Tag: juan pierre

All I’m trying to find out is the fellow’s name on first base

So, if Ryan Howard is on the DL and Jim Thome can’t play first, who should be playing first base for the Phillies? In a recent post I suggested that Ty Wigginton’s career numbers make him look like a good candidate to fill in against lefties, but not against righties. I also suggested that when the other team starts a righty with Howard and Thome unavailable to play first, it looks like between left field and first base there’s an opportunity for the Phils to start two players from the group of Wigginton, Laynce Nix, John Mayberry, Domonic Brown and maybe Juan Pierre.

So, of those five, who are the best choices offensively to play at first and in left?

Remembering that in 2011, the average NL first baseman hit 270/350/451 with an wOBA of .346, here are the numbers against righties for those five players as well as what each of them did against right-handed pitching in 2011:

Wigginton career 3238 261 313 437 329
Wigginton 2011 319 235 292 413 310
Mayberry career 205 236 317 445 325
Mayberry 2011 176 250 330 455 334
Brown career 230 239 322 408 324
Brown 2011 174 237 328 401 326
Nix career 1584 253 296 451 320
Nix 2011 320 263 306 475 341
Pierre career 5549 293 339 369 313
Pierre 2011 536 264 296 325 276

The first thing is that none of those numbers are real good. Remembering that the average NL first baseman put up a wOBA of .346 in 2011, nearly all of the numbers on the table above don’t even come close to that — the lone exception is Laynce Nix’s effort against righties from last year in which he put up a wOBA of .341 despite on-basing .306.

Just for giggles, here’s the numbers for Thome and Howard, lefties that really can hit righties and have played first in their careers (although in the interest of full disclosure, Thome hasn’t seen significant time at first since 2005 and likely won’t in 2012, either):

Howard career 2948 298 397 623 416
Howard 2011 459 266 370 550 383
Thome career 7256 293 428 612 432
Thome 2011 233 257 352 470 353

So it’s safe to say that Howard and Thome have been better against righties over their careers than the five guys in the first table.

Back to our five guys. If you put them in order by career wOBA against righties, the list looks like this:

  1. Wigginton, .329
  2. Mayberry, .325
  3. Brown, .324
  4. Nix, .320
  5. Pierre, .313

Again, it’s bad news that Ty Wigginton tops that list cause he’s a career 261/313/437 hitter against righties. You really don’t want a guy who’s a career 261/313/437 hitter against righties playing first base for you against them. If you order them by what they did in 2011, the list looks like this:

  1. Nix, .341
  2. Mayberry, .334
  3. Brown, .326
  4. Wigginton, .310
  5. Pierre, .276

Sure looks like the answer is not Pierre, but beyond that it gets a little confusing. Part of what makes it confusing is that Mayberry and Brown have so few plate appearances — they each have less than 250 plate appearances against righties for their career while Nix and Wigginton both have at least 1,500. Beyond that, Wigginton’s career numbers against righties are a little better than Nix’s, but Nix’s numbers over the last few seasons top Wigginton’s. Tune in next time.

This article about the Phillies rotation and guys to watch reminds that Austin Hyatt, who will be in Spring Training as an NRI, struck out 171 batters in 154 1/3 innings for Reading last season while throwing to a 3.85 ERA over 28 starts.

Been safe stealing

Nothing like adding Juan Pierre to your team to get you thinking about stolen bases.

In 2011, Pierre stole 27 bases for the White Sox and was caught 17 times. So he was safe in about 61.4% of his steal attempts and out in about 38.6% of them. Between both leagues in 2011 there were 50 players who stole 20 or more bases last year. Of those 50, his 38.6% caught rate was the worst and nobody else was above 33.3%. Three players, Willie Bloomquist, Melkey Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez, stole 20 bases and were caught ten times, giving them a caught percentage of 33.3%.

Pierre has traditionally been a better base-stealer than that. His 61.4% safe rate in 2011 is the worst for his career since 2000 when he stole seven bases and was caught six times. For his career, his safe rate is about 74.5%. He was better than that as recently as 2010, when he stole 68 bases and was caught just 18 times for a safe rate of 79.1%. It was best in 2007. That year he stole 64 bases for the Dodgers and was caught just 15 times, for a safe rate of 81.0%. That’s the only time in his career he’s topped 80%.

One thing to love about Charlie Manuel as a manager is that his teams don’t get caught stealing. In each of his seven years at the helms of the Phils, the team has had a safe rate of at least 78.6%.

Over the last 20 years, the Phillies have had four different managers. Here’s the number of bases they’ve stolen each year and the number of times they’ve been caught.

Year SB CS Safe Manager

One thing the table above shows is that the base-stealing for the Phils has gotten a bit less prolific over the past few years. In 2011, for the fourth straight year, the Phillies stole fewer bases than they had in the previous season. In three of those four years, their safe rate went down from the previous year.

Over the last 20 years, the best year for the Phils with the stolen base was 2007 when they stole 138 and were caught just 19 times. The worst was 1997 when Francona’s Phils were safe just 62.2% of the time as they stole 92 bags while being caught 56 times. It may have been a little hard to notice just what was going on on the bases that year, what with all the going 68-94 and whatnot.

If you total up the steals and caught stealings for those 20 years by manager, here’s what they look like:

Manager Years SB CS Safe
Manuel 7 805 169 82.6%
Bowa 4 429 146 74.6%
Francona 4 416 166 71.5%
Fregosi 5 474 153 75.6%

Charlie Manuel has managed the Phillies for seven years. In 2006, the team’s safe rate on steal attempts of 78.6% was fourth best in the NL. In each of the other six seasons, the Phils have had the best safe rate in the league.

So getting thrown out 40% of the time or so might not go over well. Just saying.

This article reviews where some of the 2011 Phils who won’t be with the team in 2012 are now.

This article looks at the top 20 prospects for the Phillies as ranked by MLB.com. Here’s Baseball America’s top ten list for the team.

Interested in online betting sites? Visit our sponsor The Sports Geek at http://www.thesportsgeek.com/sportsbooks/

The Juan left behind?

So what do you do if you’re a professional baseball team, you have John Mayberry and Domonic Brown in your organization, just bid farewell to Raul Ibanez and his .707 OPS over 575 plate appearances from last year and are looking to get better in left field in 2012? I don’t know for sure, but I have some ideas and I’m a little surprised that bringing on Juan Pierre made the list for the Phillies.

After hitting 279/329/327 in 711 plate appearances for the White Sox last year, Pierre has hit 277/335/322 in 1,445 plate appearances over the last two seasons. In 2011, he stole 27 bases, which tied him for 21st-best in all of baseball. He was caught 17 times, which was more than any other player. There were only four players in either league who were caught stealing more than 12 times. In his defense, Pierre was a far more effective base-stealer with the White Sox in 2010. The active career leader in stolen bases swiped an AL-best 68 bases and was caught just 18 times.

Despite on-basing .329 last year, Pierre still has a career on-base percentage of .345. And if he can get on base, that would go a long way towards making up for the gaping lack of power and diminishing speed. But in six of the last seven years he’s on-based under .345. From 2000 to 2004, he on-based .361. Since the end of 2004 he’s on-based .334. And that makes things tough for an outfielder without power who hasn’t appeared in a game at center field since 2009.

Pierre has never hit for a lot of power. He arrived on the scene with Colorado in 2000 and had two extra-base hits in 219 plate appearances, both doubles. He hit .310 that year and slugged .320, giving him and isolated power of .010. No player with 200 plate appearances in either league has posted an isolated power that low since. His isolated power topped out in 2006 with the Cubs at .096 as he hit 292/330/388 with 32 doubles, 13 triples and three home runs over 750 plate appearances.

Over the last two seasons, Pierre has hit .277 and slugged .322, giving him an isolated power of .045. In 2011, among the 146 players in either league with 500 plate appearances, his isolated power of .049 was 146th. In 2010 his isolated power of .041 was 149 of 151 as he topped infielders Cesar Izturis and Elvis Andrus in the category.

Pierre’s isolated power for his career is .067, and he’s hit that mark or better just once in the last five seasons (.084 with the Dodgers in 2009). By comparison, Wilson Valdez has a career isolated power of .087 and an isolated power of .097 while with the Phillies. Martinez’s isolated power last year was .086. Polanco’s for his career is .105, last year it was .062.

Here’s what Mayberry, Ibanez, Pierre and the average NL left fielder did in 2011:

John Mayberry 296 273 341 513 361
NL AVG LF 259 328 421 327
Raul Ibanez 575 245 289 419 309
Juan Pierre 711 279 329 327 295

The NL average for left fielders in 2011 for wOBA was .327. Pierre’s career wOBA is .315. Over the past five seasons, he’s posted a wOBA of .327 or better just once — in 2009 in his 425 plate appearances with the Dodgers. Pierre put up a wOBA in the .293 to .298 range in each of the other four seasons.

The Phillies signed 33-year-old right-handed reliever Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract. Qualls was great from 2004-2008 and pretty good in 2009 before a miserable 2010 season in which he threw to a 7.32 ERA and allowed 85 hits and 21 walks in 59 innings. Last year he bounced back some, if not to his ’04-’08 levels, throwing to a 3.51 ERA with a 1.25 ratio for the Padres.

This article points out some of the recent issues involved with trying to use Chad Qualls against lefties or if you’re not playing at Petco.

Locks for the pen at this point look to me to include Kendrick, Papelbon, Qualls, Willis and Bastardo. Contreras seems likely to take the sixth of seven spots if he’s healthy. Stutes seems close to a sure thing and Herndon would be my first guess to take Conteras’s spot if Contreras can’t go.

If you’re interested in baseball handicapping, check out our sponsor Kevin’s MLB picks blog at http://www.mlbpredictions.org.

Who’s right and who’s left

In early December, the Phillies signed lefty slugger Laynce Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million deal. Less than two weeks later, they traded right-handed corner outfielder Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays for a left-handed reliever that’s unlikely to have a significant impact with the team at the major league level. Francisco then avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal with Toronto worth about $1.5 million.

Nix’s role with the Phillies looks likely to be as the left-handed part of a platoon in left with John Mayberry — especially early in the season when Howard’s absence at first should open up some opportunities for Mayberry to play there.

Nix offers power against right-handed pitching, he’s pounded out 48 doubles and 35 home runs against righties in 817 plate appearances over the last three season, but it will come with a low average and not enough walks. And he can’t play at all against lefties. He comes into 2012 with just 216 plate appearances against lefties for his career and a 181/235/271 line against them. The bigger concern about Nix, though, is not what he does against his bad side (lefites), but that he has a career .296 on-base percentage on his good side (against righties).

Question for today is whether Ben Francisco or Laynce Nix is a better choice offensively against right-handed pitchers, given that there’s no question that the righty Francisco is better than the lefty Nix against lefties.

I think the answer for today is no. Nix is probably better against right-handed pitching offensively than Francisco. But it’s close and I think it’s close enough to make you wonder if Francisco’s huge advantages against left-handed pitching make him the more valuable offensive player overall.

Nix was clearly better than Francisco against righties in 2012. Here’s what each of them did for the year:

Nix 320 263 306 475 341
Francisco 167 243 345 393 322

Both Nix and Francisco walked 19 times against right-handed pitching in 2011. Francisco got his walks in 167 plate appearances while Nix got his in 320. Francisco walked nearly twice as often, drawing walks in about 11.4% of his plate appearances against righties while Nix walked in about 5.9% of his.

Nix was more likely to get a hit (24.4% of his PA vs righties compared to 20.4% for Francisco).

They hit doubles at almost the same rate. 4.2% of PA for Francisco and 4.1% for Nix. Nix was more than twice as likely to hit a home run, knocking out 16 in his 320 plate appearances (5.0%) while Francisco hit four in 167 (2.4%).

Almost inarguably, Nix was better against right-handed pitching in 2011.

2011 was the worst year of Francisco’s career, though. It’s a different story if you look at their career numbers against righties.

Nix 1584 253 296 451 320
Francisco 1034 259 326 433 333

Francisco still walks more if you look at their career numbers (7.4% to 5.6%) and is still more likely to double in a given plate appearance (6.4% to 5.6%).

The gap in how likely they each are to get a hit narrows, but Nix still comes out ahead. 23.5% for Nix and 23.1% for Francisco. Nix is still way more likely to hit the ball out of the yard, homering in about 3.9% of his plate appearances against righties compared to about 2.9% for Francisco.

Over their careers, Francisco has been at least as good against righties. But not over the last three seasons.

Nix’s career to this point can be looked at in three three-year blocks — three years with Texas where he was pretty bad, three years where he didn’t play much and the last three years, when he’s been a lot better offensively than he was early in his career.

From 2002-2005 he was pretty awful, hitting 247/285/426 over 835 plate appearances in those three years combined. He played his last game of the ’05 with the Rangers in July of that year and had shoulder surgery. From 2006 to 2008 he hardly played at all in the majors, getting just 95 plate appearances between the Brewers and Rangers combined. He spent 2009 and 2010 with the Reds, hitting 257/311/468 over 519 plate appearances in those two years combined, before hitting 250/299/451 over 351 plate appearances for the Nats last year.

Here’s the wOBA each of them has posted against righties for the past three seasons:

2011 2010 2009
Nix 341 335* 336
Francisco 322* 287* 349

Nix tops Francisco in two of the three years, but with Francisco posting the best mark against righties in 2009 at .349. I put asterisks next to the three seasons where the player got less than 170 plate appearances against righties for the season. In the non-asterisk seasons, Nix or Francisco got between 300 and 350 plate appearances against righties that year.

This article says that Amaro doesn’t expect Howard back for Opening Day and would be happy if he’s back in May, that Polanco should be close to 100% for Spring Training, that the Phils will be cautious with how they handle Utley and his knees during Spring Training and that Contreras should be ready near Opening Day.

The Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a minor league deal. The linked article suggests Pierre is an option for the Phils in left. That would be an exceptionally poor idea. Happily, in the same article, Amaro suggests the bulk of the time in left will go to Mayberry and Nix and mentions Brown as being in the mix as well.

The Phils have avoided arbitration with Hunter Pence as Pence has agreed to a one-year, $10.4 million deal.

Pat Burrell is retiring.

The list of guys who might hit fourth for the Phils while Howard is sidelined is apparently long.

West obsessed

Still a few games left to play, but it looks almost just about sure the Phillies will be playing the Rockies of the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs. Here’s how the offenses for the three teams compare for the year, since the All-Star break and for the month that just ended:

Team G R R/G
COL 158 788 4.99
LA 159 767 4.82
PHI 158 805 5.09

Second Half
COL 70 346 4.94
LA 71 324 4.56
PHI 72 345 4.79

COL 27 134 4.96
LA 27 132 4.89
PHI 30 140 4.67

The Rockies have been a little better than the Dodgers offensively.

Ignoring the Phillies offense thinking only about which offense the Phils’ pitchers would fare best against, I still like the Phillies chances against the Rockies a little better than the Dodgers given the Phils seem sure to start lefties Lee and Hamels in the first two games of a short set.

Here’s what the Rockies and Dodgers have done against lefties this season — their average, on-base percentage and slugging against them as a team as well as their rate of getting hits, walks, doubles and triples and hitting home runs per 100 plate appearances:
























The Rockies did hit for a little more power against lefties this season, but the Dodgers got hits and walks at a higher rate. LA’s .358 on-base percentage against lefties is particularly impressive.

Here are the Rockies hitters that have at least 50 plate appearances this year with an OPS of .850 or better against lefties:





Iannetta 299 407 597 1.004
Tulowitzki 268 379 530 .909
Fowler 326 379 492 .872
Smith 259 368 500 .868
Gonzalez 294 356 510 .866

Iannetta hasn’t played nearly as much as Torrealba recently. Smith is a left-handed batter who has only had about 18% of his plate appearances against lefties this season. Fowler and Gonzalez can’t both play center field at the same time — Fowler has appeared only as a center fielder this season while Gonzalez has appeared at all three outfield positions, but mostly center and left.

Tulowitzki is just great.

Lefty Brad Hawpe plays right field just about all the time and has hit 252/348/453 against left-handed pitching this year.

Here’s how the list for the Dodgers looks:





Kemp 365 431 620 1.052
Blake 317 441 564 1.005
Ramirez 274 384 521 .904
Hudson 295 363 496 .859

Kemp, Blake and Ramirez are all terrors against lefties. Blake has been out with a sore hamstring, but he should be back this weekend.

Furcal and Pierre have both also been good against lefties this season, but don’t quite have their OPS against them up to .850. Furcal is hitting 298/363/454 against them and Pierre 316/412/398.

Loney and Martin both did a great job of getting on base against lefties this year, but with little power. Loney on-based .373 against them and Martin .411.

On the plus side, Andre Ethier had a fantastic year in which he hit 31 home runs and drove in 105 but was terrible against lefties. In 186 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season he hit 189/280/341.

Jamie Moyer is out for the season. That is very disappointing — both because it would have been nice to see him help the team in the post-season and because there was a very good chance he was going to be able to given how well he had been pitching. Moyer looking up from his knees, badly injured, to see if Victorino had caught the ball in center wasn’t really the last memory of his season I was hoping for. It is, however, a good reminder of what he has given this team. After a terrible first two months this year he had thrown to a 4.06 ERA with a 1.22 ratio over his last 108 2/3 innings.

This article says that Myers was available last night, that Park will be back “very quickly” and seems to suggest that Myers may be on the post-season roster.

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