Tag: Lou Marson

Best way for Phils to get ahead may be to get ahead

WC Fields once said, “There are only two real ways to get ahead today — sell liquor or drink it.” In baseball at least, you can also throw strike one.

In Sunday night’s post I pointed out that the Phillies give up both a lot and a high percentage of their home runs on the first pitch. Today’s post will take a look at how often NL teams got ahead or behind in the count on the first pitch. Later this week I’ll look at which teams got the best results by getting ahead in the count on the first pitch.

After the first pitch of a plate appearance, the plate appearance can be over or the count can be 1-0 or 0-1. The chart below shows how often each of those things happened for the NL teams last season. For each team it shows, for the batters they faced, how many had their plate appearance end on one pitch, how many of them the team’s pitchers got behind 1-0 and how many they got ahead of 0-1 (and their NL rank for each of those categories):

Team %
one-pitch
Rank % 1-0 Rank % 0-1 Rank
CHI 11.4 9 41.2 6 47.4 6
PHI 12.5 2 41.0 5 46.5 11
SFG 10.6 15 42.7 15 46.6 10
SDP 11.8 8 41.5 8 46.7 9
HOU 12.6 1 39.8 2 47.6 5
STL 11.9 7 40.3 3 47.8 4
NYM 11.4 11 41.4 7 47.2 7
WSN 11.2 12 42.4 13 46.4 13
ARI 12.2 4 38.1 1 49.6 1
LAD 11.4 10 40.4 4 48.2 2
COL 11.9 6 41.7 10 46.4 12
PIT 12.3 3 44.2 16 43.5 16
MIL 12.1 5 41.7 11 46.2 14
CIN 10.4 16 41.5 9 48.1 3
FLA 11.2 13 42.7 14 46.1 15
ATL 11.0 14 42.1 12 46.9 8

Arizona clearly wins the prize for getting ahead of hitters in 2008. They got ahead of 49.6% of the hitters they faced 0-1, which was the best rate of the league. They got behind 38.1% of them 1-0, which was also the best rate in the league. Not far behind them are the Dodgers.

At the other end of the scale, the Pirates are the clear winners of the don’t-go-to-the-head-of-the-class award with both the worst rate of getting ahead and the worst rate of getting behind.

This all seems pretty simple — the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers were really good at pitching last year and the Pirates were really bad. Case closed. Sadly, if you look a little deeper things get perplexing. The Astros and the Cardinals were both very good at getting ahead of hitters and not getting behind them and neither team pitched exceptionally well in ’08. The Brewers pitched well last year and were miserable at getting ahead of hitters.

The Phillies, meanwhile, saw a high percentage of their plate appearances end in one pitch. Including that, though, they weren’t especially good at getting ahead of hitters. They did, however, avoid falling into a 1-0 count pretty well.

Here’s what the getting ahead and getting behind numbers look like if you take out the plate appearances that ended on the first pitch:

Team % 1-0 % 0-1 Rank of %
PA got ahead 0-1
CHI 46.5 53.5 6
PHI 46.9 53.1 8
SFG 47.8 52.2 14
SDP 47.0 53.0 9
HOU 45.6 54.4 2
STL 45.7 54.3 4
NYM 46.8 53.2 7
WSN 47.8 52.2 13
ARI 43.4 56.6 1
LAD 45.6 54.4 3
COL 47.3 52.7 11
PIT 50.4 49.6 16
MIL 47.4 52.6 12
CIN 46.3 53.7 5
FLA 48.1 51.9 15
ATL 47.3 52.7 10

Again, Arizona and LA are really good, but are joined by staffs with worse numbers like the Cardinals, Astros and Reds atop the list. The Pirates are still bad, but so are the Brewers.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are still not especially good at getting ahead of opposing hitters despite all they have going on during the first pitch.

JA Happ got the start for the Phillies yesterday as the Phils topped the Yankees, 8-3. With the win the Phils are 9-11 in spring training.

Happ went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. Only one of the runs was earned and he dropped his official spring ERA to 3.15. Condrey, Eyre and Lidge all threw scoreless innings. Koplove pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two hits and a walk. The outing puts his ERA on the year at 1.42.

Ibanez was 3-for-3 with two doubles in the game. He’s hitting .263. Bruntlett also had a big day, 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles to raise his average to .340. Cairo hit a three-run homer in his only at-bat in the game. Giles was 1-for-1 with a double but is still hitting just .182. Donald 0-for-3 with a walk. Paulino is hitting .185 after going 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

Toronto this afternoon with Chan Ho Park and his worrisome hamstring expected to pitch.

Kyle Kendrick will not be the fifth starter for the Phillies to start the season. Kendrick, Lou Marson and Brad Harman were sent to minor league camp yesterday. Also sent to minor league camp were Donald, Borkowski and Woods.

This suggests that Hamels could start the fourth game of the season.

On Sunday night Team USA lost to Japan 9-4 and were eliminated in the World Baseball Classic. Jimmy Rollins had a fantastic game, going 4-for-4 with a triple, a walk and a stolen base. Shane Victorino did not get an at-bat in the game. The US team was eliminated with the loss. Rollins hit 417/500/750 in 24 at-bats in the tournament. He also stole four bases. Victorino got 19 at-bats and hit 316/350/316.

Japan beat Korea last night, 5-3, to win the tournament for the second-straight time. Ichiro had a two-run single in the top of the tenth to break a 3-3 tie.


2009 on the mind

Back to the managers soon.

I put up the 2009 Phillies page, where I will track my best guess at who will be on the ’09 squad.

It looks to me like there are seven spots open for next year, three for pitchers and four for hitters.

Of the pitcher’s spots, two are in the starting rotation behind Hamels, Myers and Blanton. Jamie Moyer looks like a good bet to take one of them. I would still call Kendrick the front-runner for the #5 spot, with Happ behind him and Eaton way, way behind both of them.

The other spot appears to be for a right-handed relief pitcher. Romero and Eyre look likely to handle the left-handed duties, joining righties Lidge, Madson, Condrey and Durbin in the pen. That leaves one spot, and I’m guessing it goes to a righty veteran reliever not currently with the organization. It could be Gordon or Seanez, but I would still go with field as a better guess at this point.

The bigger questions are with the offense. I think there’s a good chance the Phils will bring back Burrell. They should try and I think they will. His absence would leave a huge gap in the lineup, leaving Werth as the best right-handed hitter on the team. Werth is great, but the second-best right-handed hitter on the team would be Feliz, which is not great. Again, we’ll have to cut Feliz at least a little break what with winning the World Series and whatnot.

The emergence of Werth as an everyday player has created a problem for the Phillies with a lack of right-handed options off the bench. They went out of their way to demonstrate this by starting Chris Coste as their DH in the World Series. I think you can argue that the Phillies need two right-handed hitters, a big one, like Burrell, to play left, and another to backup the outfield and hit off the bench. The Phillies had a problem with not having enough right-handed hitters last year and that was with Burrell.

The Phillies either need Burrell back or they need a big right-handed bat in his place. Might as well just make it Burrell. I would be surprised if they traded for or signed an expensive right-handed free agent to play left field that wasn’t Burrell. My guess is that one of the four remaining offensive slots will be taken either by Burrell or a cheap right-handed hitter who can play left field and will play often.

That leaves three spots — one catcher spot behind Ruiz, one more outfielder and another bench spot that will probably be taken by a fifth outfielder.

With Victorino, Werth and Burrell (or his replacement) in the outfield, the Phillies don’t look like they have room for all of Stairs, Jenkins and Golson. I think a disaster scenario for the Phils is one where they trade Victorino to let Golson play regularly in center field. Golson needs to be a fifth outfield if he’s on the team in ’09 — if he is on the roster I think he will be. A less disastrous scenario in my mind is trading Victorino and letting Werth play center regularly with Golson backing him up. That plan is still a bit worrisome as it’s not a lot of backup for Werth, who still has limited experience playing every day. It would mean that Golson would probably get a job backing him up, but he wouldn’t have much of an organizational net behind him.

Werth can play center, though, well enough to be there regularly if the Phils had the hitters to man the corner outfield spots.

I would guess that the Phils will not start ’09 with both Stairs and Jenkins on the team. Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins is too many left-handed hitters coming off of the bench, especially given that Stairs and Dobbs are hard to use defensively. I’d guess they trade Stairs given that he’s cheaper and more tradable. I have Jenkins penciled in as the fourth outfielder, giving them Victorino, Werth, Jenkins and Burrell or cheap right-handed free agent.

I hope in 2009 we will see Dobbs’ role expand to include signficant time in the outfield against right-handed pitching.

Jenkins and Burrell are two of the four spots. Leaves one bench spot and a catcher.

Ruiz is surely coming back, but I feel much less sure about Coste. The in-house options for second catcher along with Ruiz include Coste, Jason Jaramillo and Lou Marson. Jaramillo was not especially impressive at Triple-A last year and Marson was at Double-A. Marson is 22, Jaramillo is 26. Some people think 19-year-old Travis D’Arnaud is going to be better than both of them, although there’s about zero chance you’ll see him next year. My guesses are 1) that the Phillies would only put Jaramillo or Marson on the 25-man roster to start the season if it was as a third catcher and 2) if they did it would be Jaramillo and not Marson. You have to believe that Jaramillo could be had in a trade if people really think he’s a potential regular player. Here’s what I think is likely for the Phils at catcher at this point, in order of likelihood 1) they sign a veteran catcher to share duties with Ruiz 2) Coste and Ruiz 3) Ruiz, Coste (or veteran catcher) plus Jaramillo 4) Ruiz plus Jaramillo.

The addition of the second catcher leaves one spot on the roster, which could be taken by a fifth outfielder, a third catcher or a pitcher. I think you can assume that Bruntlett will handle the utility role. 23-year-old Brad Harman is coming, but I don’t think it’s yet. This spot may go to Golson, but I don’t think it should. I’d go with a right-handed hitter here that can also play a corner outfield position — a part-time player that’s probably not currently in the organization.

Here’s my guess then at this point as to who will be on the 25-man roster when the ’09 season starts:

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Condrey, Romero, Eyre and a veteran right-handed relief pitcher that is currently not with the organization.

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ruiz, Burrell, Victorino, Werth, Jenkins, Bruntlett, Dobbs, veteran catcher not currently with the team, veteran right-handed corner outfielder not currently with the team.


Bench slayers

The Phillies played their final game of the regular season yesterday, fielding a team of bench players that rolled over the Nats to get the Phils an 8-3 win.

Lou Marson made his major league debut and hit a two-run homer. So Taguchi, on the bench all season long, led the offense with three hits and three runs driven in. Taguchi got just 91 at-bats this season, many of them miserable, but looks likely to be part of the active roster when the Phils play the Brewers on Wednesday.

Kyle Kendrick wont’t be. Kendrick got the start and again didn’t pitch well. He threw to a 7.59 ERA after the All-Star break and leaves the Phils with a big question at the back of the rotation whenever they get around to thinking about next year.

Probably won’t be today.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals yesterday, winning 8-3. They end the regular season 92-70, which is the most wins since they’ve had since they won 97 in 1993. They have won three in a row. Twenty-two games above .500 is their best mark for the season.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went four innings, allowing three runs on four hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out one and ends the season with a 5.49 ERA.

Kendrick set down the first six batters he faced before Luke Montz started the third with a home run to left that tied the game at 1-1.

The Nats pulled ahead 3-1 with two runs in the top of the fourth. Anderson Hernandez and Kory Casto led off the inning with back-to-back doubles. Alberto Gonzalez drove in Hernandez with a one out single to center.

Walrond struck out four as he threw a scoreless fifth and a scoreless sixth after the Phils hit for Kendrick in the bottom of the fourth.

Happ pitched the seventh and allowed a two-out single to Pete Orr, but struck out Lastings Milledge, pinch-hitting for the pitcher Shairon Martis, to leave Orr stranded with the Phils up 5-3.

Happ returned to start the eighth. He walked Anderson with one out before he struck out Casto for the second. Pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans moved Anderson to second and Seanez came in to pitch to the righty Gonzalez. Seanez got Gonzalez to fly to right for the third out.

Condrey allowed a single and a walk in a scoreless ninth.

Condrey and Seanez both seem likely to have a chance to make the Phils post-season roster. The use of Happ was interesting — I think we may see Hamels, Myers, Moyer as the rotation against the Brewers with Blanton as the fourth option. If Happ makes it on to a post-season roster, which seems unlikely, I’d guess it will be to pitch out of the pen. Kendrick has been told he will not be part of the post-season roster.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Odalis Perez went (1) Taguchi (2) Bruntlett (3) Iguchi (4) Jenkins (5) Coste (6) Cervenak (7) Golson (8) Marson. Taguchi in left, Bruntlett at short, Coste at first, Cervenak at third, Golson in center and Marson catching. Marson making his major league debut. Cervenak and Golson getting their first career starts.

With Bruntlett on third (singled) and Iguchi on second (doubled) with one out in the first, Bruntlett came in to score on a wild pitch with Jenkins at the plate to put the Phils up 1-0. Jenkins couldn’t bring Iguchi in to third with one out, though, he flew to left for the second out. Coste walked before Cervenak struck out to leave both men stranded.

Marson struck out in his first major league at-bat for the second out of the second.

The Phils started the fourth down 3-1 and scored three times to take a 4-3 lead. Marson singled with two outs. Werth hit for Kendrick and moved Marson to third with a single. Werth stole second before Taguchi brought both runners in with a single (3-3) and took second on a fielding error by Casto. Bruntlett followed with a double that scored Taguchi and put the Phils up 4-3.

With two outs in the sixth, Howard hit for Walrond singled. Taguchi followed with a triple that scored Howard and put the Phils up 5-3.

With Golson on first and one out in the eighth, Marson hit a 1-2 pitch from Marco Estrada out to left to put the Phillies up 7-3. Stairs followed, hitting for Seanez, and he homered to right. 8-3.

Taguchi 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBI in the game. He had six RBI for the season coming into the game.

Bruntlett 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Iguchi 2-for-5 with a double.

Jenkins 1-for-4.

Coste 0-for-3 with a walk.

Cervenak 0-for-4.

Golson 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Marson 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

Rollins was 2-for-6 with two doubles and three walks in the series. He has stolen 21 bases since the end of July and been caught twice. After hitting 313/411/458 in September, he’s hitting 277/349/437 at the end of the regular season.

Werth was 4-for-10 with a home run in the series, including a single today. He came into the series 1-for-his-last-21. 273/363/498 for the year.

Utley 4-for-8 with a double in the series. 292/380/535.

Howard was 4-for-9 with a double and a home run. 251/339/543. He goes into the post-season 7-for-his-last-15.

Burrell 1-for-4 with two walks in the set. 250/367/507 for the year.

Victorino 4-for-8 with a double in the series. 293/352/447 to end the season after hitting 344/378/516 in September. Hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves for how well he played down the stretch.

Feliz was 1-for-4 with a double in the series. 249/302/409 for the season. He ends the season with a .705 OPS — over the last four seasons, the range of his OPS at the end of the year has been .705 to .717.

Dobbs was 1-for-3 with a double in the series and ends the year at 301/333/491.

Ruiz 0-for-6. 219/320/300 on the year. 0-for-his-last-15.

The Phils play the Brewers on Wednesday.

This article suggests this is who we should expect on the Phillies post-season roster:

Hitters: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Dobbs, Coste, Ruiz, Burrell, Victorino, Werth, Bruntlett, Stairs, Jenkins, Taguchi.

Those guys can hit, but missing from the group is a right-handed bat off the bench — no matter who the Phils pick for their post-season roster, I don’t think they can solve that problem.

Pitchers: Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Blanton, Lidge, Romero, Durbin, Madson, Condrey, Eyre, Seanez

Assuming the Phillies go with 11 pitches, I think Golson or Taguchi as the 14th hitter is the only real choice for the Phillies. I would go with Golson, but I don’t think the Phillies will, especially after Taguchi’s big day yesterday.


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