Tag: Laynce Nix

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:

PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
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.

PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
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.


Better than average Joel?

Joel Pineiro has a minor league deal with the Phils and there’s a reasonable chance he’ll get some starts with the team during the 2012 season. The 33-year-old righty was solid with the Cardinals and Angels in 2009 and 2010, making 55 starts between the two teams combined and throwing to 3.64 ERA with a 1.18 ratio.

In 2011, though, he had a miserable year with the Angels and finished the season with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.51 ratio. Through 14 starts in ’11 Pineiro sported a 3.90 ERA that hid the true story. He had a 1.43 ratio to go with it, having allowed 106 hits in 90 1/3 innings. Over his last 13 appearances, ten of which were starts, things blew up as he threw to a 7.11 ERA with a 1.63 ratio. In his last 23 appearances on the season, from May 21 to the end of the year, he allowed 160 hits in 118 1/3 innings pitched.

So allowing a ton of hits in 2011 was a big part of the problem for Pineiro. But there were others. Here are his combined numbers for 2009 and 2010 and for 2011 (in 2009 he threw 214 innings with St Louis in the NL, in 2010 152 1/3 with the Angels):

IP ERA Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9
2009-2010 366 1/3 3.64 1.18 9.2 1.5 4.8
2011 145 2/3 5.13 1.51 11.2 2.3 3.8

And here’s what righties and lefties did against him in those two years combined and in 2011:

PA AVG OBP SLG % H % BB % SO % HR % 1B
’09-’10 vs Right 751 273 302 385 25.7 3.1 13.2 1.6 18.9
’09-’10 vs Left 748 258 295 402 24.1 5.1 13.1 1.9 15.5
’09-’10 Total 1499 265 298 393 24.9 4.1 13.1 1.7 17.2
’11 vs Right 298 299 330 448 28.2 4.4 11.4 3.0 20.1
’11 vs Left 333 322 372 474 29.4 7.5 8.4 2.1 20.4
’11 Total 631 311 352 462 28.8 6.0 9.8 2.5 20.3

It’s not on the chart above, but in both 2009 and 2010 combined and in 2011, Pineiro gave up a double or a triple to about 6.0% of the batters he faced. Just about everything else got worse in 2011. Pineiro doesn’t rack up strikeouts, even when he’s pitching well, but his strikeouts were down in ’11. He gave up way more singles, walked a lot more hitters and gave up home runs at a higher rate. The walks were up more dramatically than the hits. Compared to his ’09-’10 numbers, his walks rose at about the same rate against lefties and righties.

Important to remember is that coming into the 2009 season with the Cardinals, Pineiro hadn’t been good for a while. From 2004 to 2008, he pitched for the Mariners, Red Sox and Cardinals, throwing to a 5.34 ERA and a 1.47 ratio. Over those five seasons, he allowed way too many hits, giving up 867 in 741 2/3 innings.

From 2001 to 2003, Pineiro pitched for Seattle and allowed just 431 hits in 481 1/3 innings (8.1 hits per nine). In ’03 he was seventh in the AL in fewest hits allowed per nine at 8.16. That was the end of that, though. From 2004 to 2008, he allowed 10.5 hits per nine innings and he hasn’t allowed fewer than nine hits per nine innings in any year since 2003.

I think the other things to be wary about Pineiro’s recent history are 1) his 2010 season with the Angels wasn’t that fantastic and 2) his 2009 season with the Cardinals was pretty fantastic, but during that year he prevented walks at an outstanding rate he has never matched in his career and likely won’t ever match again.

In 2010 with the Angels, Pineiro threw to an ERA+ of 104. He allowed more than a hit per inning and his walk rate from 2009 jumped.

In 2009, Pineiro walked 27 batters in 214 innings. That’s 1.14 per nine innings and in 2009 he led the NL in the category. By a lot. Arizona’s Dan Haren was second and he allowed 1.49 walks per nine that year.

Pineiro hasn’t been in the top ten in his league in fewest walks per nine innings in any other year of his career. From the start of his career in 2000 through the end of 2008, he walked 7.2% of the batters that he faced. In 2009, he walked 3.1% of the batters he faced. He faced 445 right-handed batters that year and walked ten of them (2.2%). Over the last two years, his walk rate has been down, but nowhere near as low as it was in 2009. He’s walked about 5.7% of the batters he’s faced since the start of the 2010 season and about 4.3% of the righties.

Both sides seem to think that Hamels and the Phillies will discussed a long-term contract during spring training.

In this article, Hamels’s agent suggests that the pitcher’s next contract will reflect his eliteness. Or at least it would if that was a word. The agent also suggests that Jared Weaver left a lot of money on the table in signing his five-year, $85 million deal.

This says that Jeremy Accardo has agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians.

This suggests that Amaro said left field will be a Mayberry/Nix platoon and Brown will start the year in the minors barring a monster spring training.

This suggests that Amaro said Ty Wigginton will be the primary first baseman for the Phils while Howard is out with Thome backing him up.


Nats nix the Phils’ chances to win, score an earned run

The Phils put together five hits and no earned runs yesterday and it wasn’t enough as the Nats topped them 2-1 to take the three-game set two games to one. Laynce Nix changed the game with a spectacular diving catch on a ball hit by Domonic Brown that ended the top of the sixth with the bases loaded for the Phils.

The game was also memorable because of the early exit of Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was pulled so Brown could hit for him in the sixth, having gone just five innings and thrown 79 pitches. Oswalt doesn’t sound particularly thrilled about the decision.

The Phillies are 34-22 on the year after losing to the Washington Nationals 2-1 yesterday afternoon. They have lost three of four and scored three runs in their last two games.

Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out three. In his nine starts on the year he’s thrown to a 2.70 ERA and a 1.26 ratio, but the Phillies are 4-5.

Roger Bernadina led off the bottom of the first and blooped a single to left. Ian Desmond bunted him to second with the first out before Jayson Werth singled into left, scoring Bernadina to put Washington up 1-0. Laynce Nix flew to left for the second out and Michael Morse flew to right for the third.

It was 1-1 when he started the second. He got Danny Espinosa on a ground ball to second for the first out before Wilson Ramos doubled to right. Alex Cora followed that with a walk. The pitcher John Lannan tried to bunt the runners up a base, but struck out fouling off strike three for the second out. Oswalt struck Bernadina out swinging to leave the runners stranded at first and second.

Oswalt retired Desmond and Werth on a pair of fly balls to right to start the third. Nix was next, though, and he hit an 0-1 pitch out to right-center, putting the Nats back on top at 2-1. Oswalt walked Morse on four pitches and then hit Espinosa with the first pitch of his at-bat, putting men on first and second for Ramos. Ramos grounded to second to end the inning.

Espinosa went 4-for-8 with three home runs in the first two games of the series.

Oswalt got Cora and Lannan to start the fourth before reached on a single on a ball out in front of the plate. Desmond grounded to short for the third out.

Morse doubled to right with two outs in the fifth. Oswalt got Espinosa on a fly ball to right for the third out.

Stutes started the sixth after the Phils hit for Oswalt in the top of the inning. He set Washington down in order, getting Ramos swinging for the first out and Jerry Hairston, who took over for Cora at third in the fifth, on a fly ball to left for the second. Pitcher Jason Marquis hit for pitcher Doug Slaten and flew to center for the third out.

Stutes was back for the seventh and threw another 1-2-3 frame, getting Bernadina looking for the first out, Desmond on a ground ball to short for the second and Werth on a fly ball to center for the third.

Stutes threw two perfect innings and was throwing for the second straight day, lowering his ERA on the year to 2.02. He also threw three days in a row May 23-25.

Bastardo came in to pitch the ninth and got the first two men he faced before walking Espinosa. Ramos grounded to short for the third out.

Three scoreless innings for the pen. Stutes was throwing for the second straight day and threw 29 pitches. Bastardo threw 18 pitches. Both should be available on Friday with the off-day today.

The Phillies lineup against lefty John Lannan went (1) Polanco (2) Mayberry (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Francisco (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Polanco hits leadoff with Rollins on the bench and Valdez at short. Mayberry plays center and hits second for the first time in his career. Francisco in right against the lefty with Brown on the bench, despite Brown being 10-for-his-last-19. Ruiz catches the day game after catching the night game the night before. After hitting sixth against the righty the day before, he’s dropped to seventh against the lefty.

Polanco led off the game with a single to right, but was erased when Mayberry followed and hit into a double-play. Utley flew to right for the third out.

Down 1-0, Howard led off the second with a double and Francisco walked behind him. Ibanez struck out for the first out, but Ruiz was next and hit a ball to third that Cora didn’t handle for an error. Howard scored to tie the game at 1-1 with Ruiz safe at first and Francisco safe at second. Valdez flew to center and Oswalt grounded to second to leave the runners stranded.

Mayberry was hit by a pitch with one out in the third. Utley flew to right for the second out. Howard was next and he hit a ground ball that Espinosa fielded in shallow right field with the Howard shift on. Mayberry tried to score from second, but Espinosa threw home and Ramos applied the tag to Mayberry to end the inning.

Francisco, Ibanez and Ruiz went down on three ground balls in the fourth. The Phillies were trailing 2-1.

Valdez reached on an error by Hairston at third to start the fifth. Oswalt bunted him to first with the first out before Polanco drew a walk, putting men on first and second for Mayberry. Mayberry hit a ground ball to third with Valdez forced at third for the second out. Utley flew to right to leave the runners at first and second.

Francisco walked with one out in the sixth and the Phils still down a run. Ibanez moved him to second with a single and righty Todd Coffey took over for Lannan. Ruiz flew to right for the first out, with Francisco tagging and moving up to third. Rollins hit for Valdez and walked, loading the bases for Oswalt. Brown hit for Oswalt against the righty Coffey and lined a ball to left-center, with Nix making an unbelievable diving catch to snare the ball and retire the side.

Fantastic catch by Nix changed the game.

The Phils went in order in the seventh and the eighth.

Ruiz flew to center for the first out of the ninth. Rollins was next and put down a pretty bunt that Espinosa tried to bare-hand, but didn’t get cleanly. Rollins had a single. With righty Drew Storen on the mound for Washington, Ross Gload hit for Bastrado and flew to left. Polanco was next and ripped a ball just foul that would have scored Rollins easily, but struck out looking 1-2 to end the game.

Polanco was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game. 5-for-12 with two walks in the three-game set. He’s hitting 319/367/403 for the year.

Mayberry was 0-for-3 and left three men on base. 3-for-11 with a double and a homer in the set. 231/316/365 on the year.

Utley was 0-for-4 in the game and 1-for-10 with three walks in the series. 194/324/323 on the season in 37 plate appearances.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a double, which was the only extra-base hit in the game for the Phils. 4-for-12 with a double and a home run in the set. 252/336/500 for the year. 311/404/622 with three home runs in 52 plate appearances over his last 11 games.

Francisco was 0-for-2 and walked twice. 0-for-3 with two walks in the series. He’s 5-for-his-last-16 with three walks, two doubles and a home run, but hitting just 224/337/385 for the year.

Ibanez was 1-for-4 in the game and 3-for-11 with a walk and a home run in the series. 246/296/427 on the season. 324/348/611 over his last 115 plate appearances.

Ruiz was 0-for-4. 4-for-13 with a double in the series. 250/348/362 on the season. 344/432/469 in 37 plate appearances over his last eight games.

Valdez 0-for-2 in the game and in the series. 242/277/298 on the year. Of the 149 NL players with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Valdez’s .575 OPS is 141st. On the plus side, he’s out-OPSing Dan Uggla (175/241/316).

Rollins was 1-for-1 with a walk in the game and 1-for-10 with a walk in the series. He’s hitting 263/337/357 for the year.

No game today. At Pittsburgh Friday night.


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