Back to bWAR and how the Phillies pitching overall might possibly improve in 2013 shortly. Looking back at yesterday’s post, though, the thing that caught my eye the most looking at the data was Vance Worley’s 1.51 ratio in his 23 starts with the Phillies.
In 2011, Worley went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.23 ratio in 131 2/3 innings for the Phils. He made 25 appearances and 21 of those were starts. Last year he made 23 appearances, all starts, throwing to a 4.20 ERA with a 1.51 ratio.
Ratio is just hits plus walks over innings pitched, so given that his ratio went from 1.23 to 1.51 from 2011 to 2012, either his rate of giving up hits or walks must have gone up dramatically.
One of them did. Here’s his percentage of batters faced who got a hit or a walk in 2011 and 2012:
Worley faced 553 batters in 2011 and 590 in 2012. His walk rate actually went down in 2012 as he walked just 8.0% of the batters he faced. The hits were way up as he allowed hits to 26.1% of the hitters he faced after allowing hits to just 21.0% of hitters in 2011.
Even down from his ’11 mark, Worley’s walk rate of 8.0% was high relative to the rest of the pitchers who started games for the Phillies in 2012. Higher than Hamels (6.0%), Lee (3.3%), Kendrick (7.3%), Halladay (5.6%), Blanton (3.2%), Cloyd (5.1%) and Valdes (4.4%). Higher than everyone but Rosenberg — BJ Rosenberg started one game for the Phillies in 2012 and ended the year with a walk rate of 13.2% (he walked 14 in 25 innings, which is a candidate for stuff to work on going forward).
So Worley’s walk rate was high, at least compared to the other starters for the Phillies. But lowering his walk rate in 2012 didn’t make his ratio go up. It was all of the hits.
Opponents hit .237 against Worley in 2011. They hit .296 against him in 2012. He dominated left-handed hitters in 2011, holding them to a paltry 201/271/299 line. In 2012, lefties hit a less paltry 312/386/462 against him. Righties fared remarkably similarly against him in both years, hitting 272/336/439 against him in 2011 and 280/331/433 in 2012.
Worley had a stunning year in 2011, pitching extremely well in the minors and then extremely well with the Phillies.
Here are his minor and major league numbers combined for hits allowed per nine innings for the years before 2011, 2011 itself and 2012:
||H per 9
So clearly he had much more success in preventing hits in 2011 than he had had in the years before or has had since.
For his career, he’s thrown a lot more innings in the minors than in the majors. In his 431 innings in the minors, about 78% of which have come below Triple-A, he has allowed 8.9 hits per nine innings. That includes his 2011 season, when he was fantastic in the minors at preventing hits (7.3 per nine) over 50 2/3 frames. Excluding 2011, over his career he’s allowed 9.09 hits per nine innings in the minors. In 2011, he spent most of the year in the majors and allowed 7.75 hits per nine innings.
And again, in 2011 and 2012, righties posted a nearly identical line against him. Lefties killed him in 2012 and he was unusually fantastic against him in 2011.
So one could make the argument that 2011 was simply a fluke in which Worley allowed way fewer hits than we should expect him to allow in the future.
That’s pretty close to what I believe.
I think there’s a lot of hope out there for people who don’t believe that, though, starting with his outrageous BABIP in 2012.
During 2012, Worley threw 133 innings with a ridiculous batting average for balls in play of .340. Across both leagues, there were 111 pitchers who threw 130 or more innings. Of those 111, only one, Detroit’s Rick Porcello, had a BABIP worse than Worley’s .340. Porcello threw 176 1/3 innings in 2012 with a BABIP of .344.
Beyond that, Worley was really solid in his first 12 starts of the season, throwing to a 2.92 ERA with a 1.26 ratio. His BABIP over those 12 starts was .297. Things went nuts after that, though. Over his last 11 starts, Worley threw to a 5.80 ERA with a 1.83 ratio. Opponents hit .350 against him, with an enormous BABIP of .404. Worley didn’t walk a lot of people in those games and he didn’t give up a lot of home runs. He just allowed a ton of hits.
A quick trip to Worley’s page on FanGraphs seemingly reveals more good news about 2012. His ground ball percentage was up in 2012 relative to 2011. He saw more of his fly balls go for home runs in 2012 than he did in 2011, which could help explain why his numbers dropped overall. His FIP was not terrible, notably better than Kendrick’s despite Kendrick’s better numbers using more traditional stats.
So maybe he really did just get extremely unlucky in 2012.
Maybe not, too.
This suggests that the Phillies are in serious talks with Texas about acquiring Michael Young.
This suggests that Texas might pay more than half of the $16 million that Young is owed in 2013.
This suggests that Schwimer might be the reliever the Phillies would be most willing to part with in a deal for Young.
After being bad defensively at third for three straight years, Young advanced to atrocious in 2012 in limited time. He played just 215 innings at the hot corner last season. Overall, he posted a -2.4 WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference for the season in 2012 and a -1.4 WAR as calculated by FanGraphs.
This suggests the Phillies have a five-man list for center field that includes Bourn, Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Ben Revere and Dexter Fowler.
Of those, Hamilton, Granderson and Fowler would be terrible defensive players in center.
This suggests Hamilton is very close to going to Seattle.
This suggests that Nate Schierholtz has agreed to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Cubs.
The Rule 5 Draft started this morning at 10 AM. Look for the Phillies to pick up a starting third baseman, a starting center fielder and an eighth inning guy. Just kidding. But not as much as I wish I was.
Update: The Phillies traded Worley and Trevor May to the Twins for Ben Revere.