Tag: Laynce Nix


Last week I pointed out that Phillie relievers walked a ton of hitters in 2011. While the average NL bullpen saw their pitchers walk about 9.5% of the batters they faced and about 3.64 per nine innings, the Phils’s pen walked 10.5% of the batters they faced and 3.99 per nine innings.

Here’s how the numbers break down for guys who faced batters in relief for the Phils in 2011:

Juan Perez 
Justin De Fratus 
Mike Zagurski 
Vance Worley 
J.C. Romero 
Brad Lidge 
Jose Contreras 
Antonio Bastardo 
Michael Schwimer 
Michael Stutes 
Scott Mathieson 
David Herndon 
Kyle Kendrick 
Andrew Carpenter 
Danys Baez 
Ryan Madson 
Joe Blanton 
Cole Hamels 
Joe Savery 
Wilson Valdez 
Team Total 
3 1/3
6 2/3
16 1/3
19 1/3
14 1/3
31 2/3
9 1/3
60 2/3
2 2/3
412 1/3

They are sorted by percentage of batters faced that were walked. Everyone from Kyle Kendrick and above both walked more than 9.5% of the batters they faced and walked more than 3.64 batters per nine innings.

There were four guys in the bullpen for the Phillies last year who threw more than 36 innings in relief. Stutes, Madson, Bastardo and Herndon combined to 237 innings out of the pen. That’s 57.5% of the total innings that relievers for the Phils threw for the year.

Of those four, Stutes, Herndon and Bastardo were all above the league average in terms of walks for both the percentage of hitters that they walked and their walks per nine innings. Madson was the only guy of the group who was under in either category — he was well under in both, but his ability to prevent walks doesn’t look like it’s going to help the team much in 2012.

Papelbon was great at preventing walks in 2011, walking just 10 of the 255 batters he faced. That’s 3.92% of batters and 1.40 per nine innings, both of which are better than Madson’s numbers. In 2009 and 2010 combined, though, his walk rate was much higher. In those two years combined, Papelbon walked 3.46 hitters per nine and about 9.1% of the hitters he faced.

The Phillies are 5-5 in Spring Training action after beating the Pirates 4-1 yesterday afternoon.

Worley was the story of the game. He started for the Phillies and was outstanding, striking out eight in four perfect innings. Pat Misch followed Worley and he was very good, too, retiring five in a row before walking Eric Fryer to give the Pirates their first base-runner of the game with two outs in the sixth inning. Herndon was next and he allowed an unearned run on a single, a stolen base and an error by Martinez at short. Bastardo and Schwimer followed Herndon and each threw a scoreless inning.

Herndon, Bastrado and Schwimer haven’t been charged with an earned run yet in official Spring Training action.

Hector Luna and Jimmy Rollins both homered for the Phils, the first of Spring Training for Rollins and the second for Luna.

Scott Podsednik started in right for the Phillies and went 1-for-3, dropping his average to .350 (7-for-20). Brown was 1-for-1 with an RBI-triple. Pierre 1-for-3 with a single to up his average to .278 (5-for-18 with five singles). Tyson Gillies went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .158 (3-for-19 with a double).

The Phils face the Astros this afternoon with Cole Hamels and Dave Bush expected to pitch.

Jim Thome played four innings of first base in a minor league game yesterday. Sounds kinda like it wasn’t a problem except for when someone hit the ball near him.

Contreras also played in a minor league game yesterday, getting five outs and throwing 21 pitches.

The same article linked above says that Nix left Monday’s game after just one at-bat because he didn’t feel good. Nix suffered a bruise to his left rib cage in a collision at the plate in Sunday’s game against the Tigers.

Doing less with more

In the past several posts I have pointed out that the Phillies starting pitchers, and Halladay, Hamels and Lee in particular, were exceptional at preventing walks in 2011.

As you know, their exceptionalness made for some nice walk numbers for the Phillie starting pitchers last year. In 2011, Phillie starting pitchers faced more batters than any other National League team. They also walked fewer batters than any NL team.

Team Batters Faced Walks % BB

After the Phillies, the Cardinals were the team whose starting pitchers faced the next highest number of hitters. They faced 266 fewer hitters than the starting pitchers for the Phillies. The Nats were the team whose starters threw the second-fewest number of walks — they walked 45 more than the Phils.

The average NL team saw their starters walk about 7.5% of the batters they faced. Phillies started walked about 5.1% of them. By percentage of batters faced that walked, the Diamondbacks were the second-best rotation at preventing walks — Arizona started faced 104 fewer batters in 2011 and walked 55 more.

The Astros hammered the Phillies 10-3 yesterday, dropping the Phils to 2-3 in Spring Training.

Worley started for the Phils and allowed two runs in two innings on five hits and a walk. Pat Misch was next. He threw a scoreless third before allowing four runs in the fourth, three of which were unearned because of a two-out throwing error by Frandsen at third. Papelbon allowed a triple and a walk in the fifth, but kept the Astros off the board. Willis was next and he got hit hard for his second time in two tries, charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while getting just two outs. Rosenberg, Qualls and Stutes finished it out, combining to throw 3 1/3 shutout innings.

Nice to see Qualls and Stutes both put up some zeroes after each were hit hard in their first official Spring Training appearance.

Willis says he’s sore and tired in this article. Rich Dubee also says the Phils won’t carry two left-handed relievers for the sake of having more than one lefty in the pen. In two outings so far, Willis has allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings on five hits and three walks (that’s a 27.00 ERA and a 4.80 ratio — opponents have hit .500 against him).

The Phillies had five hits in the game. Podsednik doubled in his only at-bat of the day, his third double already, and is 4-for-8 so far. Lou Montanez was 1-for-2 with a double. Hector Luna homered yet again — 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in official action with another homer in unofficial action against FSU.

Frandsen started at third and went 0-for-4 with an error. 1-for-12 with nightmareish defense so far. Nix is still looking for his first hit — he’s 0-for-9 after going 0-for-3 yesterday.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon with Hamels and Bush expected to pitch.

Harold Garcia, he of the 40-man roster, had surgery on his right knee and will miss four to six months.

Thome will play first base in a minor league game on Monday. The same article says that Laynce Nix had “been bothered with a sore muscle near his left groin.”

And if Mayberry can just keep pace wtih Matt Downs, the Phils might be in business

In a previous post I pointed out that there are not many players over the last two seasons who have walked, gotten hits and especially hit home runs at the rate that John Mayberry has with the Phillies over the past two seasons. Another thing that Mayberry has done with the Phillies over the past two seasons is have a large percentage of his hits go for extra-bases while hitting for a relatively high average.

In 2010 and 2011 combined, Mayberry has gotten 309 plate appearances with the Phillies in which he has hit .276 (77-for-279). Of his 77 hits, 17 are doubles, one is a triple and he has hit 17 home runs. About 45.45% of his hits over the past two years have gone for extra-bases.

How many players in either league in 2011 meet all three of these criteria: Got 200 plate appearances, hit at least .276 and had 45.45% or more of the hits they did get go for extra-bases? Two.

PA AVG % of hits XBH
Mike Napoli 432 .320 46.6
Matt Downs 222 .276 50.9

And in 2010? Four.

PA AVG % of hits XBH
Jayson Werth 652 .296 45.7
Miguel Cabrera 648 .322 46.7
Jim Thome 340 .283 55.1
Jim Edmonds 272 .276 50.0

Again, like in the previous post, it’s the high percentage of extra-base hits that make this group so tough to get into.

2011 2010
% of players with 200 plate appearances who hit .276 or better 29.6 32.4
 . . . who had at least 45.45% of their hits go for extra-bases 6.8 8.4

In each of the last two years, more than a hundred players have hit better than .276 across both leagues. In both season less than 30 saw 45.45% or more of their hits go for extra-bases.

This article suggests that Mayberry will spend more time in left than at first base early in the year. Again, the critical question to me seems to be who the Phillies are going to play at first against right-handed pitching if Howard is out and Thome can’t play first. Again again, it seems to me the best choice offensively is to play Brown in left and Nix or Mayberry at first, assuming that the lefty Nix is probably the more conservative choice but that Mayberry might have higher upside. That seems unlikely to me to happen, so I think we should brace ourselves for a significant amount of Wigginton at first against righties early in the year.

Ryan Howard took batting practice and has no time table for his return. He also suggests he might not get to full-strength until around the All-Star break.

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Look, if I throw the ball to first base, somebody’s gotta get it. Now who has it?

Still all about who should be playing first for the Phillies against right-handed pitching with Howard out and Thome not being a first baseman. Last post we looked at offensive numbers for five players who look like they have a chance to get into the lineup for the Phils against righties early in the year, either in left field or at first base. Based on being worst in both the career and 2011 categories, I’m dropping Pierre from the list. That leaves us with Wigginton, Nix, Mayberry and Brown.

A big issue when looking at those four players is that Mayberry and Brown both have less than 250 career plate appearances against right-handed pitching. Brown has 230 and Mayberry has 205. Nix and Wigginton have both had far more chances against righties, at least 1,500 for each. Nix and Wigginton got a nearly identical number of plate appearances against righties in 2011 with far better results for Nix.

Of the guys with a lot of plate appearances, Wigginton has the slightly better wOBA against righties for his career, but Nix has been better over the last three years. In this post I pointed out that Nix’s career can be looked at in three phases, three years with Texas where he was pretty bad, three years where he didn’t get much time in the majors and the last three years in which he’s been a lot better offensively than he was early in his career.

Here’s the wOBA Nix and Wigginton have posted against righties for the past three seasons:

2011 2010 2009
Nix 341 335 336
Wigginton 310 325 326

In each of the last three seasons, Nix has been better against righties than Wigginton. In 2011 the difference was the most dramatic. Nix got 320 plate appearances against righties for the Nats last year in which he hit 263/306/475 with 16 homers. Wigginton played in Colorado, got 319 plate appearances with the Rockies and hit 235/292/413. Against right-handed pitching, Nix got on base more and hit for more power than Wigginton. While he’s not a lock to get on base against righties more than Wigginton in 2012, he’s a real good bet to hit for a lot more power against them and be the better player offensively overall.

As I pointed out in this post, in each of the last three seasons, Wigginton’s wOBA against right-handed pitching has been worse than it was in the previous season. 2008 was probably Wigginton’s best year against righties — he hit 265/322/488 in 311 plate appearances for the Astros that year.

Looking at 2012, I think it’s reasonable to expect that the lefty Nix, a left-handed hitter who can pretty much only play against righties, will be better offensively against right-handed pitching than the righty Wigginton.

A big part of the question is how those two players stack up against lefty Domonic Brown and righy John Mayberry, two hitters who have not had nearly the same number of plate appearances as Nix and Wigginton have for their careers. Nearly everyone would expect the lefty Brown to be better than the righty Mayberry against right-handed pitching over their careers. And while nobody can know for sure what Mayberry and Brown will do in 2012, people can guess. And they do. And you’re going to struggle to find projections that suggest Mayberry will be better than Brown overall this season, much less against right-handed pitching. Looking at two of the publicly available free projections, here’s Bill James’s predictions for the two players from FanGraphs for 2012 as well as their ZiPs projections:

Brown James 275 355 455 361
Brown ZiPS 273 330 465 345
Mayberry James 257 313 439 332
Mayberry ZiPS 246 300 427 317

Those numbers are total projections, not left-right splits. Both of those projections are better for Brown than Mayberry overall and you also need to assume that as a left-handed hitter he’s going to be far better against righties than Mayberry.

Nearly all of the projections you’ll find for Mayberry suggest he’s going to have a hard time getting on base. I haven’t seen one yet that projects his on-base percentage to top .320.

Of course, Mayberry has been a lot better than that in limited playing time with the Phils over the past two years, hitting 276/343/527 over 309 plate appearances, which is remarkable given his 258/328/457 line over 2,975 minor league plate appearances. If Mayberry continues to produce offense at the rates he has with the Phils over the last two years it will be an outstanding development for the team.

Most projections don’t seem to think that will happen.

In the group of Brown, Nix, Mayberry and Wigginton, Brown is the guy I’d pick to put up the best numbers against right-handed pitching in 2012. Wigginton is the member of the group likely to put up the worst.

Bottom line for me is this: Offensively, against right-handed pitching, Brown is the best choice for the Phils in left field.

It seems likely that both Nix and Mayberry will prove unable to provide league average offense as a first baseman against right-handed pitching in 2012. The lefty Nix seems like the conservative choice and the player of the two more likely to produce near league-average production at the position. Mayberry seems to have a higher upside, but against righties it’s likely his numbers in 2012 will drop rather than improve.

The Phillies, of course, have a bigger decision to make than just who is the player who will be the best offensively against righties in left and first. Especially if Brown starts the year in the minors, I think it’s likely we’re going to see all three of Mayberry, Nix and Wigginton at first against righties early in the season.

This suggests that the Phillies and Yankees are the two teams pursuing 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Solar the hardest. The right-handed Cuban defector is likely years away from the majors.

The article reviews pitchers that will be in camp for the Phils.

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.

Who else is on first?

So who is going to play first base for the Phils against right-handed pitching while Howard is out? Jim Thome is the obvious answer if he can get onto the field, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of optimism that is going to happen with much regularity. Let’s hope for the best, but I think we have to assume we won’t be seeing much at all of him at first base this year.

So what’s Plan B? Or C or D, for that matter?

Ty Wigginton is the first guy that leaps to mind. But while his career numbers make him look like a solid fill-in against left-handed pitching, his numbers against righties have to make you wary about penciling him in against right-handed pitching too often. Here are Wigginton’s career numbers against lefties and righties as well as the average for NL first basemen in 2011:

Wiggonton career vs L 1288 274 353 461 359
Wigginton career vs R 3238 261 313 437 329
2011 NL average 1B 270 350 451 346

The right-handed hitting Wigginton has been significantly better against left-handed pitching than right over his career. His isolated power against lefties and righties has been similar (.187 against lefties and .176 against righties), but he has a lower average against righties and has drawn walks at a much lower rate. Over his career, Wigginton has walked in about 10.5% of his plate appearances against lefties, but only about 6.0% of his plate appearances against righties. The combination of the slightly lower average against righties and the significantly worse walk rate against them adds up to a .313 career on-base percentage against right-handed pitching. And that makes it tough if you want to play first base against righties.

His numbers against righties over the last three years have actually been a little worse than his career numbers. Here’s what he’s done against righties since 2009:

2011 vs R 319 235 292 413 310
2010 vs R 476 252 307 436 325
2009 vs R 275 285 313 437 326


The .285 he hit against righties with the Orioles in 2009 looks nice, but he also showed the least power of the three seasons that year, posting and isolated power of .154 against righties (.184 in 2010 and .178 in 2011). He hasn’t on-based better than .313 against righties in any of the last three years.

Over the last two seasons, between the Orioles and Rockies, Wigginton has gotten 795 plate appearances in which he has hit 245/301/427 against right-handed pitching. In each of the last three seasons, Wigginton’s wOBA against right-handed pitching has been worse than it was in the previous season. 2008 was probably Wigginton’s best year against righties — he hit 265/322/488 in 311 plate appearances for the Astros that year.

Bottom line for me is that I’m hoping we don’t see a whole lot of Wigginton starting at first against right-handed pitching. If everybody is healthy, the best options against a right-handed starter to me appear to include:

  • The righty Mayberry at first and the lefty Nix in left or vice-versa
  • The lefty Brown in left and Mayberry or Nix, probably the lefty Nix instead of the righty Mayberry, at first

The other bottom line for me is that against a righty you can get two of Nix, Mayberry, Wigginton and Brown (or Pierre) into the lineup between first and left. Of those five players, Nix, Mayberry and Wigginton are the three I would guess are likely to appear at first for the Phils this year. I’d also guess Nix, Mayberry and Brown will appear in left. I’ll look at this more in a future post, but Brown in left and Nix at first against a righty with Howard out seems like the best way to go to me.

This article suggests it was the ’93 Phillies and not Jonah Hill that inspired Moneyball. Or something like that.

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