Last year, righty Jayson Werth was the full-time right fielder for the Phils. He got 652 plate appearances. Of those, 453 (69.5%) came against right-handed pitching and 199 (30.5%) came against left-handed pitching.
The question for the day is, if Ben Francisco got 453 plate appearances against righties and 199 against lefties in 2011 and produced at his career levels, what would his numbers look like for the season? And how would that compare to an average National League right fielder from last season?
The righty Francisco has 1,221 career plate appearances. 71% of them have come against righties and 29% of them have come against lefties. He has a 262/323/440 line against righties and a 267/347/460 line against lefties.
Here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which Francisco has gotten a hit, a double, triple, home run, walked or struck out over his career while hitting right and left-handed:
The numbers above suggest that over his career, Francisco has been slightly more likely to get a hit against a righty than a lefty and more likely to double, but more likely to strike out and a lot less likely to walk. To double in 6.8% of your plate appearances against righties is a big deal. It adds up to a lot of doubles pretty quick. You may remember Werth doubling a whole lot last season. He doubled in about 7.1% of his plate appearances against them on his way to 32 doubles against righties for the year.
And here’s how his percentages look combined vs the NL average for right fielders from 2010:
|Average NL RF ’10||23.5||4.9||0.6||3.3||9.0||21.1|
In 2010, the average NL team saw their right fielders hit 264/335/443. Over his career, Francisco has been a tiny bit more likely to get a hit, a lot more likely to double and less likely to strike out, but a little less likely to homer and a lot less likely to walk.
Back to Werth and his plate appearances. Over 453 plate appearances versus right-handed pitchers, here’s what we would expect Francisco to do if he produced at his career levels:
And against lefties over 199 plate appearances:
And if you combine them, you get this:
And that’s pretty all right — especially if you consider Ben Francisco as the everyday right fielder as the worst possible scenario for the Phillies. The .330 on-base percentage probably won’t make you feel all a-flutter, but it does suggest that there’s a good chance the Phils could be league average at the position. Here’s how those numbers compare to the numbers for the league average NL right fielder from 2010 over the same 652 plate appearances:
|AVG ’10 RF||652||580||153||32||4||21||81||58||137||264||335||441||776|
That’s pretty similar. Francisco walks a little less, but strikes out less too, and delivers ten more doubles. Forty-three doubles is a ton. Werth led the NL last year and he hit 46. Only 12 players in either league hit 43 or more doubles in 2010. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, the three slash categories above are calculated based on rounded numbers for hits, doubles triples, etc. The actual estimates are 42.6 doubles, 0.5 triples and 20.9 homers.
The biggest issue, though, isn’t whether Francisco is good enough offensively to be an average right fielder. He is. The issue is that the goal isn’t to have an average right fielder, and it’s especially not the goal for the Phillies in 2011. And if you’re regularly putting a guy in right field that’s going to on-base .323 against righties, that’s a place where you can and should improve your team if you’re looking to win it all. And the Phillies will — even if Domonic Brown flounders in 2011, I’m going to be real surprised if the Phils let Francisco play every day in right.
This post from Todd Zolecki says the Phils have 33 pitchers and catchers in camp and that, according to Amaro, Antonio Bastardo is a little behind schedule after having some discomfort in his left elbow while pitching this winter.
The Phillies signed left-handed outfielder Cory Sullivan to a minor league deal. The left-handed outfielder part is good, but Sullivan turns 32 in August and has a career 271/327/381 line in 1,272 plate appearances. He played regularly for the Rockies in center in 2005 and 2006, but has gotten just 405 plate appearances since the end of the 2006 season, posting a 251/318/353 line.