A two-run homer from Steve Holm I can live with, but intentionally walking Omar Vizquel three times in a game is a little bit tougher. That’s just indefensible for a lot of reasons, but the big ones are that he’s 41-years-old and on-based .305 and slugged .316 last season.

And yes, I do remember that after each of the three intentional walks to Vizquel in Sunday’s game the pitcher struck out the next Giant to end the inning. It’s not that kind of a thing.

Indefensible or not, there’s got to be something going on. Turns out it might be that what part of it is is that the Phils are getting shelled by eight hitters this season. Here’s what guys in the eight hole have done against the Phillies so far:


AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
309 405 434 839

If that looks bad, well, it is. The .839 OPS that opponents eight hitters have posted against Phillies hurlers is the worst in the NL. By a lot. Not including yesterday’s game, Colorado had been second-worst against eight hitters using OPS as a measure. They had posted a .775 OPS against them.

Overall for the season, opponents have hit 264/333/422 against the Phils, a .756 OPS — eight hitters have been significantly better than other hitters in the lineup.

The .309 batting average eight hitters have posted against Phils’ hurlers is the worst in the league. The Phillies have struck out opponents eight hitters 17 times this season, also (tied for) the worst in the league. The Reds have struck out the eight hitter the most times — again, not counting yesterday’s games, 43. The Phils have walked the eight hitter intentionally six times, the most in the NL.

Put it all together and you’ve turned the molehill of the eight-spot into a mountain. Here’s what Phillies’ pitchers have done overall against hitters in each of the non-pitchers spot in the order so far this season, and their rank compared to the other NL teams using OPS as the measure (still doesn’t include yesterday’s games. Really, nothing in this post includes anything from yesterday’s games):


# in order

OPS against

NL Rank
1 .829 14
2 .675 5
3 .913 12
4 .882 9
5 .806 7
6 .749 9
7 .745 9
8 .839 16

Using OPS as the measure, not only have the Phillies been the worst team in the NL against eight hitters, but #8 hitters in the order have been more effective against them than leadoff men, #2, #5, #6 and #7 hitters.

Eight NL teams, that’s half, have thrown to a lower OPS against their opponents #3 hitters than the Phillies have to their opponents’ #8 hitters (ie, eight NL teams have thrown to an OPS lower than .839 against #3 hitters).

In 2007, eight hitters hit 285/366/374 against the Phillies pitchers. That was bad, 11th worst in the NL, but not quite as bad as the Phils were overall. Overall in 2007 the Phils’ pitchers threw to the 13th-best OPS in the league.

In 2007 the Phils still walked the eight hitter a lot. The 68 walks to the eight hitter were third most in the league (overall the Phils were tied for allowing the eighth-most). They intentionally walked the eight hitter 17 times. Only two teams intentionally walked the eight hitter more than that, Colorado and Arizona both walked the eight hitter 18 times in ’07.

All these huge numbers for eight hitters this year must at least one someone and probably more on the Phillies’ pitching staff is getting bombed by guys in the eight hole. And someones are. Among the guys in the rotation, eight hitters are 7-for-19 with a double and three walks against Myers (368/455/421 with an .876 OPS). That’s bad, but Kendrick and Moyer have been even worse. Eight hitters are 5-for-15 with two doubles, a home run and two walks against Kendrick (333/444/667, 1.111 OPS). 7-for-16 with four doubles, a triple and two walks against Moyer (438/500/813, 1.313 OPS).

Some of that is surely just bad luck that will even out along the way. The thing the Phillies can definitely control is how often they pitch around the eight hitter and how often they walk him intentionally. I’d go with a lot less. It’s just one that doesn’t need to be over-thought. There’s a reason that the guy is hitting eighth and the chances are pretty good that it’s there are seven guys in the lineup that can hit better than he can. Try to get him out.