Oh, for it to be 2008 again

Yesterday’s post suggested that if you look at Young’s overall WAR numbers over the last five seasons, he doesn’t fare that well compared to the rest of the Phillies. That, in large part, is due to the fact that he’s been a pretty miserable defensive player of late, posting a negative dWAR in four of the last five years. Looking at the top five hitters by WAR on the Phillies over the last five seasons means he’s competing with players who accumulate significant value from their defense (Utley, Rollins, Ruiz and Victorino especially), which Young has not been able to do.

If you look just at the offensive numbers, Young’s bids to get into the top five among Phillie hitters in recent years improve quite a bit. Arguably, Young would have been the best hitter on the Phillies in 2011 among the players that got 400 plate appearances — 2011 wasn’t that long ago and it saw Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino all get at least 400 plate appearances with the Phils.

The table below shows where Young’s oWAR for all Phillies hitters and wOBA (for hitters with at least 400 plate appearances) ranks among Phillies for the last five seasons:

Year Rank oWAR wOBA
2008 1 Utley 5.7 Utley .389
2008 2 Rollins 3.5 Burrell .375
2008 3 Victorino 3.3 Werth .374
2008 - Young 3.2 (4) Young .328 (7)
2009 1 Utley 6.0 Utley .394
2009 2 Werth 4.0 Howard .392
2009 3 Howard 3.9 Ibanez .378
2009 - Young 4.0 (T-2) Young .385 (3)
2010 1 Werth 4.9 Werth .396
2010 2 Utley 3.9 Utley .370
2010 3 Ruiz 3.2 Ruiz/Howard .368
2010 - Young 2.7 (T-4) Young .336 (6)
2011 1 Victorino 5.0 Victorino .368
2011 2 Rollins 3.1 Howard .355
2011 3 Utley 2.9 Utley .338
2011 - Young 3.5 (2) Young .369 (1)
2012 1 Ruiz 4.0 Ruiz .398
2012 2 Rollins 3.1 Pence .340
2012 3 Utley 2.0 Rollins .322
2012 - Young -1.0 (26) Young .297 (7)

Young has been really good offensively in two of the last five years, hitting 338/380/474 in 2011 and 322/374/518 with 22 homers in 2009.

By oWAR, he would have been in the top two among Phillie hitters twice in the past five years and in the top four in four of the five.

By wOBA, he would have been the best Phillie hitter with at least 400 plate appearances in 2011 and the third best in 2009.

In 2012 he was unarguably terrible, but his career wOBA of .344, had he produced that and not the actual .297 he did put up, would have been second best on the team behind only Ruiz.

Young has had four really good offensive years, only one of which has come in the last five seasons. 2004, 2006 and 2009 were all really good and 2005, when he put up a 331/385/513 line, was probably the best.

Oh, for him to be Michael Young again

Michael Young’s 2012 season didn’t impress a whole lot of people. Baseball-Reference calculates his WAR at -2.4, the worst mark for any player, hitter or pitcher, in either league. FanGraphs calculates his WAR at -1.4 with only four players across both leagues compiling a worse WAR, all hitters.

Both sites agree he was bad at both offense and defense. Baseball-Reference calculates his oWAR at -1.0 (only ten players across both leagues had a worse mark) and his dWAR at -2.2 (only Rickie Weeks had a worse mark across both leagues). FanGraphs calculates his wOBA at .297, which is 104th best of the 114 players across both leagues with at least 550 plate appearances and gives him an UZR/150 rating of -20 or worse at both second and third base.

So he didn’t have a good year.

He has before, though. And recently.

Year bWAR fWAR
2008 2.8 2.8
2009 2.5 3.1
2010 1.6 2.6
2011 2.1 3.7
2012 -2.4 -1.4

So there was a big drop off in 2012 relative to recent years.

Where would his total WAR have ranked among Phillie batters over the last five years? The table below shows the top three hitters by WAR for each of the last five seasons as well as Young’s bWAR and fWAR and where that would rank among Phillie hitters:

Year bWAR fWAR
2008 1 Utley 8.8 Utley 8.3
2008 2 Rollins 5.3 Rollins 5.6
2008 3 Victorino 4.2 Werth 5.2
2008 - Young 2.8 (5) Young 2.8 (6)
2009 1 Utley 8.0 Utley 8.2
2009 2 Werth 4.2 Werth 5.0
2009 3 Howard/Victorino 3.5 Howard 4.6
2009 - Young 2.5 (T-6) Young 3.1 (6)
2010 1 Utley 5.7 Utley 5.4
2010 2 Werth 4.3 Werth 5.3
2010 3 Ruiz 3.9 Ruiz 4.4
2010 - Young 1.6 (7) Young 2.6 (6)
2011 1 Victorino 5.2 Victorino 5.9
2011 2 Utley 3.7 Utley 4.0
2011 3 Ruiz 2.6 Rollins 3.9
2011 - Young 2.1 (6) Young 3.7 (4)
2012 1 Ruiz 4.4 Ruiz 5.5
2012 2 Utley 2.9 Rollins 4.9
2012 3 Rollins 2.3 Utley 3.2
2012 - Young -2.4 (26) Young -1.4 (26)

By fWAR, his 2011 season would have had him fourth with the Phillies. By bWAR, his 2008 season would have had him fifth. Those are the only two years times in the last five seasons his total WAR would have had him in the top five for the Phillies using the calculation of either site.

In this mailbag from the Phillies web site, Todd Zolecki discusses the possibility that Ruf will start the year at Triple-A.

Bennie and the jets

The table below shows how Revere’s numbers compare to the numbers of fellow left-handed speedsters Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn in their age 23 and 24 seasons. Also included are the numbers for Pierre and Bourn for their next two years as well as what they did in 2011 and 2012 (Revere’s age 23 and 24 seasons).

Player and age Year PA AVG/OBP/SLG wOBA bWAR fWAR UZR/150 in OF
Revere 23 ’11 481 267/310/309 .278 (-.038) 0.7 2.0 14.4
Revere 24 ’12 553 294/333/342 .300 (-.015) 2.4 3.4 18.6
Pierre 23 ’01 683 327/378/415 .350 (+.023) 2.9 2.6 UKN
Pierre 24 ’02 640 287/332/343 .304 (-.022) 0.4 2.3 15.3
Pierre 25 ’03 747 305/361/373 .328 (+-0) 3.4 4.7 9.1
Pierre 26 ’04 748 326/374/407 .345 (+.015) 3.7 4.4 -4.9
Pierre 33 ’11 711 279/329/327 .296 (-.020) -0.8 -0.5 -10.7
Pierre 34 ’12 439 307/351/371 .320 (+.005) 1.9 1.7 -0.4
Bourn 23 ’06 11 - - - - -
Bourn 24 ’07 133 277/348/378 .320 (-.011) 0.9 1.2 22.9
Bourn 25 ’08 514 229/288/300 .267 (-.061) 0.7 0.2 4.0
Bourn 26 ’09 678 285/354/384 .330 (+.001) 4.7 4.9 9.9
Bourn 28 ’11 722 294/349/386 .325 (+.009) 3.0 4.1 -6.2
Bourn 29 ’12 703 274/348/391 .326 (+.011) 6.0 6.4 22.5

For wOBA, it’s important to remember that the average wOBA changes from year to year. So, for example, the 2011 wOBA line for Revere means that his actual wOBA for 2011 was .278 and that .278 was .038 lower than the average wOBA for the year of .316.

You can see the constants that FanGraphs uses for calculating wOBA here.

Bourn barely played at all when he was 23 or 24. Pierre was better offensively than Revere in his 23 and 24-year-old seasons, but not as good defensively, at least by UZR/150 in all outfield positions combined.

If you total up the WAR for Revere and Pierre for their age 23 and 24 seasons, Revere is at 3.1 bWAR and Pierre 3.3. By fWAR, Revere tops Pierre 5.4 to 4.9. Important to remember is that Pierre got a lot more chances to play and accumulate WAR in his age 23 and 24 seasons, getting 289 more plate appearances in the two years combined and playing 468 1/3 more innings in the outfield.

Bourn, notably, got just 144 plate appearances through his age 24 seasons and then was terrible in his age 25 season before putting up a big year with the Astros at age 26 (285/354/384 with 61 stolen bases).

Revere has displayed no power to date, even relative to the light-hitting Pierre and Bourn, and almost surely never will.

His isolated power in 2011 was .042. That was 175 of 175 players across both leagues with 450 or more plate appearances. Pierre was 174th on that list at .049.

In 2012, Revere was at .049. That was 114th of 114 players across both leagues with 550 or more plate appearances. Nobody else with 550 or more PA came close to showing that little power last year. Yunel Escobar was 113th of 114 and his isolated power was .091.

If you remove the 2006 season for Bourn in which he got 11 plate appearances, there are 13 seasons between Pierre, Bourn and Revere on the table above. Revere’s best mark for isolated power over the last two seasons is .049. There’s only one season in which either Pierre or Bourn has an isolated power worse than .049 — Pierre put up an .049 in 2011 on his way to a miserable, negative WAR season.

Bourn’s isolated power in 2012 was .117, which is the highest mark for any of the 13 seasons. Between both leagues, there were 148 players who got at least 500 plate appearances in 2012. Bourn’s isolated power of .117 was 122nd best of the 148.

The Phillies traded relievers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla to Texas for Michael Young. The linked article also suggests that the Rangers will pay about $10 million of Young’s 2012 salary, leaving $6 million for the Phillies to pay. It also suggests the Phillies paid Young $1.2 million to waive his no-trade clause and will give him a new no-trade clause.

Young was terrible in 2012. If he’s that bad again in 2013, that’s not going to work out for the Phillies. I like the deal, though, cause he still has upside and willing be playing for his next contract. Linblom’s numbers out of Dodger Stadium were never real impressive.

This article says that after the trade of Worley, the Phillies are looking for a low-risk, high-reward type guy to help fill out the rotation and mentions John Lannan, Dallas Braden, Carlos Zambrano and Roy Oswalt.

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:

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.


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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