Tag: Darin Ruf

Let the right one in right

If you believe what you read pretty much everywhere, if the Phillies start 2013 without outfield additions, we’re likely to regularly see a Phillie lineup early in the season that features Domonic Brown in right and Mayberry in left.

There’s not a lot of data about those players defensively in right and left. What there is, though, suggests the Phillies might want to do it the other way around, putting Mayberry in right and Brown in left.

This has more to do with Mayberry than Brown. Mayberry has played just 131 defensive innings in right field in his career, but his defensive numbers at the position are exceptional. I don’t think it’s likely that Mayberry proves to be an elite defensive player in right field. But I do think the Phillies should play him there instead of in left when they have the option for as long as it takes for his numbers to indicate otherwise. Right now they say he’s fantastic.

Here is the UZR/150 for Brown, Mayberry and Ruf in left field:

Player Year Innings in LF UZR/150
Brown 2012 141 2/3 -5.8
Mayberry 2012 330 5.4
Mayberry 2011 161 1/3 27.7
Mayberry 2009 96 1/3 -42.2
Mayberry Career 587 2/3 0.1
Ruf 2012 46 -4.9

Again, it’s a tiny amount of data, but the data that exists say that Mayberry was terrible in left in 2009 and has been good since. Brown and Ruf haven’t been very good, but most would guess that Brown’s defensive numbers are likely to improve from his ’12 marks while Ruf’s are likely to get worse.

Here are the numbers for the three in right field:

Player Year Innings in RF UZR/150
Brown 2012 308 -8.9
Brown 2011 451 -26.0
Brown 2010 112 -37.9
Brown Career 871 -21.7
Mayberry 2012 24 63.5
Mayberry 2011 66 1/3 18.6
Mayberry 2010 10 8.7
Mayberry 2009 30 2/3 84.0
Mayberry Career 131 44.6

Brown has been atrocious in right field — so horrid in 2010 and 2011 that it was a relief in 2012 when he was merely bad. Last year was the first in which he saw time in left and his numbers in left, while still not good, were a little better than his 2012 numbers in right.

The main point here, though, is that while Mayberry has played a very small number of innings in right, he has had fantastic defensive numbers in the time he’s been there. Again, there’s close to no chance that they would continue to be that good given significant time in right. Still, I’d put him there long enough for them to go down.

I also think moving Brown from right to left has the potential to take some pressure off of him, allowing him to focus on hitting. I’m guessing it doesn’t happen, though. I think the Phillies think Brown should be a right fielder and are going to play him there. That shift may have already happened — in 2012, the first eight starts that Brown made were in left. After those eight starts, he made 43 starts the rest of the way and 38 of them were in right.

This article suggests that Cole Hamels has had shoulder soreness this offseason and that Amaro does not view it as an issue.

The article linked above also mentions the upcoming World Baseball Classic and discusses players who could be potentially leaving camp because of it. It mentions Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Jimmy Rollins as possibilities.

This article suggests that Amaro and Manuel are not satisfied with the outfield. It’s a little tough to imagine what your outfield goals would have to be for 2013 to be satisfied with the current outfield.

The article linked directly above also says that Halladay, Howard, Rollins and Kendrick are already working out in Florida and that Howard’s lower left leg is close to 100 percent.

Phillies Nation is sponsoring “Wiffadelphia,” a charity Whiffleball tournament to benefit Philabundance. The tournament will be held on March 9 in Medford, NJ. Event details here.


Three’s a kind of motley crowd

I think the Phillies are going to add an outfielder in the near future.

If they don’t, they seem poised to start 2013 with a combination of Laynce Nix, John Mayberry and Darin Ruf manning left field. There’s a whole lot of problems with that. One of them is that that’s one too many right-handed hitters for a two-man platoon — Mayberry and Ruf can’t both play left field against a lefty.

The most likely scenario if the roster plays out as it is has Mayberry or Ruf on the bench against left-handed pitching. I think there are two other possibilities, though, one that could happen and one that almost surely could not. The first is that the other could play right field against a lefty with Brown on the bench. The second is the other could play first base with Howard on the bench (that’s the one that’s not going to happen whether it makes sense or not).

Domonic Brown is 25-years-old and has 109 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching in which he has hit 208/284/302 with one home run, which came on September 10, 2012, off of Wade LeBlanc. Not trying to be a downer here, but lefties slugged .547 against the lefty LeBlanc in 2012. So he wasn’t exactly a lefty-killer.

Still, one can argue that Brown has the potential to develop into a very good all-around player against left-handed pitching, that getting to that point is going to require at-bats against lefties and giving them to him is in the best interest of the Phillies.

I think there’s also a case to be made that we simply don’t have enough data on Domonic Brown hitting against left-handed pitching. Similarly, you could also say there’s just not enough data on Ruf to conclude Ruf is going to be better all-around against lefties in right field than Brown. It seems likely he would offer more offensively, but with a huge question mark in terms of the glove. I do think it’s reasonable to conclude that Mayberry would be better in right overall against lefties than Brown in the short term, but Mayberry is probably in the lineup against a lefty in left field anyway given that we know he can handle left defensively and hit lefties. We don’t know either of those things about Ruf. My guess is that Ruf’s outfield defense will make it tough to play him there. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

With Ryan Howard, it’s not the case that we’re lacking data against left-handed pitching. He’s been terrible against lefties in four of the last five years.

There is close to no chance we’re going to see Mayberry take a significant number of starts from Howard against lefties at first in 2013 when Howard is healthy. But it’s likely he would deliver better performance than Howard if he did, both offensively and defensively.

Here’s what Howard and Mayberry have done against left-handed pitching over the last five seasons (Mayberry only got at least 50 plate appearances against lefties in 2011 and 2012):

Howard Mayberry
Year PA wOBA vs L Line vs L PA wOBA vs L Line vs L
2012 106 .261 173/226/378 180 .345 271/317/494
2011 185 .283 224/286/347 120 .405 306/358/595
2010 216 .359 264/333/492 6 - -
2009 252 .290 207/298/356 38 - -
2008 265 .319 224/294/451 - - -

In each of the last two years, Mayberry has been clearly better than Howard against lefties. 2010 is the only year in the last five that Howard has been non-terrible against lefties. In that season, Howard hit for about the same average that Mayberry hit against lefties in 2012, the lesser of Mayberry’s last two seasons against lefties, with about the same power. He walked a little more.

Mayberry is almost surely going to be better offensively against lefties than Howard is in 2013.

He would very likely be better defensively as well. Howard posted a negative dWAR for the seventh straight year in 2012 and his UZR/150 of -15.6 at first base was the worst mark for his career. Mayberry’s career UZR/150 at first in about 285 defensive innings is -0.2.

Of course, Mayberry doesn’t have to play first to get into the lineup against lefties. In fact, given the current roster, outfield options and the fact that he’s almost surely a better defense outfielder than Ruf, Mayberry seems likely to be starting in left field against left-handed pitching if the roster stays the same.

So the question really becomes whether Ruf would be better overall against lefties than Howard. There’s close to no data on Ruf in the majors, but to me the answers are both that he likely would fare better than Howard against lefties and that’s it’s not likely to happen a whole lot in 2013, if ever, as long as Howard is healthy.

Jonathan Singleton, traded the the Astros in the deal that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies in July of 2011, has been suspended for 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy.

Polanco says he ready to be the everyday third baseman for Miami. Not It.


Their better half

In the most recent post, I took a guess at the hitters who might start the year with the Phillies as well as the guys contending for the other spots. Here’s today’s guess about the pitchers:

Other candidates
1 Halladay (R) P Aumont (R)
2 Lee (L) T Cloyd (R)
3 Hamels (L) J De Fratus (R)
4 Kendrick (R) M Schwimer (R)
5 Lannan (L) M Stutes (R)
6 Papelbon (R) BJ Rosenberg (R)
7 Adams (R) E Martin (R)
8 Bastardo (L) J Pettibone (R)
9 JC Ramirez (R)
10 Z Miner (R)
11 J Horst (L)
12 R Valdes (L)
J Diekman (L)
J Savery (L)
M Robles (L)
C Jimenez (L)

Lannan and Bastardo are the guys I feel least sure of among the eight pitchers I have on the team. But I think they both start the year on the staff with Lannan serving as the fifth starter. Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Kendrick, Papelbon and Adams seem like locks if they are healthy, although I think it’s possible, but unlikely, that Kendrick could be pitching out of the pen at the start of the year.

If those eight guys did make the opening day roster for the Phils, it would leave the pitching staff with four open slots (assuming the team starts the year with 12 pitchers).

Of those four spots, one should go to a long man, or at least someone who could pitch more than one inning, and at least one other would go to a lefty.

The Phillies have a lot of options when it comes to the second lefty in the pen. Horst and Valdes were both very good in 2012 and I think it’s possible they both make the team to start the year. If it’s just one of them, I’d give Horst an advantage over Valdes. I think Horst is pretty close to a lock to start the year with the team.

I think the issue of who will be the long man out of the pen is more complicated. Kendrick is the guy best-suited for that role, but the Phillies would likely prefer to have him pitch out of the rotation, coming off of a 2012 in which he threw to a 2.43 ERA over his last ten starts. Cloyd, Ethan Martin or Jonathan Pettibone seem like the candidates to make the team that are mostly likely to be able to give the Phillies more than one inning, but I have a little trouble seeing the Phillies carrying one of them to pitch out of the pen to start the year. My guess at this point would be that the Phillies don’t have a true long man out of the pen to start the year.

So if Horst takes one of the four open spots, that leaves the Phils with three.

The guy I feel next strongest about is Aumont, given the combination of his upside and some promising results in 2012. I’ll slot him into the tenth spot.

I think it’s really wide open after that. At this point I’ll take Valdes, based on his impressive 2012, for the eleventh slot. Beyond that I see it as close to a toss-up between Stutes and De Fratus as front-runners for the final spot. Stutes is coming off of a significant injury that sidelined him for much of 2012 and both should contribute to the team this year. Stutes helped the Phils a lot in 2011 and De Fratus has had several very impressive years in the minors in a row.

I’ll pick De Fratus for the twelfth spot.

So that gives the Phils 12 pitchers — Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Kendrick, Lannan, Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Horst, Aumont, Valdes and De Fratus. Five starters, seven relievers. Three lefties out of the pen and no long man in relief.

If that’s the staff heading into 2013, I expect we’ll all feel a whole lot more comfortable with the pitching than we do with the hitting to start the year.

This article from the Phillies web site adds Michael Cuddyer to the list of players the Phils might be pursuing that includes Hairston, Wells and Soriano.

This article suggests that if the outfield situation stays the same, we may see Brown getting a chance to be the everyday guy in right field to start the year with a platoon in left that includes some combination of the lefty Nix and righties Ruf and Mayberry. Mayberry seems like he should be a candidate to get some at-bats at first base against left-handed pitching as well.

There are a bunch of problems in left if that proves to be the case. One is that it’s hugely unlikely that Laynce Nix is going to be able to take all or maybe even most of the at-bats against righties in left field in 2013. Nix is 32 and has never gotten more than 400 plate appearances in a season. Phillie left fielders are going to get around 480 plate appearances against right-handed pitching in 2013. Nix has never had more than 321 plate appearances against righties in a season. So it seems likely that some parts of that platoon would be hitting a lot against righties. I don’t think you want to see a whole lot more of Mayberry hitting against righties given his 229/291/335 line against them in 2012. We’ll see on Ruf. He was 5-for-17 against righties last year with a home run.

The other important problem with Nix as the left-handed part of a platoon in left is that Nix, despite his left-handedness, isn’t exactly a fabulous hitter against right-handed pitching anyway. His career line against righties is 253/297/447. Last year he got just 117 plate appearances against righties, but put up a 248/316/390 line. So Nix probably couldn’t completely man a left-handed platoon in left anyway and if he could, you might not want him to.


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.


So at least somebody in town has a running game

Last week’s posts were about things the Phillies used to be great at, outfield defense and outfield offense, and suddenly aren’t. Today’s is about base running — something the Phillies have been great at in recent history, but were just pretty good at in 2012.

Here’s the base running total (runs above average) for the Phillies over the past six years as calculated by FanGraphs and how it compares to the other MLB teams (base running includes stolen bases and caught stealing, while UBR does not):

Year Base running MLB Rank
2007 16.0 1
2008 17.8 1
2009 11.6 5
2010 4.4 10
2011 -1.4 15
2012 4.5 11

So the Phils were best in baseball at the statistic in 2007 and 2008. They had dropped to the middle of the pack in 2011, but came back a little to eleventh across both leagues in 2012.

In 2007, across all players in both leagues, the Phillies had two players in the top 20 in base running. Rollins was second at 11.2 and Victorino was 18th at 6.9.

In 2008, they led the league again in the category with two guys in the top ten. Rollins was third at 10.5 and Victorino ninth at 8.4.

Victorino isn’t on the team anymore, but Jimmy Rollins can’t shoulder much of the blame for the Phillies’s drop from their spot as the best team in baseball in the category. In 2012, Rollins’s 8.3 base running runs above average was second best among all players in baseball, behind only Mike Trout of the Angels.

Juan Pierre appears to be headed to the Marlins on a one-year, $1.6 million deal.

Darin Ruf homered yesterday, giving him ten home runs in 120 at-bats in Venezuela. This article suggests he probably won’t hit ten more to tie the league record, cause he’s headed back to the US later this week and probably won’t return to the league for the second half.

This suggests that BJ Upton, who has already visited the Phillies and Braves, will also visit at least three other teams, which may include the Nationals and Giants. Rotoworld suggests Upton is likely to get about five years and $75 million. If he gets it from the Phillies, let’s hope he proves to be a whole lot better than Shane Victorino, who seems likely to get a lot less than five years, $75 million.


Whoa boy

The last post suggested that the outfield defense for the Phillies has gotten really bad over the last three years, at least as measured by FanGraph’s UZR/150. Offensively, the Phillies have been really good in the outfield compared to the rest of baseball in recent years, at least until 2012, when things took a hard turn in the wrong direction. Here’s the wOBA for Phillie outfielders over the last eight years as calculated by FanGraphs as well as the rank of that mark among teams across both leagues:

Year wOBA MLB Rank
2005 .366 1
2006 .353 T-4
2007 .371 1
2008 .343 12
2009 .359 3
2010 .352 5
2011 .342 5
2012 .320 T-18

So, coming into 2012, in six of the last seven seasons, Phillie outfielders had combined to be in the top five among all MLB teams in wOBA. This year they finished in a three-way tie for 18th with the Cubs and Padres.

The Phillies led the league in wOBA for outfielders in 2005 and again in 2007. Abreu led the way in ’05, posting a wOBA of .379 over 719 plate appearances. Burrell was also very good offensively at .384 over his 669 plate appearances. Jason Michaels (.362 over 343) and Kenny Lofton (.359 over 406) were each surpisingly effective offensively that year. Burrell led the way in ’07, putting up a FanGraphs calculated wOBA of .392 in 684 plate appearances. Rowand was fantastic that year as well — .384 over 598 plate appearances. Werth got just 302 plate appearances with the Phillies, but put up an impressive .382 wOBA mark with the team.

Since 2007, the Phillies haven’t led all of baseball in the category. They had been in the top five of MLB teams in three of the past four years coming in to 2012.

In 2012, Hunter Pence was the only outfielder for the Phillies to get at least 50 plate appearances and put up a wOBA better than .320. Here’s how the outfielders looked from top to bottom for 2012 wOBA:

Player PA wOBA
Pence 440 .340
Pierre 439 .320
Nix 127 .317
Victorino 431 .317
Brown 212 .309
Schierholtz 73 .306
Mayberry 479 .303

Mayberry has to take a lot of the blame for dragging down the wOBA for the group in 2012. His wOBA of .303 was 137th of 171 players across both leagues with at least 450 plate appearances and way off of his 2011 pace of .368. In 183 more plate appearances than he had in ’11, Mayberry homered one less time.

Domonic Brown didn’t fare much better at .309. He did get a lot less chances to do much damage, though, with just 212 plate appearances. He wound up with numbers a little bit worse than his 2011 stats, in just about the same number of at-bats (210 plate appearances in 2011 and 212 in 2012). He’s hitting .196 against lefties for his career, which is going to be a problem if the Phillies want to play him every day.

Like Mayberry, Victorino got a ton of plate appearances for the Phillies and was pretty bad with the bat, putting up a wOBA of .317, which was a huge drop from his .368 mark in 2011 and well below career mark of .338. Between 2008 and 2011, Vicotorino was above .350 in three different seasons. Mayberry and Victorino posted the same .368 wOBA in 2011 and both were awful offensively for the Phillies in 2012.

Pierre’s .320 was his second-best mark since the end of his 2004 season with the Marlins. He ended the year just above his career mark of .317. In his 13-year career, he’s posted an OPS+ better than 100 just twice. 2012 with the Phillies wasn’t one of those times as he finished at 95. He didn’t get a lot of chances against lefties, just 69 plate appearances for the year, but the ones he got didn’t go very well as he went 12-for-63 (.190) with 12 singles and one walk.

Pence’s .340 was off his career mark of .352 and he ended the year overall at .323 after hitting .219 for the Giants in 248 plate appearances. .323 was the worst wOBA of his career.

So. The Phillies were bad. They had five outfielders get at least 200 plate appearances in 2012 and three of them (Victorino, Pence, Pierre) are gone. Of the other two, one, Mayberry, was terrible last year offensively and the other, Brown, has been bad offensively for two years straight. Ruf is certainly a big unknown with upside in terms of what he can do offensively, but the other two guys, lefties Nix and Schierholtz, aren’t. Schierholtz’s career wOBA of .315 isn’t likely to lead the Phillies much of anywhere and I’m not sure you want to put that many eggs in Nix’s career .307 basket either.

This suggests Torii Hunter has reached a two-year, $26 million agreement with the Tigers.

Ken Rosenthal tweets the Phillies met with BJ Upton earlier this week. Upton visited Atlanta yesterday and can’t wait to see how this all pans out.


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