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.


Hopefully there’s a third site out there somewhere that thinks they won it all last year

I’ll keep looking.

The last post looked at the Baseball-Reference calculated WAR for the top two Phillie pitchers in recent years relative to the accumulated WAR for all pitchers on the team. In this post I’ve done the same using WAR data calculated by FanGraphs and the results are even less impressive. Using the FanGraphs data, you have to go back more than twenty years to find a year in which 1) the percentage of the WAR generated by the top two Phillie pitchers relative to the total WAR generated by all the team’s pitchers was as high as it was in 2013 or 2) the combined WAR for all Phillie pitchers other than the top two was as low as it was in 2013. Both of those things last happened in 1992.

The data on the top two pitchers by WAR and the combined WAR for the others on that year’s staff are below. There’s a good chance it includes names you haven’t thought about in the context of leading the Phillie pitching staff in WAR for a long time, probably ever, including Cory Lidle, Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, Robert Person, Curt Schilling, Carlton Loewer, Mark Portugal, Mark Leiter, Sid Fernandez, Danny Jackson, Heathcliff Slocumb, Tommy Greene and Terry Mulholland.

Year Top 2 fWAR P Total P fWAR fWAR top 2 Top 2 % other P
’13 Lee (5.1), Hamels (4.2) 10.5 9.3 89 1.2
’12 Lee (4.9), Hamels (4.5) 19.0 9.4 49 9.6
’11 Halladay (8.1), Lee (6.5) 26.2 14.6 56 11.6
’10 Halladay (6.1), Hamels (3.5) 16.2 9.6 59 6.6
’09 Hamels (3.6), Lee (2.3) 11.5 5.9 51 5.6
’08 Hamels (4.3), Moyer (2.5) 14.1 6.8 48 7.3
’07 Hamels (3.7), Moyer (1.8) 8.2 5.5 67 2.7
’06 Myers (3.3), Hamels (2.4) 12.1 5.7 47 6.4
’05 Lidle (3.3), Myers (3.1) 13.9 6.4 46 7.5
’04 Millwood (2.6), Wolf (1.5) 11.0 4.1 37 6.9
’03 Millwood (4.5), Padilla (2.5) 15.5 7.0 45 8.5
’02 Wolf (3.7), Padilla (3.3) 11.3 7.0 62 4.3
’01 Wolf (3.3), Person (1.6) 12.6 4.9 39 7.7
’00 Person (3.4), Wolf (2.9) 10.6 6.3 59 4.3
’99 Schilling (3.4), Loewer (1.6) 8.5 5.0 59 3.5
’98 Schilling (8.3), Portugal (1.5) 12.2 9.8 80 2.4
’97 Schilling (8.4), M Leiter (2.0) 13.3 10.4 78 2.9
’96 Schilling (4.7), S Fernandez (1.7) 14.3 6.4 45 7.9
’95 Schilling (2.8), Quantrill (2.2) 11.4 5.0 44 6.4
’94 D Jackson (3.9), Slocumb (1.6) 10.6 5.5 52 5.1
’93 Greene (5.0), Schilling (4.9) 20.4 9.9 49 10.5
’92 Schilling (4.3), Mulholland (4.0) 8.4 8.3 99 0.1

From 1993 to 2012, the pitchers on the Phillies other than the two pitchers with the best fWAR for the team that season averaged about 6.4 fWAR. The combined fWAR of the top two pitchers on the team average about 7.3, which was an average of about 54% of the total fWAR for pitchers on the team.

Just about the only good news on the table above for the ’13 Phillies is that, relative to their own results over the last 22 years, the production of their two best pitchers is still very good. The 9.3 mark for Lee and Hamels combined in 2013 is topped in just six of the 21 years previous to ’13 — each of the last three years, two years in the late 90′s when Schilling was fantastic and 1993 when Schilling and Tommy Greene were both good.

The Schilling-led staffs of ’97 and ’98 came close, both in terms of percentage of total WAR by the top two and combined WAR for everyone other than the top two, but they didn’t get to 2013 levels in either category. That last happened in 1992.

The ’92 Phillies were miserable, going 70-92 to finish sixth in the six-team NL East. They had a fantastic offense that scored 686 runs, which was second-best in the NL that year. The pitching was terrible, allowing 717 runs in a season in which the second-worst team at preventing runs in the league, the Astros, allowed 668. Schilling, Mulholland and Ben Rivera were just about the only positives on the staff for the Phils that season.

If it makes you feel any better, you may remember that the 1993 Phils turned things around. Led by Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, John Kruk and Dave Hollins, they continued to pound the ball offensively, leading the NL with 5.41 runs scored per game in a year in which teams averaged 4.49. On the pitching side, Schilling and Mulholland again pitched well and got a lot of help from Danny Jackson, Larry Anderson and Tommy Greene. They were far from great at preventing runs, but did improve to eighth-best in the 14-team NL in ’93. The combination of great hitting and middle of the pack pitching proved to be enough to top the Braves in a six-game NLCS before dropping the World Series against the Blue Jays in six. The pitching didn’t exactly excel in the World Series that year as the Phils failed to hold a 14-9 lead going into the eighth inning in game four and a 6-5 lead going into the ninth inning of game six.

The Phillies signed outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr and Dave Sappelt to minor league contracts with invites to spring training. The 31-year-old Gwynn struggles with the bat and spent 2013 in the minors, but put up bWARs in the 2.2 to 2.9 range from 2009 to 2011 thanks in large part to solid defense in center field. In 2011, Gwynn played a lot more left than center for the Dodgers, but was very good defensively in left as well. Ben Revere‘s bWAR in 2013 was 0.8. Sappelt’s offensive numbers are also offensive, but again with good defensive numbers, primarily at the corner positions in limited time. Playing Tony Gwynn Jr in center is a much, much better idea than playing John Mayberry or Cesar Hernandez in center, especially if Gwynn can still produce defensively at the position. The problem with that is that the last time anyone gave him significant innings in center was 2012 and, at least according to UZR/150 as calculated by FanGraphs, his defense was way down. Whether Gwynn is part of the answer or not, Hernandez and Mayberry combined to start 68 games in center field for the Phillies in 2013, which is something the team might want to try not doing again for the rest of recorded time. Forty appearances for Frandsen at first should probably go on that list as well.

The Phils also signed catcher Lou Marson to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. He’s 27 now and has hit .219 in 882 major league plate appearances. He hit 314/433/416 in 395 plate appearances for Double-A Reading in 2008 before being traded to Cleveland in the deal that brought Cliff Lee to Philadelphia for the first time.

They also designated Sebastian Valle for assignment in order to make room for Roberto Hernandez on the 40-man roster. Wasn’t expecting that one. Valle hit 203/245/359 in 379 plate appearances at Reading in 2013.


Deep impact

In 2013, the total WAR for Phillie pitchers as calculated by Baseball-Reference was 14.2. As I’ve pointed out before, the Phils had two elite pitchers in ’13 in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee and that duo was backed by a slew of non-eliters. Hamels and Lee combined for 11.9 WAR, which is about 84% of the total WAR generated by Phillie pitchers. The 25 Phillie pitchers other than Hamels and Lee combined to generate 2.3 bWAR.

If you look back at recent years using the Baseball-Reference WAR data, these two things are true: 1) In 2013, the total WAR as that was generated by pitchers other than the top two was the worst it’s been since 2007 and 2) the percentage of the team’s total WAR for pitchers that was generated by the top two pitchers was the highest it has been since 2007.

Both of those things are bad. It’s nifty that Hamels and Lee are very good. They’re likely to continue being very good. But the Phillies are going to need a lot more from the other 25 guys pitching for the team before they’re going to be good again. Either that or improve their position players by a whole lot, but they’re more than a tweak away on that front as well.

Here’s a look at the two top pitchers for the Phillies by bWAR over the past seven years, the total WAR for the team’s pitchers that year, the combined WAR for the top two pitchers, the percentage of the team’s total WAR for pitchers the top two accounted for and the total WAR generated by all pitchers other than the top two.

Year Top 2 bWAR P Total P bWAR bWAR top 2 Top 2 % other P
’13 Lee (7.3), Hamels (4.6) 14.2 11.9 84 2.3
’12 Hamels (4.6), Lee (4.5) 13.0 9.1 70 3.9
’11 Halladay (8.9), Lee (8.6) 37.2 17.5 47 19.7
’10 Halladay (8.3), Hamels (5.4) 21.8 13.7 63 8.1
’09 Happ (4.2), Blanton (2.6) 11.8 8.8 75 3.0
’08 Hamels (4.3), Moyer (2.8) 13.2 7.1 54 6.1
’07 Hamels (4.1), Kendrick (2.2) 4.8 6.3 131 -1.5

In 2013, the WAR accumulated by the two best pitchers on the team was good relative to other recent years. It wasn’t 2011, but 2011 is never going to happen again. The Phillies aren’t likely to see their pitchers combine to throw to a WAR of 30 or better in any season in the next fifty years, much less 37.2.

It was everyone else who was terrible — as bad as the non-top two had been since 2007. In 2007, the Phils were the best hitting team in the NL by a wide margin, but everyone on the team other than Hamels and Kyle Kendrick combined to pitch to a WAR of -1.5. Adam Eaton made 30 starts with a 6.51 ERA and a 1.63 ratio. Antonio Alfonseca, Geoff Geary and Jose Mesa combined to make 158 appearances in relief in which they threw to a 5.02 ERA in 156 innings. The Phillies used 18 different pitchers who ended the season with an ERA over 5.00.

So it wasn’t good. 2013 wasn’t as bad as that for the Phils, but it wasn’t good and it wasn’t a move in the right direction. The Phillies are counting on Lee and Hamels to be good. The good news is that it’s going to happen. The bad news is it isn’t enough.

Finally, looking at 2008 numbers, I feel compelled to point out yet again that years from now there are going to be people who fondly remember the 2008 season and how Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay led a dominant Phillie pitching staff to World Series glory. That didn’t happen. Halladay and Lee weren’t on the team. Les Walrond was on the team. RJ Swindle was on the team. Halladay and Lee were not. The pitching wasn’t dominant. Hamels was very good, Moyer was good and the Brad Lidge-led bullpen was very good. Chase Utley was great. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard were all good. Howard hit 48 home runs and nearly won the MVP, finishing second behind Albert Pujols, despite having the sixth-best WAR for non-pitchers on his team. Utley had a bWAR of 9.0 and finished tied for 14th in the NL MVP voting. You can look it up.


And it’s all your fault. Yes, you. Next you’ll probably ask Howard to hit lefties, and who knows what might happen then.

In a recent post I pointed out that Darin Ruf walked in 11.3% of his plate appearances in 2013, which was the best rate of any Phillie by a lot. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the guy who finished second in that category. Among the Phillies with at least 35 plate appearances in ’13, the second-best walk rate on the team belonged to Jimmy Rollins.

Remember this? Earlier this year, before the start of the 2013 season, I pointed out that after years of fans pleading with him to improve his walk rate, Jimmy Rollins had done exactly that. He walked in about 7.2% of his 6,512 plate appearances from 2000 to 2009 and in about 9.3% of his 1,724 plate appearances from 2010 to 2012. That trend continued in 2013 — here’s what the numbers look like now:

PA BB%
2000-2009 6512 7.2
2010-2013 2390 9.2

In each of the past four seasons, Rollins has walked at a rate that’s better than league average:

NL AVG BB%
2010 8.5 10.2
2011 8.1 9.2
2012 7.9 8.9
2013 7.7 8.9

The problem is he walked more from 2010 to 2013 and became a worse hitter. From ’00 to ’09 he hit 274/329/439 and from 2010 to 2013 he hit 254/323/389. More walks, but a lot less hits over the last four seasons and with less power. His isolated power from 2000 to 2009 was .165 and over the last four years it’s been .135. In 2013, it dropped to .097, which is the first time he’s had an isolated power under .100 in any season in which he got 100 plate appearances.

Rollins was best offensively from 2004 to 2008. Here’s some of what he did offensively in those years, from 2000 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2013:

Years PA Line H% 1B% 2B% 3B% HR% BB or HBP%
00 to 09 6512 274/329/439 25.0 15.9 5.4 1.5 2.2 7.7
04 to 08 3618 286/342/468 26.1 16.3 5.6 1.7 2.5 8.1
10 to 13 2390 254/323/389 22.8 15.6 4.5 0.5 2.2 9.4

His walks are up over the past four years, but his hits are way down. He hit .274 through the end of 2009 and has hit .254 since the start of 2010. His rate of hitting singles isn’t off that terribly, 15.9% of plate appearances from ’00 to ’09 and 15.6% over the last four years, but his extra-base hits have dropped dramatically. He delivered extra-base hits in about 9.1% of his plate appearances through 2009 and about 7.2% since. His home run rate has stayed about the same, but with a third of his ’00 to ’09 rate for triples over the past four seasons while his double rate has dropped from about 5.4% to 4.5%.

The Phillies traded Erik Kratz and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen to the Blue Jays for 28-year-old right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln. Lincoln was the fourth pick of the 2006 draft and has a 4.66 ERA and a 1.39 ratio over 97 major league appearances, 22 of which have been starts. The Phils acquired the 24-year-old Rasmussen from the Dodgers in the Michael Young deal in early September. I think it’s a good deal for the Phils. Lincoln has upside and has been better over the last two years, throwing to a 3.76 ERA with a 1.29 ratio while striking out 113 in 119 2/3 innings. He walked way too many hitters last year, holding opponents to a .233 average, but with a .366 on-base percentage as he walked 22 in 31 2/3 innings.

The Phils also signed 36-year-old right-handed catcher Wil Nieves and Nieves will presumably backup Ruiz. Nieves had the best offensive year of his career last season, hitting 297/320/369 with one home run in 206 plate appearances with the Padres. He’s had a negative bWAR for six straight seasons and it’s a little tough to get excited about the move. I think Kratz is better than Nieves even if Rasmussen turns out not to be a contributor for anyone. So let’s hope things work out with Lincoln.


What else can Brown do for you?

Field, maybe? Walk every now and again?

First, to be clear: I think the Phillies should start Domonic Brown in left field. This year, next year and the year after that. The reason I think that is I think he’s going to get better than he was in 2013. I also think Darin Ruf doesn’t belong in left field and the Phillies make a mistake when they play him there.

Whether or not we think Brown is going to get better is important, though, because if we don’t, and if you just look at the numbers for Brown and Ruf from 2013, it doesn’t seem clear that Brown is the better choice in left.

In fact, while it’s very close, I think both of these things were true in 2013:

  1. In fewer plate appearances, Ruf was better offensively than Brown, despite the fact that the righty Ruf didn’t hit lefties at all and Brown finished fourth in the NL in home runs.
  2. Ruf was better defensively in left than Brown. They were both terrible, but Ruf was a little less terrible.

So if Ruf was better at offense and defense and they’re about the same age (Ruf is 27 and Brown turned 26 two months ago), it seems odd the whole world, including me, would think it would be ridiculous to start Ruf over Brown in left.

But just about the whole world does.

First the defense. Both were really bad defensive players in left field. Brown was really bad in a lot of innings and Ruf was slightly worse in a lot fewer innings. Here are their 2013 UZR/150 numbers in left from FanGraphs:

Inn UZR/150
Brown 1123 2/3 -13.6
Ruf 144 2/3 -12.6

Ruf also played 44 innings of left for the Phils in 2012, posting an UZR/150 of -13.1, very similar to his -12.6 in more innings last year. Brown played 141 2/3 innings in left in 2012 with an UZR/150 of -5.6. Brown hasn’t been as hide-your-eyes awful in left as he was in right field in 2010 and 2011, but in 2013 he played his first full season in left and the defensive results were really bad. There were 26 players across both leagues who played at least 500 innings in left in 2013 and Brown’s UZR/150 at the position was 23rd-best.

The point here isn’t that Ruf can play left field. It’s that just because Ruf is terrible defensively in left doesn’t mean that Brown isn’t also. Ruf needs to play first base for the Phillies when he plays. Whichever outfield position he plays, Brown needs to get a whole lot better defensively. And if he doesn’t, it’s going to be close to impossible for him to become an elite player.

Here are some of the offensive numbers:

wOBA % 1B % BB/HBP % 2B % 3B % HR % H/BB/HBP
Ruf .354 12.6 13.7 3.8 0.0 4.8 34.8
Brown .351 15.4 7.4 3.9 0.7 5.0 32.4

Ruf has the slightly better wOBA. A lot more singles for Brown and the pair delivered home runs and doubles at about the same rate, but Ruf was way more likely, almost twice as likely, to reach on walk or a hit-by-pitch. Brown winds up with slightly more power, but a worse on-base percentage despite a better hit rate (the percentage of plate appearances that were hits, walks or hit-by-pitches is the same as the player’s on-base percentages with the decimal points moved. Ruf on-based .348 and Brown .324).

Brown and Ruf both reached base via a walk or a hit-by-pitch 40 times in 2013. Ruf got his 40 walks plus hit-by-pitches in 293 plate appearances and Brown got his in 540.

Other thoughts:

  • There were three hitters on the Phillies with a wOBA better than .335 last year: Utley (.356), Ruf (.354) and Brown (.351). The Phillies don’t have a lot of good hitters and should do what they can to get the ones they do have on the field. Marlon Byrd .364, by the way.
  • Ruf was one of the best hitters on the team despite the fact that the righty was terrible against left-handed pitching, posting a 188/309/348 against them. He seems likely to be better against left-handed pitching going forward.
  • On the down side for Ruf, he finished the season in miserable, worrying fashion. After hitting 303/410/551 over his first 105 plate appearances, he hit just 216/314/407 over his last 188 chances. Those last 188 plate appearances are about 57% of his career plate appearances.
  • Ruf’s walk rate in 2013 of 11.3% was very high, 44th of the 316 players across both leagues that had at least 250 plate appearances. Per the bullet point directly above, Ruf was miserable over his last 188 plate appearances, but still walked in about 10.6% of his plate appearances with good power. The bad news is his BABIP in the 105 plate appearances in which he was good before the 188 when he was terrible — it was .400 for the first 105 and .280 for the last 188.
  • Ruf also got hit by a lot of pitches in 2013, which helped his on-base percentage. He was hit seven times in 293 plate appearances, which is about 2.4% or about 2.7 times the league average of 0.9%.

It seems to me the best approach for the Phillies is to play Byrd in right, Brown in left and platoon Ruf and Howard at first base. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but it’s probably not that. Pretty sure they will play Byrd in right and Brown in left, but first base seems like a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine kinda situation, especially if your guess involves the guy earning $25 million (whether he hits or plays defense or not) or Kevin Frandsen. I’d play Ruf at first a lot, against both righties and lefties, until he stops being one of the best hitters on the team. That might not take that long, but I’d give it a try anyway.


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