Tag: Cliff Lee

The highway is alive tonight, but nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes

Sittin’ down here in the campfire light, searchin’ for the ghost of like six different people, including, surprisingly, Cliff Lee.

The Phillies exploded for 14 Opening Day runs yesterday afternoon, topping the Rangers 14-10. The Phils jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with the help of a second-inning grand slam from Jimmy Rollins, but Texas stormed back with eight runs charged to Lee over his five innings.

The Phillie offense kept pounding away, though, bashing out 17 hits, including six for extra-bases. Rollins, Byrd and Asche all hit home runs in the game. Utley, Asche and Revere all had three hits. John Mayberry came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit, two-run double in the fifth.

The Phils hit 13 home runs in their final 26 games in 2013.

The bullpen was actually a little better than you might think for a team that allowed ten runs. Lee obviously wasn’t at his best, allowing eight runs, but Bastardo and Papelbon were very solid at the back of the pen in the game, combining to throw 2 1/3 scoreless frames in which they allowed one base-runner. Diekman was fantastic in the sixth, but came back to start the seventh and allowed both of the hitters he faced to reach base. Rosenberg tried to bail him out, but didn’t have much success, allowing three of the four hitters he faced to reach as Texas scored twice.

The Phillies are 1-0 on the year after beating the Texas Rangers 14-10 yesterday afternoon.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing eight runs on 11 hits and a walk. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and a three-run homer. After striking out 26 in 24 2/3 innings in Spring Training, he struck out just one.

Opponents are hitting .423 against Lee after one start. He didn’t allow 11 or more hits in any of his 31 starts in 2013 and allowed more than nine once (April 25 he allowed ten hits to the Pirates).

Lee set the Rangers down in order in the bottom of the first.

He started the second up 6-0. Adrian Beltre led off with a double to left and held second when Alex Rios reached on an infield single. Mitch Moreland flew to center for the first out before J.P. Arencibia drew a walk that loaded the bases for Leonys Martin. Martin singled to right and everyone moved up a base. 6-1 with the bases still loaded for Josh Wilson. Wilson doubled to left, clearing the bases. 6-4. Shin-Soo Choo grounded to second for the second out with Wilson moving up to third. Elvis Andrus flew to right to leave Wilson stranded.

Four runs in the frame for the Rangers on two doubles, two singles and a walk. All to righties except the single by the lefty Martin. Righty Josh Wilson delivers the big hit of the frame, a two-run double. The righty Beltre doubles off of Lee to get things started. Lee was ahead of Arencibia 0-2 but couldn’t put him away as Arencibia worked a seven-pitch walk ahead of the Martin single.

Prince Fielder and Beltre singled back-to-back to start the third, putting men on first and second for Rios. Rios hit a 1-0 pitch out to left-center, putting Texas up 7-6. Lee got the next three hitters in order with the help of a nice diving play by Revere in center on a ball hit by Arencibia for the second out.

The righty Rios delivers the second three-run swing in two innings for the Rangers.

It was 7-7 when Lee started the fourth. He allowed singles to Wilson and Andrus in the frame, but kept the Rangers off the board, getting Beltre on a ground ball to third to end the inning with two men on.

He started the fifth up 9-7. Arencibia doubled with two outs and scored when Martin followed with a single to center. 9-8. Wilson flew to center for the third out.

The Phillies led 13-8 when Diekman threw a 1-2-3 sixth, striking out Choo and Fielder.

The lefty Diekman impresses against the big Texas lefties, striking out Choo (left) looking and Fielder (left) swinging. Nice time for Sandberg to use Diekman and like the Mayberry move it worked out well for him.

Diekman came back for the seventh and things didn’t go as well. He faced Beltre and Rios, both righties, and they both reached on a Beltre walk and a Rios single. It left men on first and second with nobody out and Rosenberg came in to pitch to the right-handed pinch-hitter Michael Choice. Choice singled to center, loading the bases for Arencibia. Rosenberg got Arencibia to ground into a double-play, scoring Beltre from third (13-9) and leaving Rios at third with two down for Martin. Rosenberg walked Martin and the left-handed Jim Adduci hit for the righty Wilson. Adduci singled to left, scoring Rios (13-10) and moving Martin up to second. Bastardo took over to pitch to the lefty Choo and walked him, putting two men on for Andrus. Andrus grounded to Utley to end the inning.

After a fantastic sixth, Diekman faces two hitters in the frame and both reach base.

Rosenberg faces four hitters in the game, allowing two singles and a walk and getting the other, Arencibia, to ground into a double-play.

Bastardo faces two hitters in the frame, walking the lefty he was called on to get out before retiring the righty Andrus on a ground ball.

Bastrado set Fielder, Beltre and Rios down in order in the eighth with the Phils up 14-10.

Impressive frame for Bastardo against some good hitters. He gets four outs in the game. He got more than three outs in just five of his 48 appearances in 2013.

Papelbon threw a 1-2-3 ninth with a four-run lead in the ninth.

Diekman and Bastardo both appear in two innings in the game. Diekman threw 23 pitches and didn’t have success coming back for the second frame. Bastardo threw 24 pitches and was great coming back for a second inning. Rosenberg wasn’t charged with a run in the game, but didn’t pitch well, throwing 12 pitches. Twelve pitches for Paplebon in his 1-2-3 frame.

Overall the pen went four innings in the game, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks. Three is too many to walk in four innings. Four is too many innings for the pen to pitch regularly. Diekman tries to go more than one inning after a great sixth and it doesn’t work. Rosenberg comes into the game with a 5.44 career ERA and struggles. Bastardo and Papelbon both pitch really well. You probably don’t want to see Papelbon pitching with a four-run lead too often, even with Thursday’s scheduled off-day. Ditto Bastardo going more than one inning.

The Phillie lineup against righty Tanner Scheppers went (1) Ben Revere (2) Jimmy Rollins (3) Chase Utley (4) Ryan Howard (5) Marlon Byrd (6) Domonic Brown (7) Carlos Ruiz (8) Cody Asche (9) Tony Gwynn, Jr. Brown at DH with Gwynn in left. The righty Byrd breaks up lefties Utley, Howard and Brown. Revere leads off with Rollins hitting second. Rollins last led off for the Phils on August 22, 2013. He hit somewhere other than leadoff for his last 140 PA in ’13. Revere was hitting leadoff for 192 of his 332 plate appearances in 2013, about 57.8%. He was in the leadoff spot on July 7, 2013, when he injured his ankle to end his season and had been for seven straight games. He entered the game with a career .313 on-base percentage while hitting first in the order over 773 plate appearances.

Brown at DH on Opening Day sure isn’t a sign the Phillies have a lot of confidence he has achieved his goal of being the best defensive outfielder in the game yet. Ryan Howard played defense for the Phils in the game — playing Howard defensively in a DH game is a poor idea.

Do you remember that the Phillies started John Mayberry and Erik Kratz on Opening Day in 2013? They did. Michael Young, too.

Revere, Rollins and Utley went in order in the top of the first.

The Phillies scored six times in the top of the second. Howard and Ruiz both drew walks while Brown and Byrd when down on a line out and a ground out. It left the Phils with two down and runners on first and second for Asche. Asche doubled to left on a 1-0 pitch, putting the Phils up 1-0 with men on second and third. Gwynn walked to load the bases for Revere. Revere singled into center with everyone moving up a base. 2-0 with the bases still loaded for Rollins. Rollins hit a 1-0 pitch out to right for a grand slam. 6-0. Utley grounded to second to end the frame.

Three walks in the frame. Howard, Ruiz and Gwynn. Rollins delivers the big blow on Opening Day after a ridiculous Spring Training in which he hit .173. Howard manages to score from second on a two-out double.

The lead was cut to 6-4 when the Phillies hit in the third. Howard and Bryd started the inning with back-to-back singles and moved up to second and third with Brown at the plate. Brown popped out to Beltre at third for the first out. Ruiz was next and hit a ground ball to short with Andrus coming home to get Howard for the second out. Asche grounded back to Scheppers to turn the Phils away.

No run for the Phils after putting men on second and third with nobody out. Brown pops out for the first out and Howard is thrown out at the plate on the ground out.

The Phillies trailed 7-6 when they hit in the fourth. Revere singled to left with one out and stole second before Rollins went down looking for the second out. Utley was next and singled to right on a ball deflected by Wilson at second, scoring Revere. 7-7. Howard moved Utley up to third with another single before Byrd popped to first to set the Phillies down.

Ruiz singled off of lefty Pedro Figueroa with one out in the fifth. Asche followed with a walk and Mayberry hit for the lefty Gwynn, lining a two-run double to center that put the Phils up 9-7. Revere and Rollins both flew out to leave Mayberry at second.

The lefty Asche draws a walk off of the lefty Figueroa. Great to see Mayberry hitting against lefties and he delivers the two-run double.

The lead was cut to 9-8 when the Phillies hit in the sixth. Utley and Howard went down to start the frame before Byrd hit the first pitch he saw from Figueroa out to left, putting the Phils up 10-8. Brown followed and singled into center. He stole second before righty Alexi Ogando took over for Figueroa and walked Ruiz, putting men on first and second for Asche. Asche singled on a ball deflected by Ogando, allowing Brown to score (11-8) and moving Ruiz up to second. Mayberry followed with a walk that loaded the bases for Revere and Revere singled to center, scoring Ruiz and Asche (13-8) and leaving runners on the corners. Rolilns grounded to second to set the Phillies down.

Mayberry gets on base again, this time walking against the rigthy Ogando. Byrd’s first homer with the Phils. Revere delivers a two-run single on a three-hit day.

Utley singled off of Ogando to start the seventh, but Howard, Byrd and Brown all struck out behind him.

It was 13-10 when the Phils hit in the top of the eighth. With one out, Asche homered to right off of righty Scott Tolleson. 14-10. Mayberry and Revere went down behind him.

Monster day for Asche as he goes 3-for-4 with a walk, a double and a home run.

Utley doubled to left off of righty Seth Rosin with one out in the ninth, but Howard and Byrd went down to leave him stranded.

Rangers giving a ton of room off the third base line to lefties and Asche and Utley both deliver doubles to left in the game.

Revere 3-for-6 with three singles, a stolen base and three RBI. Made a very nice diving catch in center to take a double away from Arencibia in the third.

Rollins 1-for-6 with a grand slam.

Utley 3-for-6 with a double and an RBI.

Howard 2-for-5 with a walk and two singles. Struck out three times. If he’s going to on-base .500, he can strike out as much as he wants. He’s not going to.

Byrd 2-for-6 with a home run. Left five men on base.

Brown 1-for-5 with a single and a stolen base.

Ruiz 1-for-3 and walked twice.

Asche 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and a walk. Two RBI. I’d watch what he does against left-handed pitching pretty closely in the early going — so far he’s 0-for-0 with a walk. He went 7-for-32 with a .265 on-base percentage against lefties last year.

Gwynn 0-for-1 with a walk. Hoping for the best, but he’s not really a guy you should be thrilled starting in left field for you on Opening Day. Came into the game having on-based .297 over his last 956 plate appearances.

Mayberry didn’t start, but had a big day. 1-for-2 with a walk, a double and two RBI. Sandberg picked a fantastic time to use him as a pinch-hitter, whether it worked or not. It worked.

A..J Burnett makes his first start as a Phillie tonight against lefty Martin Perez. Burnett has had two good years in a row and comes into the outing with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.23 ratio over his last 61 starts. The 22-year-old Perez made 20 starts for the Rangers in 2013, throwing to a 3.62 ERA and a 1.34 ratio. Lefties actually fared a little better than righties against the lefty Perez in 2013, posting a 282/349/410 line compared to 262/312/406 for righties.


Irreversible errors

Atlanta 8, Phillies 1. Cliff Lee got the start and pitched well, but the Braves scored five runs charged to Papelbon in the seventh inning, all of which were unearned thanks to another Maikel Franco error. That’s not to suggest that Papelbon pitched well.

Franco and Ryan Howard combined to make two errors in the game and have combined for five overall.

The Phillies scored one run on five singles and a double in the game.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and went 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five. Jason Heyward was the first batter of the game and homered on Lee’s second pitch. Lee struck out the side in the second and worked around a Ryan Howard error in the third. In the fourth he got the first two before allowing a single to Chris Johnson. Mario Hollands replaced him and allowed a home run to the first man he faced, Dan Uggla, with Johnson scoring a run charged to Lee.

4.15 ERA and a 1.04 ratio for Lee after three starts and 8 2/3 innings. He’s pitched better than that ERA — Hollands allowing a home run after he surrendered a two-out single is the kind of thing that will hurt your ERA when you’ve thrown 8 2/3 innings. Ten strikeouts.

Hollands allowed the home run to Uggla in the fourth, then allowed a double to Gerald Laird before getting the final out of the frame. He allowed a single and a walk in a scoreless fifth and a walk in a scoreless sixth.

Overall he went 2 1/3 innings, allowing a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out two.

Not a good day for Hollands coming off of three good ones. He came into the day with a 0.00 ERA and an 0.50 ratio after three appearances and four innings. 1.42 ERA and a 1.11 ratio after today. Five strikeouts in 6 1/3. Again, gave up a two-run homer to the first batter he faced with one run charged to Lee.

Jonathan Papelbon started the seventh. Coming into the appearance he had allowed one hit in two scoreless innings over two outings. Tyler Greene was the first batter he faced and Greene reached on a throwing error by Franco at third base, Franco’s third in official spring action. After Franco’s error, Papelbon faced eight hitters before getting out of the inning. Three singled and he walked one before Tommy La Stella hit a three-run double.

Overall, Papelbon was charged with five runs in the inning on four hits and a walk. None of the runs were earned due to Franco’s error.

Papelbon keeps his zero ERA despite allowing five runs in the frame. He has a 2.00 ratio, having allowed five hits and a walk over three innings.

Ken Giles started the eighth with a 4.50 ERA and a 2.00 ratio over his two official outings. He allowed a single and a walk, but struck out the other three hitters he faced. Keeps his ratio at 2.00 and drops his ERA to 3.00. Three walks in his three innings.

Justin De Fratus threw a 1-2-3 ninth to drop his ERA to 2.25 and his ratio to 1.00. No walks and four hits in four innings.

One run on six hits for the Phillies. Reid Brignac singled Mayberry home in the eighth.

Brignac 1-for-1 with an RBI to up his average to .143.

Marlon Byrd had the only extra-base hit in the game for the Phillies. He was 1-for-2 with a walk and a double to up his line to 375/400/583.

Utley, Abreu, Franco and Mayberry had the other singles for the Phils. Utley upped his average to .158 with the 1-for-3 day. Mayberry has a 389/389/833 line after 18 at-bats. Franco is hitting 200/259/200 after going 1-for-3. Abreu is 3-for-20 (.150) after going 1-for-2 with a walk. He’s on-basing .370.

Revere 0-for-3, Rollins 0-for-3, Brown 0-for-3. Revere 240/269/240. Rollins is hitting .133 and Brown is 2-for-22 (.091) with two singles.

Howard 0-for-2 with a walk to drop his average to .182.

Atlanta again tomorrow with David Buchanan expected to pitch.


Take two

Wasn’t a lot better than the first one.

The Phils fell to Toronto for the second straight day this afternoon, losing 7-5.

Cliff Lee started the game, coming off of a 2013 campaign in which he was the best Phillie by a wide margin. He went two innings in the game, allowing a run on two hits while striking out three.

He allowed a run on back-to-back doubles to righties Jose Bautista and Moises Sierra in the first and struck out two in a 1-2-3 second.

Brad Lincoln started the third and should have set Toronto down in order. Didn’t happen. With two outs and nobody on, Sierra hit a ball that Asche fielded at third. Asche threw to first, but Maikel Franco didn’t handle the throw at first and was charged with his second error in two days. Bautista followed that with an RBI-double before Lincoln got Edwin Encarnacion looking to leave Bautista at second.

Franco charged with a fielding error at first after making a throwing error fielding Chris Getz‘s bunt at third yesterday. He appeared at first eight times in 2013 at Double-A after not appearing there at all in any previous years.

Diekman pitched the fourth and faced seven batters, allowing two runs on four hits, all singles.

Not a good start for Diekman, but I’d guess he has a good shot to start the year with the team despite his 5.70 ERA in 30 innings at Triple-A last year. He fared much better while with the Phils, throwing to a 2.58 ERA with a less impressive 1.30 ratio.

Ethan Martin pitched the fifth and it wasn’t good. He faced four batters and all four reached on walk, single, double, double. Michael Stutes took over for him and faced four batters, three of which he retired and one of which reached on a throwing error by the catcher Nieves.

Awful for Martin, who left the game with discomfort in his right shoulder, but a nice showing for Stutes in his first appearance.

Mario Hollands pitched the sixth for the Phils and set Toronto down in order. The 25-year-old lefty made 27 appearances (20 starts) between Clearwater and Reading in 2013, throwing to a 2.86 ERA with a 1.23 ratio.

Rosenberg followed Hollands. He set Toronto down in order in the seventh and again in the eighth.

Great day for Rosenberg. Threw to a 2.45 ERA with a 1.09 ratio in his first 16 appearances before allowing six runs in five innings his last six times out for the Phils last year. May be older than you think — he turned 28 in September.

The Phillies scored five runs in the game. Ruf hit a two-run homer off of righty Esmil Rogers and Mayberry hit a solo shot off of lefty Aaron Loup. Revere scored on a passed ball in the first and Franco scored in the eighth on a play that featured a throwing error by Toronto first baseman Andy LaRoche on a might-have-been double-play.

Ruf was 1-for-3 with a walk and a two-run homer after drawing a walk in his only appearance yesterday. Was good (269/363/500) against righties last year and homered off of one today.

Mayberry 2-for-3 with a solo homer in his first action. Didn’t appear in center field even once today, which should be lauded.

Revere was 3-for-4 with three singles. 4-for-6 in the early going.

Abreu 0-for-2 with two more walks. 0-for-3 with four walks.

Franco, Nieves, Frandsen, Asche all went 0-for-3. Franco drew a walk. Galvis 0-for-4.

Franco made an error on a non-catch and Nieves a throwing error.

This from Ryne Sandberg on Ryan Howard: “You want to see if he can make [lefties] throw the ball over the plate. Be patient, be relaxed in those situations. Get a good ball to hit. Make the pitcher come to him. If it means being patient and taking walks, that’s for the betterment of the team. Spit on it, take the walk and be a baserunner. Will that result in some walks? Seventy-five to 100, 120? Probably.” I offer two related predictions: 1) Ryan Howard will walk less than 120 times in 2014 2) if Ryan Howard walks 120 times in 2014 the Phillies will win the World Series. Howard has averaged 24 walks a season over the past two years, walking 48 times in 609 plate appearances. He walked more than 100 times in a season twice — 108 in 2006 and 107 in 2007. Walking a hundred times in a season is hard. Across both leagues, three players did it in 2013. Joey Votto (135), Shin-Soo Choo (112) and Mike Trout (110).

I really don’t see a lot of reason for left-handed pitchers to walk Ryan Howard, either. Howard hit 173/218/321 against lefties in 2013 after hitting 173/226/378 against them in 2012. He’s walked eight times against left-handed pitching over the past two seasons (193 PA).

Tigers tomorrow with Kendrick expected to pitch.


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.


Rate hike

Questions yesterday about whether opposing hitters were more likely to walk in 2013 when Carlos Ruiz was catching for the Phils. That part’s easy — the answer is yes, they were. The harder part is how important that information is and I’m a lot less sure about that. In order to conclude anything, we’d need to look at more complete information about who was doing the pitching, the game situation and the quality of the hitters they were facing.

Still, the overall results were a little surprising to me. The Phillies used five catchers in 2013: Ruiz, Erik Kratz, Humberto Quintero, Cameron Rupp and Steven Lerud. Here’s the total number of plate appearances each caught and the team’s walk rate with them catching:

BF % of BF BB %
All PHI 6213 100 8.1
Ruiz 3251 52.3 9.0
Kratz 2060 33.2 7.5
Quintero 718 11.6 6.4
Rupp 116 1.9 6.0
Lerud 68 1.1 7.4
Not Ruiz 2962 47.7 7.2

So Ruiz caught 52.3% of the batters and during those plate appearances, Phillie opponents walked 9.0% of the time. The other four catchers caught 47.7% of the time and in those chances opponents walked in 7.2% of their plate appearances.

Here’s the breakdown for the three catchers other than Rupp and Lerud for the eight starting pitchers on the ’13 Phils that got at least eight starts.

Pitcher BF Ruiz Kratz Quintero
Hamels 905 61.8/5.9 26.4/5.9 11.8/2.8
Lee 876 55.0/4.1 39.2/3.2 5.8/2.0
Kendrick 800 38.8/4.2 55.1/6.8 6.1/8.2
Pettibone 437 52.6/10.0 21.3/7.5 26.1/7.0
Lannan 332 57.5/10.5 10.8/5.6 31.6/5.4
Cloyd 282 33.9/11.6 50.7/7.7 -
Halladay 282 50.0/16.3 15.2/11.6 34.8/8.2
Martin 190 66.8/15.7 24.7/10.6 -

So, looking, for example, at the top line, Ruiz caught 61.8% of the batters that Hamels pitched to in 2013 and those batters walked in 5.9% of their plate appearances. Quintero caught 11.8% of the batters Hamels faced in 2013 and those batters walked in 2.8% of their PA.

Cloyd and Martin both pitched to Lerud and Rupp. Those numbers aren’t included above.

Of the eight pitchers listed above, six of them pitched to all three of Ruiz, Kratz and Quintero. Of those six, five, everyone except for Kendrick, issued walks at the highest rate while pitching to Ruiz and the at the lowest rate when pitching to Quintero (for Hamels, the 5.9% to Ruiz is a little higher, 5.903, than his 5.9% to Kratz, which is 5.858).

The other of the six that pitched to all three was Kendrick. He walked batters at his lowest rate while pitching to Ruiz and at his highest while pitching to Quintero. It should be noted that Kendrick’s time pitching to Quintero was especially limited. Quintero was behind the plate for just 49 of the 800 batters that Kendrick faced (6.1%).

The other two pitchers on the list, Cloyd and Martin, didn’t pitch to Quintero, but each of them walked batters at a higher rate while pitching to Ruiz than they did to Kratz.

I think it’s hugely important to remember there are a lot of factors at play. For example, Roy Halladay and Ethan Martin each had very high walk rates for the season, regardless of who was catching them. Ruiz caught more than two-thirds of Martin’s innings and half of Halladay’s, which surely contributed to his walk rate being high relative to other catchers on the team. While the rate that each of those guys allowed walks was higher with Ruiz behind the plate, I still think it’s a leap to attribute much of anything to Ruiz without more complete information about the game situation and the quality of hitters the pitchers were facing.

If you look back at the last few years, it’s also not true to say that batters consistently walk more with Ruiz behind the plate than with someone else catching. It was in 2012, 7.1% for Ruiz and 6.2% for everyone else on the Phils, but in 2011 he was way under the walk rate with others catching (6.4% for Ruiz and 7.2% for everyone else). In both 2009 and 2010, the walk rate for hitters with Ruiz behind the plate was just about the same as the walk rate with anyone else behind the plate (6.8/6.9 in ’10 and 7.9/7.7 in ’09).


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