For 2013, Baseball-Reference calculates the combined WAR for Phillie hitters at 3.7.
I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.
What? We have to do more?
There were 32 individual NL hitters last year with a bWAR better than 3.7. As you probably guessed, things aren’t exactly headed in the right direction for the Phils in this area — the team was first in bWAR for batters in 2009 after being second in ’08. They slipped to fifth in 2010 and have been in the bottom half of the league ever since. They were 14th in 2013, ahead of only the Marlins.
Here are the eight non-pitchers on the ’13 Phillies who have both a WAR calculated by Baseball-Reference that’s greater than zero and a WAR calculated by FanGraphs that’s greater than zero:
|Player||bWAR (NL Rank)||fWAR (NL Rank)|
|Utley||3.5 (36)||3.9 (28)|
|Brown||2.5 (52)||1.6 (83)|
|Ruiz||1.7 (78)||1.4 (91)|
|Revere||0.8 (114)||0.9 (108)|
|Howard||0.6 (127)||0.4 (143)|
|Rollins||0.2 (170)||1.6 (85)|
|Quintero||0.2 (180)||0.4 (151)|
|Rupp||0.2 (181)||0.1 (199)|
That’s not good. Using the FanGraphs data, for example, Domonic Brown has the second-best fWAR on the team at 1.6, which was 83rd best in the league.
Baseball-Reference’s guide on interpreting WAR suggests 5+ for an All-Star, 2+ for a starter, 0-2 for a reserve and less than zero replacement level. The Phillies had two hitters with a bWAR higher than two in 2013 and five of the eight players listed above have a bWAR less than one.
Humberto Quintero is a good bet not to be on the Phillies in 2014. Carlos Ruiz is a free agent that could be back, but I wouldn’t count on it. Ruiz not being back is a blow to the Phils — less because he was good last year and more because, by WAR calculated by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, he was the third or fourth-best non-pitcher on the Phillies last season despite on-basing .320 with five home runs
Utley was clearly the best non-pitcher on the Phillies in 2013. He’s had a bWAR that’s ranged from 3.0 to 3.7 over the last three years and seems like a good bet to be in that range again in 2014. The problem is that he was the best non-pitcher on the Phils in 2013 and was about the 28th or 36th best non-pitcher in the 15-team league. That and there’s a pretty monster drop off behind him.
Again, Utley’s bWAR was 3.5. The total bWAR for all the hitters on the team was 3.7. Milwaukee was seventh in the NL in bWAR for hitters at 20.6 last year and the Padres were eighth at 20.3. So to get to about middle of the pack in the NL last year, the Phllies would have needed to add about 16.7 or so bWAR from their hitters, which is about 4.8 players with the 3.5 bWAR of their best hitter. Obviously it’s more complicated than that, because they couldn’t just add players without taking away some that contributed to their 3.7 bWAR in the first place, but the point is they’re a long way away from being in the middle of the pack in the NL.
Brown impressed with the bat in 2013, but he sure can’t play defense. Posted a positive bWAR for the first time in his career, but fWAR was a lot less impressed. Still, he seems like a good bet to get better and is one of a very few blocks the Phillies have to build on.
Rollins put up a bWAR of 0.2, the worst mark for any year in his career in which he’s gotten at least 100 plate appearances. Coming into the season, his bWAR range for the four previous seasons had been 1.7 to 2.5. If he bounces back, it might not be that high. His -1.0 dWAR was the worst mark for his career. FanGraphs had his UZR/150 at short at -2.7 coming off of positive marks for ten years in a row.
Revere is still young, still never going to walk and never hit for power. The Phillies will need him to be an elite defensive player if he’s going to be good and I’m not sure why you’d think that would happen. He wasn’t in 2013, posting the worst dWAR of his career at -0.4 despite less playing time than he had in the last two years. His UZR/150 in center as calculated by FanGraphs was negative for the second straight year as well. He did hit a monster 407/426/482 in his last 123 plate appearances before injury ended his season. I think he’ll probably be okay on the WAR fronts if he can keep that up. Even assuming he doesn’t, I don’t see center field as one of the biggest areas of concern for the Phillies, where they have a good chance to have a very cheap player who will make a positive contribution. If you want to worry, I’d go with right field, first base and catcher in that order. And cross your fingers about Cody Asche at third base.
Howard on-based .319 in 2013 and his isolated power (.199) dropped under .200 for the first time in his career. Over the last two years his average bWAR is -0.25 and his average fWAR is -0.35. Over his last four years his average bWAR is 0.48 and his average fWAR is 0.45.
The Phillies are due to pay Utley, Rollins and Howard a combined $51 million in 2014 and there’s a real chance only one of the three will put up a bWAR better than one. The trio made $46 million in 2013 with Utley the only player of the group with a bWAR better than 0.6. Per the table above, FanGraphs thought Rollins was a lot better than Baseball-Reference.
Cameron Rupp makes a surprise appearance on the list. Let’s hope for the best, but there are going to be some surprised folks out there if he proves to be more than a backup catcher. He also has 14 career plate appearances. Presumably the Phillies will add a catcher before the season starts, which will prevent them from going into the season with Kratz and Rupp handling the catching duties and, presumably, will mean Rupp starts the year somewhere other than on the active roster.