Tag: Hunter Pence

Chase Utley, you are the walking man

In posts from last week I looked at the differences in the number of walks the Phillies drew in 2007, when they were the best team in the NL at drawing walks, and 2012, when their walk rate was 15th in the league.

In those posts I suggested there were four positions where the Phillies walked about the same number of times in 2007 as they had in 2012 — second base, right field, DH/pinch-hitter and pitcher.

At second base, Chase Utley’s walk rate of 11.9% in 2012 was higher than his walk rate of 8.2% in 2007. The problem was that Utley only got about 53.3% of the plate appearances at second in 2012. Galvis, Fontenot, Martinez and Orr combined to get the rest with Galvis getting about three times more than any of the other three. Galvis walked in just 2.8% of his 178 plate appearances as a second baseman for the Phils in 2012.

Like Jimmy Rollins, Utley has increased his walk rate in recent years.

Years PA BB%
2003-2008 3126 8.7
2009-2012 2014 11.6

The best year in recent history for the Phillies in terms of walks from their second basemen was 2009. Utley got about 94.1% of the PA for second basemen that year and walked in a career-high 12.8% of his chances. The team wound up at 12.4% at the position.

I can’t find a whole ton interesting about the walk rate of the pitchers or pinch-hitters/DHs. Phillies third baseman walked in a miserable 4.7% of their plate appearances in 2012, so it did seem worthwhile to check and make sure they walked more often than the pitchers. They did — the pitchers walked in 3.8% of their PA combined. In three of the last eight years, though, the pitchers for the Phils posted a walk rate near or above 4.7% for the season — they walked in 5.9% of their PA in 2006, 4.9% in 2008 and 4.6% in 2009.

That leaves us with the right fielders. In 2007 the right fielders for the Phillies walked in 9.0% of their plate appearances, which is just about the same as the 8.9% they walked in 2012. It’s been kind of a wild ride in between, though. Here are the walk rates for Phillies right fielders as a group over the last six seasons:

Year BB%
2012 8.9
2011 11.3
2010 11.4
2009 13.1
2008 9.4
2007 9.0

So, in 2012, the Phils RF wound up in about the same place they had been in 2007, but they had been up a lot higher than that in the years in-between.

In ’07, the Phillies got 743 PA in right. Of those, 482 (64.9%) went to Victorino and he walked in about 6.6% of them. Werth was the other major contributor — he walked in about 14.8% of his 223 plate appearances as a RF (about 30% of the team’s PA at the position).

Werth got the bulk of the PA from ’08 to ’10 as the walk rate at the position climbed. Werth walked in about 12.7% of his walks in those years combined.

In 2011, Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown and Hunter Pence all got around a third of the team’s PA in right field. All three walked a lot — Pence and Francisco each walked in about 11.1% of their chances and Brown walked in about 12.2% of his while playing right.

In 2012, Pence got about 64% of the Phillie plate appearances in right and walked in about 8.4% of them. Brown brought the number for the team up a little, getting about 22% of the PA in right and walking in about 11.3% of those chances.


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.


Sprechen sie ut oh?

There are several different ways to calculate WAR, but no matter which language you choose, the non-pitchers for the Phillies were cause for concern in 2012.

The table below shows the WAR by position for the Phillies over the past five seasons as calculated by FanGraphs. Next to each WAR is the NL Rank for the team that year at the position.

Please note: WAR as calculated by FanGraphs differs, often dramatically, from WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference. The WAR values in the table below are from FanGraphs, but the WAR values discussed below the table come primarily from Baseball-Reference. Links to recent interesting articles on the differences between WAR as calculated by the two sites are at the bottom of the post.

Position ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
C 7.1 (2) 2.6 (9) 5.3 (3) 3.3 (3) 2.2 (10)
SS 4.9 (2) 3.9 (4) 2.3 (10) 3.2 (6) 5.7 (4)
2B 3.7 (4) 3.4 (3) 6.7 (2) 7.5 (1) 8.2 (1)
CF 2.7 (10) 8.4 (2) 3.9 (12) 4.3 (8) 4.4 (7)
LF 2.8 (11) 1.2 (15) 2.4 (10) 4.6 (5) 2.8 (10)
3B 2.4 (11) 2.5 (10) 3.3 (7) 1.5 (11) 2.6 (11)
RF 1.2 (15) 2.2 (14) 6.2 (3) 5.9 (1) 5.7 (4)
1B -0.8 (16) 1.1 (13) 2.0 (10) 4.7 (5) 3.0 (7)

So there were three of the eight positions at which the Phillies were better than tenth in the 16-team National League.

Four seasons ago, in 2009, the Phillies were in the top half of the league at every position other than third base.

First the good:

At catcher, the Buster Posey-led Giants are the only team to put up a better overall WAR than the Phillies in 2012. The Phillies have been in the top three at the position in three of the last four years. In 2011, Ruiz recorded his worst dWAR of the five seasons (as calculated by Baseball-Reference) at 0.8. It was also his worst offensive season of the past three as he slugged just .383. In 2008, Ruiz was terrible offensively, hitting .219 in his 373 plate appearances as the Phils were tenth in the league at WAR at the position.

The Phils were also second in the league at FanGraphs-calculated WAR at short in 2012, topped only by the Nationals. There’s really only been one bad year for the team at the position over the last five seasons. In 2010, Rollins got less than 400 plate appearances for the only time in the last 12 seasons. Wilson Valdez fared okay trying to pick up the slack, but Juan Castro was a lot less impressive as he on-based .250 in his 101 plate appearances as a shortstop for the year. FanGraphs calculated WAR for Rollins for 2012 is much higher than Baseball-Reference’s. FanGraphs has him at 4.9, which ties him for 27th among non-pitchers across both leagues. Baseball-Reference calculates his WAR at 2.3, which ties him for 106th. The chart above reflects the FanGraph numbers, which suggest he was an elite player in 2012. Again, this is one of the three positions at which the Phillies were non-terrible in 2012 and there is disagreement about how good their primary player at the position actually was.

At second base, the Phillies have been in the top four for each of the past five years. Utley’s WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference topped out at 8.8 in 2008. He’s likely never going back up there again, but his work at the position has been enough to keep the Phils in the top quarter of the NL over the last several years. Also, as a side note — in 2008, Utley and his 8.8 WAR (second-best in baseball) finished 14th in NL MVP voting. Howard’s WAR that year was 1.5 and he finished second. Pujols won it, and should have, but Utley should have been a lot higher than 14th.

After catcher, second and short, things get real ugly, real fast.

Center field was the next best position for the Phils in 2012 and they were tenth in the league there. Victorino was a monster in 2011, putting up a (Baseball-Reference) overall WAR of 5.2 in the best year of his career. He was way off that pace in 2012, though, and Mayberry was pretty bad after he left. The Phillies seem to have no in-house solution to what is now a big problem in center field.

Eleventh in left. Tenth or worse for the third straight year. 2009 is the only year of the last five that the Phillies have been non-terrible overall at the position. In ’09, Ibanez put up the best WAR (Baseball-Reference) of his last six seasons at 2.7. It was the only year of the last six where his dWAR has been better than -1 (it was -0.8). In 2010 he was bad for the Phillies and in 2011 he was terrible — a dWAR of -3.1 and an oWAR of just 0.1. Juan Pierre was the guy who got most of the time in left in 2012, the first year after Ibanez left. His overall WAR for the year was 1.9, good enough for fourth-best on the team among the non-pitchers, but not enough to lead the Phils anywhere better than eleventh.

They were also eleventh at third base, the fourth year of the last five in which they have been tenth or worse. Polanco was very solid in 2010, putting up a (Baseball-Reference) WAR of 3.1. In 2011, his dWAR stayed about the same as 2010 (1.2 in ’11, 1.4 in ’10), but his oWAR dropped from 1.9 to 0.7 as he hit 277/335/339 with just 19 extra-base hits in 523 plate appearances. Polanco got significant time at third in ’12, putting up an oWAR of 0, a dWAR of 0.4 and losing significant time to Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen’s WAR of 1.5 (in just 210 plate appearances) was good enough for fifth-best among the team’s non-pitchers, but not good enough to get the Phillies any higher than eleventh relative to the rest of the NL for the season at the position. Feliz got most of the time at third in ’08 and ’09, with some help from Greg Dobbs. Neither did a whole lot and the Phillies were eleventh at the position both years, although Feliz had a good year defensively in ’09, putting up a dWAR of 1.2. Feliz on-based .306 over 1,088 plate appearances for the Phils between 2008 and ’09.

You don’t have to study the right field numbers too carefully to see that the Phillies have struggled to replace Jayson Werth. Led by Werth, the Phils topped the NL in WAR at the position in 2009 and were third in 2010. He signed with the Nationals for the 2011 season and the numbers took a dive. Francisco got the gig to start ’11 and bombed in spectacular fashion, putting up an oWAR of 0.0 and a dWAR of -1.3 and losing the job. Hunter Pence played part of ’11 with the Phils and part of ’12. He posted negative dWARs in both years with better luck offensively. 2.2 (oWAR)/-0.3 (dWAR) in 2011 and 1.2/-1.1 in 2012. Domonic Brown hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence yet he can get the job done in right, either. So far for his career he has an UZR/150 of -21.7 in 871 innings in right to go with his overall batting line of 236/315/388.

First base may be the single biggest problem for the Phillies, where they have committed an enormous amount of money to Ryan Howard. They were 16th of 16 in the NL in 2012 and FanGraphs has them no better than tenth over the last three seasons. Howard was hurt in 2012, but he got 644 plate appearances in 2011 and 620 in 2010 and the Phils didn’t do better than tenth in either year. He has always been terrible at defense, over the last seven seasons his dWARs have ranged from -1 to -2.8, and thanks largely to that he has put an overall WAR better than three just twice in his career. In 2006 he hit 58 home runs with a WAR of 5.0. In 2009 he hit 45 with a WAR of 3.5. In 2012, his oWAR joined his dWAR in negative territory at -0.6. Wigginton was also miserable trying to pick up the slack at the position with Howard missing much of the season, hitting just 235/314/375 for the year with a UZR/150 at first of -8.5 (which is 30th among the 36 players across both leagues who played at least 450 innings at first in 2012).

This article talks about differences in the calculation of WAR by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. More on that subject here, as Jimmy Rollins appears on a list of the players whose WAR as calculated by FanGraphs differs dramatically from their WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference.


Phils holding out hope WAR really is good for absolutely nothing

The Phillies had 25 non-pitchers who appeared for them in 2012.

The table below shows, for each of the 25, their plate appearances and WAR, oWAR and dWAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference and their wOBA and UZR/150 as calculated by FanGraphs (Baseball-Reference reminds that oWAR plus dWAR does not equal WAR).

PA WAR oWAR wOBA dWAR UZR/150
Carlos Ruiz 421 4.4 4 .398 1 C: no rating at 856 1/3 innings
Chase Utley 362 2.9 2 .347 1.1 2B: 11.4 in 720 1/3 innings
Jimmy Rollins 699 2.3 3.1 .328 0 SS: 4.9 in 1364 innings
Juan Pierre 439 1.9 1.6 .332 -0.1 LF: -0.4 in 799 2/3 innings
Kevin Frandsen 210 1.5 1.3 .358 0.3 3B: 0.3 in 442 2/3 innings
Erik Kratz 157 1.4 0.7 .337 0.9 C: no rating in 343 1/3 innings
Shane Victorino 431 1.3 1.5 .325 0 CF: 0.9 in 883 2/3 innings
Hunter Pence 440 0.7 1.2 .339 -1.1 RF: -13.5 in 901 2/3 innings
Freddy Galvis 200 0.6 -0.4 .266 1.1 2B: 11.3 in 416 innings
John Mayberry 479 0.5 0.2 .302 -0.1 CF: -20.7 in 474 1/3 innings; LF: 5.4 in 330 innings
Jim Thome 71 0.4 0.3 .362 0 1B: -.1 in 27 innings
Placido Polanco 328 0.3 0 .278 0.4 3B: 8.1 in 664 2/3 innings
Darin Ruf 37 0.3 0.3 .426 0 LF: -4.9 in 46 innings; 1B: 36.7 in 26 innings
Laynce Nix 127 0.1 0 .316 -0.2 1B: -17.7 in 72 1/3 inn; LF: 45.3 in 67; CF: -52.8 in 23; RF: 13.7 in 64
Mike Fontenot 105 0.1 0 .293 0.2 2B: .7 in 132 innings; 3B: 3.9 in 77 innings
Pete Orr 57 0.1 0.1 .336 0 3B: 52.7 in 14 innings; 2B: -17.6 in 70 1/3 innings
Jason Pridie 10 0.1 0.1 .418 0 CF: 39.0 in 9 innings
Brian Schneider 98 0 0.1 .282 0.1 C: No rating in 228 2/3 innings
Hector Luna 66 0 -0.1 .275 0.1 1B: 25.4 in 70 1/3 innings; 3B: -32.9 in 7 innings
Nate Schierholtz 73 -0.1 0 .305 -0.2 CF: -67.8 in 44 innings; RF: 17.3 in 122 1/3 innings
Steven Lerud 10 -0.1 -0.1 .176 0 C: No rating in 23 innings
Michael Martinez 122 -0.2 -0.8 .196 0.6 2B: -29.6 in 121; 3B: 22.7 in 70 1/3; SS: 37.0 in 51; OF: 100.1 in 51
Domonic Brown 212 -1 -0.4 .307 -0.9 RF: -8.9 in 308 LF: -5.8 in 141 2/3
innings
Ryan Howard 292 -1.2 -0.6 .301 -1 1B: -15.6 in 589 2/3 innings
Ty Wigginton 360 -1.7 -0.5 .301 -1.7 1B: -8.5 in 471 1/3 innings; 3B: -39.3 in 175 2/3; LF: -46.8 in 48 innings

By WAR, Erik Kratz was the sixth-best non-pitcher on the team for the Phillies in 2012. That there is a problem, cause he’s a 32-year-old backup catcher who got 157 plate appearances for the year.

The Phillies had three hitters with a WAR for the year of 2.0 or better. In 2011 they had five (Victorino 5.2, Utley 3.7, Ruiz 2.6, Rollins 2.4 and Pence 2.2). Pence’s 2.2 came despite getting just 236 plate appearances with the team.

Finally, the -1.2 WAR for Howard is a little problematic. Over the last three seasons, the Phillies have paid Howard about $59 million to put up WARs of 1.1 (’10), 0.9 (’11) and -1.2 (’12). He has hit 256/339/483 in 1,556 plate appearances over those three seasons.

I guess we can always hold out hope that WAR is hugely flawed and doesn’t mean anything. Fingers crossed.


The doctor is in and the Phillies are indefatigable in LA

The Phillies got Roy Halladay back last night, but it was Hunter Pence and the bullpen that stole the show as the Phils topped LA 3-2 for their fourth straight win.

A Jimmy Rollins double in the game’s first at-bat helped get the Phils an early 1-0 lead. Halladay gave up a pair of runs in the second and left after five innings with the Phils still down 2-1. The pen didn’t budge after he left, though, and Hunter Pence delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth to put the Phillies on top to stay.

Five relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings after Halladay left the game. The bullpen came into the game having thrown to a 7.00 ERA over its last 15 games and a 5.33 ERA over its last 77 games.

The Phillies are 41-51 on the year after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 last night. They have won four in a row and remain in last place in the NL East, 13 games behind the first place Nats. They have allowed four runs in their last two games, winning two one-run games in a row despite scoring three runs in each of the two games.

Halladay got the start for the Phils and went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.

Up 1-0, Halladay threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, but it took 18 pitches. Six to get unlikely leadoff hitter Bobby Abreu looking, five more to get Mark Ellis looking and seven to get Matt Kemp to fly to left.

Andre Ethier singled to right to start the second and moved to third on a double by Adam Kennedy. James Loney was next and the lefty lined a single into left field, scoring Ethier to tie the game at 1-1 and moving Kennedy up to third. Luis Cruz followed that with a single into center. Kennedy scored and LA led 2-1 with men on first and second and nobody out. AJ Ellis was next and lined to Utley for the first out with Utley throwing to first to double off Cruz. With pitcher Stephen Fife at the plate for his first career plate appearance, a wild pitch by Halladay allowed Loney to take third before Halladay got Fife looking to leave him stranded.

Another long inning for Halladay. Twenty pitches in the frame had him at 38 for the game after just two innings. The Dodgers hit him well in the frame. Three singles and a double. He struck out the pitcher in the first plate appearance of his career for one of them and got another on a bad base-running play by Cruz. The Ellis line drive was a soft liner — Cruz was way too far off of base and was doubled off easily.

Ellis singled with one out in the second, but Kemp grounded into a double-play behind him.

Kemp is a good guy to get out if you want to beat the Dodgers. So far in the series he’s 1-for-8 with a single and has grounded into two double-plays in the series.

Just ten pitches in the frame for Halladay.

He struck out Ethier and Kennedy in a 1-2-3 fourth.

With two outs in the fifth, the pitcher Fife hit a ball that Halladay handled, but Halladay’s throw to first was bad and Fife was safe on the error. Abreu grounded to first to leave Fife stranded.

Fife’s ball was chopped to the third base side of the mound. Halladay didn’t handle it cleanly then picked it up and threw in the dirt to first.

Schwimer started the sixth. He got the righties Ellis and Kemp for the first two outs. The lefty Horst came in to pitch to the lefty Ethier and hit him with a pitch. Kennedy flew to right for the third out.

I think there’s a lot to like there in a one-run game. Schwimer gets Kemp out. Then Manuel brings in the lefty to pitch to Ethier.

First outing for Schwimer after being charged with three runs while getting two outs against the Rockies. Horst was pitching for the first time since July 8. He has allowed one hit and two walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his six appearances with the Phillies this year. Manuel doesn’t seem so impressed — see his first appearance since July 8.

Kendrick pitched the seventh. Ellis singled with two outs, but Kendrick got Gwynn to pop to Polanco to set LA down.

The bullpen needs all the help they can get and that’s a huge inning from Kendrick. Kendrick to the bullpen isn’t enough to fix what’s wrong, but it’s a start.

Kendrick was back to start the eighth with the Phils up 3-2. He got the first two hitters before Kemp singled to right. Bastardo came in to pitch to the lefty Ethier and struck him out looking 3-2 to leave Kemp stranded.

Again, great job by the pen. Righties on righties and a big strikeout for Bastardo against the lefty Ethier.

Fantastic job out of the pen for Kendrick in the game. He got five huge outs in a one-run game and allowed two singles. Between one start and two reliefs appearances, he’s throw ten scoreless innings in July with an 0.70 ratio. He has a 6.23 ERA as a reliever this year with most of the ugly coming on May 9 against the Mets when he was charged with five runs in an inning. He has a 1.17 ERA as a reliever over 7 2/3 innings in his other six appearances.

Bastardo struck out the only batter he faced in the game. 5.10 ERA for the year and 8.22 ERA over his last 16 appearances since the end of May. Four lefties in the pen (Horst, Diekman, Savery and Bastardo) and Bastardo is still the guy facing lefties in a one-run game in the eighth.

With the Phils still up a run, Papelbon set the Dodgers down in order in the ninth. Righty Juan Rivera hit for pitcher Kenley Jansen and struck out looking 1-2 to end the game.

Papelbon was pitching for the second day in a row. He’s struck out six in 4 2/3 scoreless innings over his last four appearances.

Just a fantastic game for the bullpen. Halladay leaves after five and the relievers combine to throw four shutout innings in which they allow two singles and don’t walk a batter.

The Phillies lineup against righty Stephen Fife, making his major league debut, went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Ruiz (6) Pence (7) Pierre (8) Polanco. Polanco again against the righty with Fontenot on base. Pierre in left.

Rollins doubled to right to start the game and Victorino bunted him to third with the first out. Utley grounded to first for the second out with Rollins scoring to put the Phillies up 1-0. Howard grounded to Ellis for the third out.

Phils manufacture a run with a double, a bunt and a ground out to give them the early lead. I’d rather see Victorino try to get a hit, but if they were looking for one run they sure got it.

Pence walked with one out in the second and moved up to second when Pierre followed with a single to right. Polanco flew to right for the second out and Halladay grounded to second to leave both runners stranded.

Nothing for the Phils after putting two men on with one out.

Down 2-1, the Phillies went in order on three ground outs in the third.

Howard walked to start the fourth and took second on a wild pitch by Fife, but was left there when Ruiz and Pence both grounded out and Pierre flew to right.

Polanco singled softly to right to start the fifth and Halladay bunted him to second with the first out. Rollins struck out swinging and Victorino grounded out to leave him there.

Howard walked with one out in the sixth and again took second on a wild pitch with Ruiz at the plate. Ruiz flew to second for the second out. Pence was next and he singled into center, a little to the left field side of Kemp. Howard tried to score from second, but he’s really slow. Kemp’s throw was a little up the third base side of the plate and the play at the plate was very close, but Ellis dove back to apply the tag Howard was called out for the third out.

Very close play at the plate. Looked safe to me at the time. Howard is still very slow either way. Should be able to score on a single to center with two outs.

That was it for Fife in the game. He held the Phillies to a run on four hits and three walks over six innings.

Righty Josh Lindbloom set the Phillies down in order in the seventh. Pridie hit for with two outs and flew to center.

Pridie is 3-for-8 on the year and 1-for-4 as a pinch-hitter.

Righty Ronald Belisario started the eighth with the Dodgers still up a run. He came into the game with a 1.67 ERA and an 0.90 ratio for the year. He was pitching for the second straight day after needing just 11 pitches to strike out Ruiz, Pence and Mayberry in a 1-2-3 ninth in the first game of the set. Rollins and Victorino went down on a pair of ground balls to start the inning before Utley walked on four pitches. Belisario hit Howard in the foot 1-2 to put runners on first and second. Mayberry ran for Howard at first. Belisario hit Ruiz 3-2 to load the bases for Pence and righty Kenley Jansen came on to pitch to Pence. Pence hit a ball up the middle for a single. Utley and Mayberry both scored, putting the Phils up 3-2. Kemp threw Ruiz out going to third for the third out.

Pinch-running for Howard turns out to be a great idea. Second outfield assist of the game for Kemp. The Dodgers leave Belisario in to face the lefties Utley and Howard with two outs and neither of them on. He doesn’t get either of them out and both of them end up scoring (Howard in the person of Mayberry). Scott Elbert is the lefty in the pen for LA. He had thrown 21 pitches in game one of the set.

Ruiz was hit by a pitch for the 14th time this season in the inning. There’s only one player in either league other than Ruiz who has been hit by a pitch more than nine times this season — Josh Willingham has been hit 11 times for the Twins.

Jansen set the Phillies down in order in the ninth. Wigginton hit for Bastardo and flew to left for the third out.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout in the game. He’s 7-for-his-last-19 with five extra-base hits.

Victorino 0-for-3. He bunted Rollins over to third with the first out of the second inning, which allowed Rollins to score on Utley’s ground out. 6-for-his-last-15. Still hitting just 228/289/322 against right-handed pitching for the season.

Utley 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 6-for-his-last-36 with one walk. 7-for-34 against righties (.207).

Howard 0-for-1 with two walks and a hit by pitch. 3-for-21 at the plate (.138) with a .308 on-base percentage.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch. He’s hitting .349 for the year and on-basing .411. All the hit by pitches (14) are helping to hide the fact that he’s not drawing nearly as many walks this year as he has in previous seasons. He’s only got 17 walks for the year — he’s walked just three more times than he’s been hit by pitch. With zero hit by pitches instead of 14, he’d been hitting .349 and on-basing .383 instead of hitting .349 and on-basing .411. He has .062 points of on-base percentage — .034 from walks and .028 from being hit by pitches. From 2009-2011, he hit .281 for the Phils and on-based .376. Of those .095 points of on-base percentage, about .010 came from being hit by pitches 20 times in 1,284 plate appearances and about .083 came from walking 150 times in those PA.

Pence 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. He came into the game 1-for-his-last-18.

Pierre 1-for-4 with a strikeout. 343/382/424 against right-handed pitchers for the season. 171/190/171 (7-for-41 with seven singles) against lefties.

Polanco 1-for-4 with a single. 4-for-his-last-36 (.111) with a walk and four singles.

Lee (1-6, 3.92) faces lefty Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 2.84) this afternoon. The Phillies have lost six of the last seven games that Lee has started and are 4-11 in his starts for the year. Both of his starts in July have been good — he’s 1-1 with a 2.57 for the month. Kershaw has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts. He’s allowed one home run in 32 1/3 innings over his last five outings.


Playoff intensity not delivering much but playoff results so far for the Phils

The problem for the Phillies isn’t that they fail to grasp the seriousness of their situation or elevate their level of play. The problem is that they do and that they have and they keep losing anyway. The Phils have battled for just about every at-bat over the last handful of games, but Rays and the Pirates haven’t seemed that impressed. After losing 5-4 yesterday afternoon, the Phils are 2-4 over their last six games.

They’ve still got plenty of time to get it going, but they didn’t start yesterday. Kendrick had a hide-your-eyes ugly first inning that saw the Pirates score five runs by the time they sent their seventh batter of the game to the plate. The pitching was great after that, Kendrick tossed six scoreless frames and new additions Sanches and Horst combined to throw two more, but the Phils couldn’t quite climb all the way back as their rally fell a run short.

So somebody needs to get in there an kick the flux capacitor or something. Cause right now all I can picture is a rather exasperated-looking Charlie Manuel firing off an “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!” and the only response to this point has been a diverse group of opposing players hitting the ball all manner of hard and far against an equally diverse group of Phillie pitchers.

The Phillies are 36-42 on the year after losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 yesterday afternoon. The teams split the four-game series. The Phils are in fifth place in the NL East, nine games behind the first place Nationals.

Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks. Two of the hits went for first inning home runs, a three-run blast and a solo shot.

Kendrick has a 7.67 ERA over his last five starts. Opponents have hit .294 against him and he’s allowed five home runs and 15 walks over 27 innings.

Drew Sutton was the first batter of the game and reached on an infield single on a ball deflected by Kendrick. Neil Walker followed that with a walk, putting runners on first and second for Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen flew to right for the first out with Sutton tagging and moving up to third. With men on the corners, Garrett Jones singled to right, scoring Sutton to put the Pirates up 1-0 with men on first and second for Casey McGehee. McGehee hit a 1-2 pitch from Kendrick out to left-center. 4-0. Alvarez was next and homered to right. 5-0. Kendrick struck out Clint Barmes for the second out and got Michael McKenry on a fly ball to left for the third.

Kendrick got the first two batters to start the second before Walker singled to left. McCutchen went down swinging to leave Walker stranded.

He set the Pirates down in order in the third, fourth and the fifth.

He walked McGehee with one out in the sixth, but got Alvarez and Barmes behind him.

McKenry reached on an infield single to start the seventh. Burnett tried to bunt him to second, but Kratz fielded, threw to second for the first out and Rollins went to Fontenot at first to complete the double-play. Kendrick walked Sutton and Alex Presley ran for Sutton at first. Kendrick got Walker to line to left to leave Presley at first.

Very nice play by Kratz to pounce on the ball and throw to second to start the double-play.

Sanches started the eighth. Jones doubled off the railing in right with one out on a play that was still a double after being reviewed. McGehee was next and flew to center for the second out with Jones moving up to third. Sanches walked the lefty Alvarez intentionally to put runners on first and third for Barmes. Sanches got Barmes swinging 3-2 to leave both men stranded.

Fourth appearance for Sanches with the Phillies this season and the first time he hasn’t been charged with at least one run.

It was 5-4 when Horst started the ninth, making his debut with the Phillies. He walked McKenry on five pitches to start the frame. Tabata bunted McKenry to second with the first out. Alex Presley was next and Horst walked him, too, putting runners on first and second. Horst got Walker on a foul ball handled by Wigginton for the second out. McCutchen was next and Horst struck him out swinging 1-2 to leave both men stranded.

Horst facing the righty McCutchen with two men on doesn’t make you feel real comfortable, but the lefty got it done that time. He has thrown to a 2.11 ERA at Triple-A this year, but with a 1.59 ratio. In 38 1/3 innings he’s allowed 43 hits and walked 18.

Sanches and Horst get the job done in the game, throwing two scoreless innings as they allow a hit and two walks. Horst threw 24 pitches and Sanches 22.

The Phillies lineup against righty AJ Burnett went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Victorino (4) Pence (5) Polanco (6) Wigginton (7) Fontenot (8) Kratz. Pierre in left against the righty with Wigginton at first. Kratz makes his first start of the year catching the day game after a night game. Polanco hits fifth, which is terrible given that he has slugged .375 over his last 2,054 plate appearances coming into the game. Fontenot at second with Utley resting.

Down 5-0, Victorino singled with two outs and took second on an error by Jones in right. Pence grounded to the pitcher to end the inning.

Wigginton singled to center with one out in the second. Fontenot was next and flew to center for the second out, but was next and hit an 0-2 pitch out to center, getting the Phils on the board at 5-2. Kendrick grounded to second for the third out.

Second home run in five at-bats for Kratz on the year.

Pierre singled with one out in the third and stole second. Pierre took third on a ground out, but was left stranded when Burnett struck Pence out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

The Phils went in order in the fourth and again in the fifth.

Victorino and Pence singled back-to-back with one out in the sixth, putting runners on the corners for Polanco. Polanco hit a ground ball to third. Alvarez went to second for the first out, but Polanco beat the relay to first as Victorino scored to make it 5-3. Wigginton walked on four pitches, putting men on first and second for Fontenot. Fontenot took ball one way high and then grounded to first to end the inning.

Kinda looked like Burnett had lost the strike zone there a little.

Kratz struck out to start the seventh. Utley hit for Kendrick and struck out for the second before Rollins walked. Righty Juan Cruz came in to pitch to Pierre and walked him, putting two men on for Victorino. Victorino flew to left for the third out.

Pence started the eighth and lined a 1-1 pitch just out to left off of righty Jason Grilli. 5-4. Polanco was hit by a pitch. Wigginton got ahead 3-1, but struck out swinging for the first out. Fontenot followed and singled on a ball knocked down but not handled by Grilli. It put runners on first and second for Kratz and Thome hit for him. He hammered the first pitch he saw out by foul and then struck out swinging 0-2 for the second out. Ruiz hit for Sanches and fouled out to McGehee as the first baseman went into the stands to make a great catch and end the inning.

Rollins singled off of righty Joel Hanrahan to start the ninth. Pierre bunted him to second with the first out and Victorino struck out swinging for the second. It brought Pence to the plate with two down and Rollins on second. Before Hanrahan threw a pitch to Pence, Rollins stole third, but Pence flew to McCutchen in shallow center to end the game.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base in the game. 5-for-16 with three walks, a double a triple and a home run in the series. 339/385/645 over his last 130 plate appearances. 268/322/419 for the year. He’s hitting .323 at home and .215 on the road.

Pierre 1-for-3 with a walk and another stolen base, which gives him 18 on the year. He’s been caught just three times. 2-for-11 with a walk in the series. 254/299/365 over his last 69 plate appearances and 315/355/380 for the year.

Victorino 2-for-5 with a strikeout and four men left on base. 5-for-15 in the series with two walks and five singles. 253/324/390 for the year. Doesn’t seem like a great choice to hit third against a righty given his 231/300/319 line against them for the season.

Pence 2-for-5 with a home run. 6-for-17 with two walks, a double, a triple and a home run in the series. He came into the series slugging .329 over his last 90 plate appearances without a home run. 277/345/476 for the season.

Polanco 0-for-3 with an RBI thanks to nice hustle to beat out his double-play ball. 4-for-10 with two walks and four singles in the set. 278/324/363. Polanco hitting fifth against a right-handed pitcher is a pretty good sign there are some issues with your lineup.

Wigginton 1-for-3 with a walk. 3-for-12 with two walks and a home run in the set. 250/317/398 for the year. Playing way too much against righties. 185/228/315 over his last 57 plate appearances. It’s him, Mayberry or Luna at first so far and they’re all right-handed. Mayberry’s hitting 212/246/470 in June. Luna is 1-for-his-last-11 with five strikeouts. If Nix is back in a few weeks, that will help. Till then I really think they should consider giving the lefty Fontenot a try at first against some righties.

Kratz was great. 1-for-3 with a two-run homer and made a great play to start a double-play on the bunt in the seventh. 2-for-7 on the year with two home runs.

Ruiz was 0-for-1 in the game and 8-for-14 with two home runs in the series. 362/429/588 for the year. He’s obviously getting a ton more hits in 2012 than he has over his career, but also hitting for way more power, especially against right-handed pitching. For his career, his isolated power against righties is .133. So far in 2012, his isolated power against righties is .242 (for lefties it is .183 this year compared to .155 for his career).

Cliff Lee (0-4, 3.72) faces righty Josh Johnson (4-5, 3.96) tonight in Florida. Lee has a 5.10 ERA over his last seven starts and the Phillies are 3-9 in his outings for the year. Johnson threw to a 6.61 ERA in his first six starts on the season. Since then he’s made nine starts, throwing to a 2.56 ERA and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those outings.


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