game.

Sports betting odds and lines available at Bodog.com.

Singles night after night after night

Question of the day is if we would all be happy if Polanco hits .300 this year with all singles. There’s exactly zero percent chance that’s going to happen of course, but the answer of the day is no.

If you’re looking for a real player who hit .300 last year with all of his hits going for singles, you’re probably not going to be able to get much closer than Luis Castillo. Castillo hit .302 in 2009 with just 16 extra-base hits for the season. Here’s what his numbers look like:

Luis Castillo, 2009
580 16 .302 .387 .346 .732

So Castillo put up a nifty .387 on-base percentage, but thanks to slugging .346 for the year his OPS was just .732. The average NL team got a .741 OPS from their second baseman in 2009, so, by OPS, Castillo wasn’t an especially good offensive player as a second baseman despite hitting .302.

It would be worse than that for Polanco, who walks less than Castillo did in 2009. In ’09, Castillo walked in 69 of 580 plate appearances. That’s about 11.9%. In his career, Polanco has walked 314 times in 6,017 plate appearances. That’s just 5.2%. Here’s what Polanco’s numbers look like if he hits .300 with all singles but gets walks, hit by pitch and sacrifices at his career levels over the 580 plate appearances that Castillo got in 2009:

Polanco, never happened
580 0 .300 .341 .300 .642

Imaginary Polanco goes 160-for-533 with 30 walks, seven hit by pitches and ten sacrifices. Much worse walk rate plus worse rate of getting extra-base hits make things worse overall. The non-existent Polanco year in which he hit .300 he puts up a miserable .642 OPS, which isn’t good enough to play anywhere. .741 was the average OPS by team for second baseman in the NL last year, but third basemen have to hit a little more — the average OPS by team for third basemen in the NL was up to .752.

So, by OPS, if Polanco were literally to hit all singles and wanted to put up the .752 OPS of an average third baseman while getting walks, hit by pitches and sacrifices at his career levels, here’s what he would need to do:

Polanco, never happened
580 0 .358 .395 .358 .753

If he walked, got hit by pitches and registered sacrifices at his career levels, Polanco would need to hit .358 to post an OPS that was about the same as an average NL third baseman from 2009 if every hit he got was a single.

That’s not going to happen, of course. For his career, Polanco has registered doubles in about 4.6% of his PA, triples in about 0.5% and home runs in about 1.5%. Based on those numbers, over Castillo’s 580 plate appearances we would expect Polanco to put up 27 doubles, three triples and nine home runs.

And if he did that while registering walks etc over 580 plate appearances, he would need to hit a mere .300 to post an OPS that bettered the NL average third base mark in 2009:

Polanco, never happened
580 39 .300 .341 .413 .754

He’s 160-for-533 now, still with the 30 walks and the 39 extra-base hits described above. I think that the answer is not that if Polanco hits .300 with all singles we should be satisfied with his work as an offensive player as a third baseman, but that if he is going to continue to register walks and extra-base hits at his career levels he can be an average third baseman by OPS if he hits .300.

Hamels and Domonic Brown both had big days yesterday as the Phils topped the Tigers 6-1. Hamels allowed an unearned run on two singles over five innings. Brown hit a pair of home runs, one off of Justin Verlander and the other off of Phil Coke, and went 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBI on the day. Bastardo, Madson and Baez all pitched in the game after Hamels and combined to allow one walk over three innings. Bastardo struck out two in a perfect eighth. Howard hit a two-run shot, his first of the spring, to account for the Phillies runs that weren’t driven in by Brown.

Brown was sent to minor league camp after the game.

The article linked above also says that Polanco hopes to play Friday and that Romero will face live batters today.

Lidge is working on holding runners on and, hopefully, remembering to cover third base.

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