Tag: Abraham Nunez

Third things first

The Phillies’ effort to try to find offensive production at third base through the process of elimination continues. So do the lackluster results. Here’s what Phillies hitters playing third base have done over the past four years compared to the rest of the NL and the rest of MLB, using OPS as the measure:





















If you’re looking for a bright side, at least things aren’t getting worse.

In 2008, Phillies third basemen hit 245/295/400. The .295 on-base percentage that they posted was the worst in all of baseball.

A .695 OPS for the Phillies third basemen seems like it should be impossible. Feliz and Dobbs got most of the time there and Feliz put up a .705 OPS for the year and Dobbs an .824 OPS for the year. Part of the answer to that one is that they got to .705 and .824 by having fantastic years as pinch-hitters (although Dobbs, as you’ll see below, actually posted a better OPS while playing third than he did overall). Most fans know that Dobbs was great as a pinch-hitter in ’08, he went 22-for-62 (355/388/532). In many fewer chances, though, so was Feliz. Feliz went 7-for-16 as a pinch-hitter, putting up a 438/471/688 line.

Dobbs’ numbers dropped overall because he went 4-for-22 with three singles and a double when he wasn’t at third or pinch-hitting.

Anyhow, despite the great numbers as pinch-hitters, it seems like Feliz must be mostly to blame for the .695 OPS for the group. And he is, with an assist to Bruntlett, who was terrible with the bat while playing third in 2008. Here’s the guys that got the at-bats for the Phils while playing third in ’08 and what they did:





Pedro Feliz




Greg Dobbs




Eric Bruntlett




Mike Cervenak


Carlos Ruiz also went 0-for-1 as a 3B for the Phils in ’08, but it’s clear that Feliz and his .296 on-base percentage did much of the damage.

Feliz did out-OPS Abraham Nunez as a third baseman in 2008 compared to what Nunez did for the Phils in ’07. But not by a whole lot. In 2007, Nunez got 212 at-bats for the Phils at 3B and hit 255/342/311 (.653 OPS). Notably, however, Nunez did hit for a higher batting average and got on base more. Nunez didn’t exactly set the bar at unreachable levels in terms of getting extra-base hits. In 2007, he had 11, ten doubles and a triple, in 243 plate appearances as a third baseman for the Phils (he got an extra-base hit in about 4.5% of his plate appearances). Feliz had 33 extra-base hits, 18 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs, in 445 plate appearances as a 3B for the Phils in ’08. That’s an extra-base hit in about 7.4% of his plate appearances.

This suggests the Braves have offered Derek Lowe four years, $60 million. If the Mets and Braves are going to be in a bidding war it might as well be over who gets to sign Derek Lowe to a long contract.

Gabe Kapler agreed to a one-year deal with the Rays. Nomar is apparently busy playing soccer. This says that Gariciaparra has “compartment syndrome” in his calf and suggests it would require him to undergo painful therapy to break up scar tissue if he continues to play.

Chan Ho Park will not pitch for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic.

Ad: TicketCity has tickets to see the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

I am not saying they are overrated; I am just saying that if Hanley Ramirez played in New York they would have to implement some sort of tithing system

I’m generally against anything that makes the Mets better offensively, but it might be worth it if it meant we got to see Mets’ fans have to bring a tenth of their goats, cows and comeliest women and leave them at the door of Hanley’s apartment.

Five teams in the NL East. This is what the player that played the most innings defensively at shortstop and the player that played the most innings defensively at third base did with the bat last year:







FLA Ramirez 639 .332 .386 .562 .948
FLA Cabrera 588 .320 .401 .565 .965
FLA Total 1227 .326 .393 .563 .956
ATL Renteria 494 .332 .390 .470 .860
ATL Chipper 513 .337 .425 .604 1.029
ATL Total 1007 .335 .408 .538 .947
NYM Reyes 681 .280 .354 .421 .775
NYM Wright 604 .325 .416 .546 .963
NYM Total 1285 .301 .384 .480 .864
PHI J-Roll 716 .296 .344 .531 .875
PHI Nunez 252 .234 .318 .282 .600
PHI Total 968 .280 .337 .466 .803
WAS Lopez 603 .245 .308 .352 .659
WAS Zimmerman 653 .266 .330 .458 .788
WAS Total 1256 .256 .319 .407 .726

Reyes and Wright are fantastic. Last year they were just less fantastic than the duo of Chipper and Renteria, though, and less fantastic than Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. More fantastic than the offerings of the Phillies and the Nats. Reyes was almost inarguably the fourth-best hitting shortstop in the division and, well, there are only five teams in the division.

Hitting isn’t everything, of course. The chart above doesn’t account for the contribution through the stolen base. Or defense. Ramirez and Cabrera in particular pale in comparison defensively to Wright and Reyes.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were not fantastic. Their numbers look bad as they are and they are actually skewed positively for the Phils in the chart above. Because Rollins got so many more at-bats than Nunez his numbers are more heavily weighted, resulting in a higher OPS. At the same time, Lopez was miserable for the Nats at short last year while Guzman hit the ball well. So the Nats numbers are a bit lower than if they were actually reflecting the offense they got from the position rather than just from Lopez. If you use the numbers of all Phils’ third baseman and recalculate, and all the Nats’ shortstops, the Phils still post a .789 OPS, higher than the .769 for the Nats. But closer. And closer still when you consider that the Nationals play in a much worse place to hit.

So it’s nice to see that Reyes and Wright haven’t been dominating the division. Couple of problems, though, and they’re are spearheaded by these: Reyes and Wright are going to get better and the rest of the division is going to get worse. Of the guys who outpaced them in ’07, two of them, Cabrera and Renteria, now play in Detroit where their impact on the NL East is likely to be minimal.

In 2008, Yunel Escobar will replace Renteria at short for the Braves. He has just about zero chance at producing the offense that Renteria did last year (I would also guess he doesn’t have much chance to produce the offense that he produced last year, either). Chipper also arguably comes off his best season in the last eight, so the chances are good his numbers will be down. I think Reyes/Wright hit better than the Braves’ second and third combo in ’08.

The Fish, meanwhile, will replace Miguel Cabrera with a motley cast of characters. It’s kinda ugly but at the moment it looks like a combination of Dallas McPherson, Jose Castillo and Jorge Cantu. Ramirez’s numbers last year were other worldly — chances are good they’ll be down in ’08 as well.

Going into the season you’d have to pick Wright/Reyes to be the best duo of hitters. I’d go Chipper/Escobar behind them, but it’s close with the Marlins. Feliz and Rollins for the Phils and Zimmerman and Guzman for the Nats seems destined to drag up the rear in ’08 as well.

The Phillies played two games yesterday and are 4-4 in spring training after splitting the pair.

In one of the games they beat the Blue Jays 6-1.

Myers got the start for the Phils and pitched very well, allowing three hits over four shutout innings. He didn’t walk a hitter. Shane Youman followed Myers and tossed three scoreless frames, holding Detroit to two singles. Madson pitched the eighth and the ninth and allowed a run on two hits.

Utley was 1-for-3 with a double and drove in two runs. Ruiz was also 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI, he’s hitting .455 (5-for-11). Helms had two hits, going 2-for-3 with a double. Val Pascucci hit a solo home run in his only at-bat. Rollins was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .133.

In the other game the Phils lost to the Tigers 6-2.

JD Durbin got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over four innings, all on solo home runs. Carlos Guillen got him twice and Magglio Ordonez hit the other one. Happ followed Durbin and allowed a run on two innings on two singles and a double. Condrey pitched the seventh and allowed another run on two singles and a double. Holdzkom pitched the eighth and allowed a run when walked the leadoff man, balked him to second and he came around to score on two sac flies.

Brandon Watson had two hits, including a double, for the Phils. Burrell went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .154. Snelling was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, he’s hitting .167.

Phils play the Devil Rays today.

Kris Benson will pitch in a minor league game on Saturday.

Rowand doesn’t give an expletive where the Giants hit him.

This says that Lidge is still hopeful he can return by opening day. It also says that Rollins is not worried by his early slump.

The Mets’ Moises Alou will have hernia surgery today and will miss four to six weeks.

No duck left behind

For the Phillies’ hitters that got at least 200 plate appearances in 2007, here’s a look at how many of their plate appearances came with at least one runner on base, their OPS in plate appearances with at least one runner on base, their total plate appearances and OPS for the season, and the percentage of their plate appearances that came with at least one runner on base:

Runners on  Total




Howard 367 1.123 648 .976 57
Rowand 326 .821 684 .889 48
Rollins 292 .914 778 .875 38
Utley 290 .945 613 .976 47
Burrell 287 .947 598 .902 48
Ruiz 212 .810 429 .736 49
Victorino 209 .775 510 .770 41
Dobbs 185 .707 358 .781 52
Helms 167 .725 308 .665 54
Nunez 148 .559 287 .600 52
Werth 136 1.027 304 .863 45

Four of the 11, Dobbs, Utley, Nunez and Rowand, posted a lower OPS with runners on than with the bases empty. Of the group, Werth was the hitter whose OPS improved the most with men aboard with Howard not far behind.

It’s great to see Howard as the guy getting the highest percentage of his plate appearances with men on base. All those base runners for Nunez is not.

One of the things that was striking about the numbers to me was how often the guys at the bottom of the order, specifically Dobbs, Helms and Nunez, came up with men aboard. This makes sense when you think about Utley, Howard and Burrell hitting 3-4-5 for the Phils. All three have a reasonable chance to on-base .400 in ’08 and that means a lot of ducks for the guys that follow and especially the six-hitter, who looks like it should be Jenkins or Werth much of the time in ’08.

The other thing that sticks out is the lack of a real two-hitter in the Phils lineup, meaning that when Utley hits third he does so with nobody aboard more than you would like him to.

Leadoff hitter Rollins, who was one of the five best hitters on the team, hit with nobody on base significantly more than even the worst hitters on the team. I think you can make a good case that Rollins should be hitting leadoff, but not using the numbers presented here. They seems to suggest just the opposite.

Finally, I always find it interesting that Howard and Utley posted the same .976 OPS in 2007.

David Wright says the Phils are the team to beat in the NL East this season.

The Phillies continue to monitor Kris Benson and this article says they are a lot more serious about him than they’ve led on. A healthy Benson would help the Phils a lot.

Desperate for outs after losing Nunez, Phils vote for Pedro

Without an answer at third base since Scott Rolen departed in 2002, the Phillies appear poised to open yet another chapter in the saga. It’s really kind of a tough book to recommend.

Pending a physical, it seems the Phillies will sign 32-year-old Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract worth $8.5 million with a club option for 2010.

Feliz is a fantastic defensive player and sure to give the Phils a boost with the glove, but the news is disappointing. The fact that Dobbs and Helms are both barely passable defensively at third base was a big problem. But the answer wasn’t a guy with nearly 3,000 career at-bats and a career-high on-base percentage of .305.

Feliz is good for 20 home runs a year, maybe more at Citizens Bank Park. He hasn’t slugged over .430 in the last three seasons, though. In 2007 he slugged .418 — Helms, Nunez and Ruiz were the only three Phils to get 200 at-bats and post a worse slugging percentage.

He’s just a mess as an offensive player. He cut down on his strikeouts last season, posting under 100 whiffs for the first time since 2004. He’s drawn 100 walks in the last three years combined (Burrell and Howard both walked over 100 times in 2007). He hits into a lot of double-plays. Most importantly, though, he just can’t hit left-handed or right-handed hitting. He’s a career 263/305/437 hitter against righties and 248/282/431 against lefties.

His addition would almost surely mean there’s no room on the team for both Dobbs and Helms. The Phils deal Helms for a relief pitcher seems like the best bet, but it’s not exactly going to be an example of selling high. I’d love to see Dobbs continue to get a bunch of starts at third base against righties, bad defense or not. We’ll have to wait and see what the Phillies say and do, but I’d be surprised if they brought in Feliz to do something besides play third base every day.

If Dobbs does go to the bench it does solve the no-lefty on the bench problem. That was a small one, though.

Up till now I thought Eric Bruntlett’s role was going to be primarily as the guy who plays third base in the late innings. Don’t know what he’s going to do now, but he seems sure to hang on to a job as the Phils need someone to back up second and short and their choices are extremely limited.

Using OPS as the measure, the Phils got less offense from their third basemen in 2007 than any other team in the National League. They posted a .688 OPS. Except for five innings played by Russell Branyan, Dobbs, Nunez and Helms got all the time at third base last season. Offensively overall on the year, Nunez was terrible, Helms was terrible and Dobbs was okay. But in the at-bats Dobbs got as a third baseman, he was just wretched. Here’s what Dobbs did in his at-bats last season when he was playing third base and in his at-bats last season when he wasn’t playing third base:





Dobbs as 3B 190 .232 .293 .347 .641
Dobbs not as 3B 134 .328 .380 .597 .977

I think you can make the argument that it was simply a fluke that Dobbs was so much worse offensively when he played third base in 2007 than when he played other positions. In the same way, Helms is virtually guaranteed to produce more offense in 2008 than he did in 2007. The Phillies got some miserable production out of third in ’07, but there was a good chance that Dobbs, Helms and Bruntlett of ’08 were going to outplay Dobbs, Helms and Nunez of ’07 by a lot offensively.

The Phillies gave Abraham Nunez 212 at-bats as a third baseman last season in which he hit a miserable 255/342/311. If you’re going to give that kind of an offensive player that many at-bats you can’t be surprised when you wind up the worst in the league at the position. Your third base situation is just terrible if you have to do that — Nunez at third was a weak solution, but apparently it was the best the Phillies could come up with. Charlie Manuel just wasn’t going to regularly let Dobbs or Helms play third late in a close game. Given those options, my guess is that we would have seen a ton of Bruntlett at third in ’08 as a defensive replacement, burning the bat of Dobbs or Helms early. I’m not saying that would have been a good way to handle the situation, but I think it’s what Manuel would have done. If the plan was to give Bruntlett Nunez-like numbers of at-bats at third in an effort to address the problem that Dobbs and Helms are barely passable defensively there, giving those at-bats to Feliz instead would be an improvement.

The addition of Feliz guarantees that the team will be better defensively at third than they have been for a long time. Since Scott Rolen, in fact. Feliz and Rollins are going to do about as good a job as anyone at keeping ground balls from going through the left side of the infield. And the team can and will score runs, whoever the third baseman is. What they need to figure out is how to prevent them.

Sure wish they would have tried getting a pitcher, though.

This from the Phillies web site also says that Chad Durbin is likely the fifth guy in the bullpen behind Lidge, Romero, Gordon and Madson.

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