The Phillies didn’t allow a lot of home runs last year — only five NL teams gave up fewer than the 160 they surrendered. They did give up a lot of home runs on the first pitch, though, only three NL teams gave up more. The percentage of the home runs that they did allow that came on the first pitch of plate appearances was also high compared to the rest of the league.
For the 16 NL teams, the chart below shows how many batters they faced last year, how many homers they allowed and how many of the those plate appearances and home runs took just one pitch:
The Phillies had the second-highest percentage of the home runs they allowed last year come on the first pitch, behind only the Cubs.
With the exception of the Braves, who had 11.0% of their plate appearances end in one pitch in 2008 but gave up just 10.9% of their homers on the first pitch, every NL gave up a higher percentage of their homers for the year on the first pitch than percentage of plate appearances that ended on the first pitch.
Of the 16 teams, only the Cubs and the Giants had a bigger difference between the percentage of home runs they allowed on the first pitch and the percentage of their plate appearances that ended on the first pitch than the Phillies.
By sheer numbers of home runs given up on the first pitch, the Cubs and Astros were the two teams that allowed more than the Phillies. They each surrendered 39 compared to 35 for the Phillies.
There’s a wide range between how frequently the teams allowed home runs on the year. The Braves allowed a home run on the first pitch least frequently — they faced 6,244 hitters and allowed 17 first pitch home runs. That’s one per 367.3 plate appearances. The Astros allowed them at the highest rate — 39 first pitch home runs surrendered to 6,125 batters or one per 157.1 batters. The Phillies rate of one per 178 plate appearances was third worst in the league behind Houston and Chicago (158.8).
I still don’t think any of this answers the question of whether or not this is a problem. The best pitch in baseball is strike one, as they say, and throwing strike one means throwing the ball over the plate one the first pitch. It’s easy to prevent first pitch home runs if you want — just never throw the ball near the plate. I think it could be the case that the benefit gained by consistently throwing strike one is more significant that negative consequences of giving up more first pitch home runs. Later this week a post will look at how often the Phils got ahead in the count on the first pitch instead of behind compared to the rest of the league.
The Phillies have played three games since the last post. They lost two and played the Cardinals to a tie on Friday, putting their spring record at 8-12.
Not a big couple of days for the bats. The Phils scored three runs in the three games.
Today the Red Sox beat them 3-0.
Myers got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and five walks over five innings. Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer off of him in the first to account for both runs he allowed. Durbin kept his spring ERA at 0.00 with a scoreless seventh.
Mayberry was 1-for-4 and left five men on base. He’s hitting .279 in spring training. Cairo was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .268. Ozuna is hitting .364 after a 1-for-3 day. Paulino down to .174 after an 0-for-1. Donald drew a walk but didn’t have an official at-bat in the game. He’s hitting .314.
On Saturday, Kendrick finally had a good outing but the Phils lost to the Twins 2-1.
Kendrick went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Just one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double by Michael Cuddyer. Condrey followed with two scoreless innings to drop his spring ERA to 1.23.
Chan Ho Park was expected to start the game, but did not due to the problems with his strained left hamstring. This says he will start Tuesday against Toronto.
Bruntlett hit a home run with two outs in the ninth for the Phillies’ only run. Cairo was 0-for-3 with a walk. Mayberry 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
Friday the Phillies tied the Cardinals 2-2 in ten innings.
Carrasco got the start and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Both runs came on a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel in the third. Koplove threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing a single and a walk, keeping his ERA at 0.00. Durbin allowed two walks over 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
Paulino was 0-for-2 and struck out twice. Giles, Mayberry and Donald were all 0-for-1.
The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow.
Jimmy Rollins is in the lineup as the DH tonight as the Phils play Japan in the World Baseball Classic. The winner of the game will play Korea in the finals. Korea beat Venezuela 10-2 to advance to the finals.
Philliesflow now has a Twitter page.