Tag: michael young

The third men

The walk rate for Phillie third baseman in 2012, when the Phils were 15th in the league in walk rate, was worse than it was in 2007, when Phillie hitters overall drew more walks than any other team in the league. The bigger problem, though, is that the team’s walk rate at the position is just terrible and has been for years.

For the last six seasons, here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which the Phillies third basemen have drawn walks, the average for the league at the position and the team’s rank in the NL for walks drawn by third basemen:

Year PHI 3B BB% NL AVG 3B BB% NL Rank BB @ 3B
2012 4.7 8.1 16
2011 7.8 7.5 7
2010 5.6 8.5 15
2009 5.6 9.1 16
2008 6.7 8.9 14
2007 8.7 9.0 10

So that’s bad. Four of the last five years the Phillies have been 14th or worse in 16-team NL in walk rate at third base. 2011 was the only year in the last six they’ve been non-terrible. Polanco led the way that season, walking in 8.0% of his plate appearances as a third baseman. That was the best walk rate of his career and well above his career-average of 5.5%.

In 2012, the Phillies walked in just 4.7% of their plate appearances at third, their worst mark of any of the last six miserable years (at least for walking at the position). They drew just 32 walks for the season, which was less than any other NL team.

Polanco got about 47% of the plate appearances at third for the Phillies in 2012 and walked in about 5.1% of them. Frandsen got about 30% of the chances and walked in about 3.9% of those. Wigginton, Fontenot, Martinez, Orr and Luna combined for the other plate appearances at the position and walked in about 5.2% of them.

Michael Young looks to be the guy for the Phils at third in 2013. In 2012, he walked in about 5.1% of his plate appearances, not much better than the 4.7% of PA the Phils walked in during 2012. There’s a good chance a 5.1% walk rate for the Phillies at the position would likely still have them 16th in the NL in total walks at third in 2013. The two teams that were within striking distance for the Phils in 2012 were the Rockies and Astros — both of those team saw their third basemen walk in about 5.3% of their plate appearances.

Finally, Michael Young’s career walk rate is about 6.6%. If he managed to walk in about 6.6% of his plate appearances during 2013 and got all of the Phillie chances at third, the team would likely be around 13th at the end of the year (at least based on 2012 results).

Juan Cruz is not yet in camp due to what Amaro suggests is a communication issue.

This suggests that Michael Stutes is feeling well.

Update: Juan Cruz and the Phillies have apparently decided to “part ways.”

You guys will fit right in

The Phillies have added three key offensive players this off-season. Two of them are bad defensive players who don’t walk and the other is a good defensive player who doesn’t walk.

All three of them join a team that doesn’t walk anymore.

Here’s the walk rate for Phillie batters over the last ten years and the rank of that walk rate in the NL for that season:

Year BB% NL Rank
2012 7.4 15
2011 8.6 6
2010 8.9 4
2009 9.3 8
2008 9.3 5
2007 9.8 1
2006 9.6 2
2005 10.1 1
2004 10.0 2
2003 10.3 1

That’s obviously not going in the direction one would hope. In five of the last ten years, and every year from 2003 to 2007, the Phillies were first or second in the NL in walk percentage. In 2012, they were 15th in the league. The Rockies were the only team to walk in a lower percentage of their plate appearances than the Phillies.

In 2012, the team’s walk rate was down for the fifth year in a row (it’s actually 9.34% in ’08 and 9.29% in ’09).

And then the Phils added three guys that look likely to 1) play just about every day and 2) walk even less than the 7.4% of plate appearances that Phillie batters walked in 2012.

Even with the disappointment of 2012 and the playoff loses in ’10 and ’11, Amaro’s time as the GM of the Phils has been a success. The Phillies had the best record in baseball in 2011 and the best record in baseball in 2010. In 2009, they went to the World Series and lost to a better team.

So it’s been a good run.

What is true, though, is that the Phillies hitters have walked a whole lot less in the four years since Amaro has arrived than they did in the four seasons before his arrival.

Amaro became the team’s GM in November of 2008. Here’s the team’s walk rate over the four years he’s been at the helm (2009-2012) compared to the teams’ walk rate in the previous four seasons (2005-2008):

Amaro years
Year PA BB BB%
2012 6172 454 7.4
2011 6279 539 8.6
2010 6291 560 8.9
2009 6338 589 9.3
Total 25080 2142 8.5
Four previous years
2008 6273 586 9.3
2007 6537 641 9.8
2006 6509 626 9.6
2005 6345 639 10.1
Total 25664 2492 9.7

In the four years since Amaro joined the team, the Phillies have averaged 535.5 walks per season. In the four years previous to 2009, they walked an average of 623 times a year. So they’re down about 87.5 walks a season on average since Amaro took over compared to ’05 to ’08.

Not to be forgotten in all of this is that, declining walk rate or not, the Phils led the NL in runs scored per game in 2009 and were second in 2010. In ’09, they led the league in runs scored per game despite having the eighth-best walk rate in the NL.

There’s a lot of differences between the ’09 and ’10 teams than the 2012 team, though. The biggest one is that the ’09 and ’10 teams won a whole lot of games and the 2012 team did not.

The walk rate of 7.4% for the Phillies in 2012 is really low. How low? If you run out of stuff to do this weekend, look up how long it has been since Phillie batters walked in 7.4% of their plate appearances or less. It might take you longer than you would have guessed.

From worse to bad

Michael Young’s walk rate is bad. Unlike Delmon Young’s, though, it’s not atrocious. And I think it’s more reasonable to expect Michael Young’s walk rate to significantly improve in 2013 than it is to expect Delmon’s to improve. And it’s definitely more likely we’ll see Michael Young’s walk rate approach league average than it is to see Delmon’s.

In 2000, Young got two plate appearances and didn’t walk in either of them. He made his debut pinch-running for Pedro Valdes with two outs in the top of the ninth and his Rangers down 7-5 on September 29, 2000. The next day he entered in the sixth inning and went 0-for-2 in the game. Scott Service struck him out swinging in his first career at-bat and lefty Todd Belitz got him on a fly ball to deep left to end the game. The A’s beat Young’s Rangers 23-2 that day.

The table below shows Michael Young’s walk rates overall and against lefties and righties in every year since 2000. It also shows the average MLB walk rate for that season:

Year MLB AVG BB% BB% vs L vs R
2001 8.5 6.1 7.4 5.6
2002 8.7 6.5 5.5 6.8
2003 8.5 5.0 3.8 5.6
2004 8.6 6.0 8.3 5.1
2005 8.2 7.9 8.9 7.6
2006 8.4 6.4 8.2 5.8
2007 8.5 6.8 7.7 6.5
2008 8.7 7.8 8.9 7.4
2009 8.9 7.9 11.8 6.4
2010 8.5 7.0 8.4 6.4
2011 8.1 6.8 6.5 6.9
2012 8.0 5.1 6.0 4.8
Career - 6.6 7.6 6.3

So Young has failed to match the NL walk rate for any year of his career. That’s less than ideal. The best offensive year of his career is 2005 and it’s also the year he came the closest. He hit .331 for the Rangers that season with 24 home runs, but walked in just 58 of his 732 plate appearances. There were 150 players across both leagues in 2005 with at last 500 plate appearances and Young’s walk rate among those was in the middle of the pack. 7.9% put him at 84th among the 150.

In 2012, Young’s walk rate was 5.1%, which is the worst mark of his career other than 2003. His walk rate against righties of 4.8% was the worst for his career and his 6.0% walk rate against lefties was the worst it had been since 2003.

His walk rate against lefties was down, but it’s the walk rate against righties that really hammered him in 2012.

From 2003 to 2010, Young’s walk rate against lefties ranged from 7.7% to 11.8% and averaged 8.9%. That dropped way off in 2011, down to 6.5%, and dropped again down to 6.0% in 2012.

The bigger drop, though, was against right-handed pitching. Coming into 2012, Young’s walk percentage against rigties over the last five seasons had ranged from 6.4% to 7.4% with an average of 6.7%. In ’12, that plummeted all the way to 4.8%.

As I pointed out in this post, the right-handed Michael Young was simply atrocious against righties in 2012, hitting 277/312/370 with a wOBA of .280. That’s coming off of a 2011 in which he hit 330/373/465 against righties with a wOBA of .363.

Bottom line is that Michael Young has been way better at hitting righties (and walking against them) over his career than he was in 2012, as evidenced by his career 297/341/435 line and .340 wOBA against righties. And it’s not like he’s been undergoing a consistent and gradual decline against right-handed pitching. His drop from 2011 to 2012 against righties was dramatic. If he doesn’t improve against righties relative to his 2012 numbers, his career, at least as an everyday player, is just about over. But there’s also reason to believe that his chances of bouncing back against righties in 2013 are good.

Todd Zolecki takes a guess at the batting order for the Phillies here. It goes:

  1. Rollins (SS)
  2. M Young (3B)
  3. Utley (2B)
  4. Howard (1B)
  5. D Young (RF)
  6. Brown/Ruf/Mayberry (LF)
  7. Kratz (C)
  8. Revere (CF)

The Phillies are really going to have to start Delmon Young in right field before I’m willing to believe they think he should be playng there. I think Michael Young will hit lower than that and the left-handed Revere will hit higher, at least against right-handed pitching — he stole 40 bases last year and I don’t think the Phillies want him doing that in front of the pitcher in 2013.

If Domonic Brown is healthy on Opening Day and not in the starting lineup against a righty, I will be very surprised.

Here’s my guess for Opening Day, in which the Phils seem likely to face righty Tim Hudson:

  1. Rollins (SS)
  2. Revere (CF)
  3. Utley (2B)
  4. M Young (3B)
  5. Howard (1B)
  6. D Young (LF)
  7. Brown (RF)
  8. Kratz (C)

Biggest thing there is that Utley and Howard and not hitting 3/4 in the order. Howard is fifth with the righty Michael Young splitting the lefties Utley and Howard. Would the Phillies really hit Ryan Howard fifth? Against a righty? On Opening Day? I think they should. If they don’t on Opening Day, I think they will before long. When’s the last time Howard started a game hitting anywhere but cleanup in the order? June 29, 2008 against the Rangers in a DH game. Utley third, Burrell fourth, Howard fifth and Dobbs the DH sixth. Burrell breaking up the lefties Utley and Howard. Howard hit fifth in four games in ’08, all DH games — 6/25, 6/27, 6/28 and 6/29.

They’re all DH games for the Phillies in 2013 given they’re an NL team with three of them. Howard is just about a lock to be awful defensively. Both of the Youngs started more games at DH in 2012 than any other position.

Michael Young hitting cleanup against a righty to break up Utley and Howard isn’t exactly ideal, given that he’s right-handed and hit 257/291/352 against right-handed pitching in 2012.

I could easily see another catcher, like Quintero, starting instead of Kratz. I think it makes sense to hit Brown ahead of Young against a righty, but would guess that the Phillies do it the other way around. It seems to me like Revere will likely hit at the bottom of the lineup against left-handed pitching. I’d guess he hits higher against righties.

Welcome to the broke down machine

Shortly after the addition of Ben Revere, I whipped through a couple of posts in which I lamented the fact that, given his complete lack of power, Revere was likely either going to have to significantly up his walk rate or hit for a very high average to be able to post a league-average wOBA.

In this post, I put Revere’s 5.2% walk rate from last season in the context of the 2012 Phillies.

Delmon Young’s walk rate for 2012 was 3.3%. Here’s what the table looks like if we add him (I’ve also added Michael Young, so we can look at all three new players together):

Chase Utley 362 11.9
Ty Wigginton 360 10.3
Domonic Brown 212 9.9
Laynce Nix 127 9.5
Jimmy Rollins 699 8.9
Ryan Howard 292 8.6
Hunter Pence 440 8.4
Shane Victorino 431 8.1
NL Average - 7.9
’12 Phillie total 6172 7.4
John Mayberry 479 7.1
Erik Kratz 157 7.0
Carlos Ruiz 421 6.9
Mike Fontenot 105 6.7
Placido Polanco 328 5.5
Ben Revere 553 5.2
Juan Pierre 439 5.2
Michael Young 651 5.1
Kevin Frandsen 210 4.3
Michael Martinez 122 4.1
Freddy Galvis 200 3.5
Delmon Young 608 3.3

So the table now includes the walk rate for every Phillies with at least 100 plate appearances, Revere, both Youngs, the Phillie team average and the NL average walk rates in 2012.

One of the differences between the Youngs and Revere is Revere’s near total lack of power. There’s not much reason to walk Revere if you believe he has little change to do worse than single anyway. That’s not the case with the Youngs.

Michael Young’s walk rate in 2012 was bad. Delmon Young’s walk rate in 2012 was atrocious.

Across both leagues, there were 223 players who got at least 350 plate appearances in 2012. Delmon Young’s walk rate of 3.3% was better than just one of the 223. Alexei Ramirez walked in 2.6% of his 621 plate appearances. Michael Young’s walk rate of 5.1% was 201st of the 223 players.

While we’re here, I don’t think you want to let Domonic Brown’s walk rate pass you by without notice. Especially in relation to the walk rates of Young and Young, and double especially Delmon. In 2012, Domonic Brown walked 21 times in 212 plate appearances. That’s more walks overall than Delmon Young had (20) in 608 plate appearances. Brown’s walk rate for his career is 10.4% — and he’s not even a good hitter yet. I think he will be. And I think we’re not going to have to wait that much longer.

The Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal, $1.1 million deal with 35-year-old right-handed reliever Chad Durbin. Durbin last pitched with the Phillies in 2010. He struggled with the Indians in 2011, throwing to a 5.53 with a 1.64 ratio, but bounced back nicely with Atlanta in 2012 as he pitched to a 3.10 ERA with a 1.31 ratio. He has thrown at least 60 innings in relief in each of the last five years and appears to be a lock for a bullpen spot, joining Papelbon, Adams and Bastardo in the pen and leaving two or three open slots, depending on whether the Phils start the year with 13 or 14 hitters.

Durbin was with the Phillies from 2008 to 2010, throwing to a 3.62 ERA with a 1.37 ratio in those seasons combined. 2008 was the best year of his career — he threw to a 1.56 ERA in his first 56 appearances with the Phils that season and ended the year having pitched to a 2.87 ERA and a 1.32 ratio over 87 2/3 innings. He pitched for the Phillies in the post-season in ’08, ’09 and ’10 and was particularly good in the 2009 NLCS as the Phils topped the Dodgers in five games. He pitched in four of the five games in that set, facing nine batters and retiring all nine.

The Phillies signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal. He’ll be with the team in spring training as a NRI and try to make the squad as a utility guy. Betancourt is 30-years-old and hits right-handed. He was Milwaukee’s everyday shortstop in 2011 and Kansas City’s in 2010. He got 228 plate appearances with the Royals in 2012, playing mostly second base. He hits for a low average and doesn’t walk. He’s hit 36 home runs and 70 doubles over his last 1,400 plate appearances, which is an average of about 13 homers and 25 doubles over 500 plate appearances. He was bad defensively at second for the Royals in 2012 and put UZR/150s of -7.4 and -9.2 at short in 2011 and 2010. He’s posted a negative bWAR for six straight years and a negative fWAR in two of the last four.

Hamels seems to think we should all calm down about his shoulder.

The best of the rest

Game Score is an enormously flawed stat, but looking at the Start Log data for 2012 does help demonstrate part of what was wrong for the Phillies last year.

The average Game Score for a start by a Phillies pitcher in ’12 was 54.2, which is the lowest it has been since 2009. There were only two starters for the Phils in 2012 who posted an average Game Score for the year better than the team’s average of 54.2 — Hamels averaged 59.74 in his 31 starts and Lee averaged 58.93 in his 30. Halladay, notably, joined Worley, Blanton, Kendrick, Valdes, Cloyd and Rosenberg in the group of starters under the team’s 54.2 average.

In 2011, Halladay, Hamels and Lee all averaged Game Scores above 60.

The Phils had six games in 2012 in which their starter threw to a Game Score better than 80. Here are the teams six best starts for 2012 by Game Score:

April 5, Halladay 83. Phillies beat the Pirates 1-0 on Opening Day as Halladay allows two hits and no walks over eight shutout innings.

April 18, Lee 85. By Game Score, this is the second-best start of the year for the Phillies in 2012. Lee strikes out seven in ten shutout innings. Bastardo started the bottom of the eleventh in a scoreless tie and the Giants got an unearned run on two singles and a Wigginton error.

May 3, Blanton 87. Best start of the year for the Phillies by Game Score. Blanton throws a complete-game, three hit shutout and the Phils top the Braves 4-0. He threw just 88 pitches in the game.

August 7, Hamels 83. Best start of the year for Hamels as he throws a complete game, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out six. Howard hits a two-run homer in the top of the first as the Phils score three runs on their way to a 3-0 win over Atlanta.

August 10, Halladay 82. The only pitcher to make two starts with Game Scores over 80, Halladay allowed a run on two hits and no walks while striking out eight as the Phils topped the Cardinals 3-1, breaking a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run shot by Utley.

August 19, Kendrick 82. The third Game Score of 80 plus in a 12-day period for the Phils. Kendrick makes his best start of the year, allowing three hits and a walk over eight shutout innings while striking out seven. The Phillies score five runs charged to Randy Wolf in the first three innings and roll to an 8-0 win.

For the Phillies it was their first season since 2008 in which they didn’t get a start with a Game Score better than 90.

In 2011, Lee threw a complete-game shutout of the Nats on April 14, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out 12 and posting a Game Score of 92.

Halladay threw a perfect game on May 29, 2010 with a Game Score of 98.

There were two starts with a Game Score above 90 in 2009. On August 19, Lee struck out 11, walked none and allowed two singles in a complete game against the Snakes. The Phils won 8-1 and Lee’s Game Score was 92. On September 1, Hamels allowed two hits and a walk while striking out nine in a complete game shutout as the Phils topped the Giants 1-0. 91 Game Score in that start for Hamels.

This Q&A from the Phillies web site speculates that Michael Young could play some first base against lefties this year if Howard continues to struggle against them. Mayberry and Ruf seem like good candidates as well. Mayberry seems like the one of that trio who would not be terrible defensively at the position he was playing (left field, presumably) if he was in the lineup and not at first, which presumably makes it less likely he would be there than Ruf or Young if Howard was on the bench against a lefty.

This suggests that the Phillies and Bastardo have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.4 million deal.

Article on 22-year-old lefty Adam Morgan here. Morgan threw to a 3.35 ERA in 158 2/3 innings over 27 appearances, 26 of which were starts, between Clearwater and Reading in 2012.

This article discusses the possibility that Michael Young will hit between Utley and Howard in 2013.

This article suggests the Phillies are seriously considering signing Delmon Young.

Update: The Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal. I would have guessed he would get more money than that. At least on paper, that’s a really good deal for the Phils to land the MVP of last year’s ALCS. No word yet they plan to play on paper next year, though. So brace yourself for the possibility there might be a bump or two ahead.

This says Young could earn as much as $3.5 million if all incentives are reached.

Young earned $6.75 million in 2012.

Oh, to be able to hit right-handed pitching again

In 2012, Michael Young made 651 plate appearances for the Rangers, hitting 277/312/370 in what was the worst offensive season of his career. You can make the case his 2002 season, in which he hit 262/308/382 was worse, but I’ll take 2012.

Between his ugly 2002 and his ugly 2012 seasons, Young got 6,332 plate appearances in which he hit 311/358/461. He came into 2012 having hit 313/361/476 over his last three seasons.

So what went wrong for Young in 2012?

Whatever it was, it probably didn’t have a lot to do with hitting against left-handed pitching. The righty Young posted a 333/371/423 line against lefties in 2012. His career line against left-handers is 314/365/471. His isolated power against left-handed pitching was .090 in 2012. Coming into the 2012 season, he was hitting .312 against lefties with a .476 slugging percentage. That’s an isolated power of .164.

So, relative to his career numbers, in 2012 he hit for a better average against lefties, but with less power.

In terms of problems, though, the slight drop in power against lefties is nothing compared to what the right-handed Young hit against right-handed pitching in 2012. Young hit 257/291/352 against righties last year. He put up a wOBA against right-handed pitching of .280. Among the 223 players across both leagues that had at least 250 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, the .280 mark was 199th. Shane Victorino, unbearably awful against righties in 2012, was 201st with a .279 wOBA against righties.

So Young was terrible against righties in 2012. That hasn’t been the case over his career, though, or even in his recent history. Here are some of his numbers against right-handed pitching over the past eight seasons:

Year wOBA % H % BB ISO
2012 .280 24.2 4.8 .095
2011 .363 30.0 6.9 .135
2010 .320 24.8 6.4 .155
2009 .390 30.7 6.4 .201
2008 .314 25.2 7.4 .098
2007 .344 29.4 6.5 .099
2006 .352 29.7 5.8 .137
2005 .388 30.0 7.6 .189
Career .340 27.4 6.3 .138

In 2012, Young posted his lowest wOBA against righties for the last eight years, got hits in the fewest percentage of plate appearances against righties in the last eight years, walked in the fewest percentage of plate appearances against righties in the last eight years and hit for the lowest isolated power against righties in the last eight years.

Notably, Young was good against righties as recently as 2011. Given he’s going to get a whole lot of chances to hit right-handed pitching for the Phillies in 2013, let’s hope 2012 was a one-year funk.

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