Tag: Nomar Garciaparra

The 40/.340 club

Two points today about Ryan Howard.

The first one is actually more a point about batting average. In 2008, Ryan Howard hit .251. A year earlier he had hit .268. In the two years, though, he got a hit when he came to the plate at almost exactly the same rate:

Year PA H % of PA
with hits
2007 648 142 21.91
2008 700 153 21.86

The issue, of course, is walks and that batting average doesn’t care about how many plate appearances you have. So even though Howard accumulated hits at a virtually identically rate in 2008 as he had in 2007, he changed plate appearances that were walks in 2007 to outs in 2008. That gave him more at-bats while he continued to get hits at a very similar rate.

Howard’s walk rate was down in 2008 compared to recent seasons. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances he drew walks, intentional walks and unintentional walks over the past three seasons:

Year PA BB % BB IBB % IBB UBB % UBB
2006 704 108 15.3 37 5.3 71 10.1
2007 648 107 16.5 35 5.4 72 11.1
2008 700 81 11.6 17 2.4 64 9.1

The decline in the walk rate had Howard’s on-base percentage low for a player who hits so many home runs. In 2008, Howard hit 48 home runs with an on-base percentage of .339. How many times would you guess a player has hit at least 40 home runs with an on-base percentage under .340 in the last ten seasons? I believe the answer is that across both leagues there have been 107 other instances of 40 or more home runs and only twice, Tony Batista in 2000 and Jose Canseco in 1998, has the guy who hit them on-based less than .340:

Year Player Team HR OBP
2008 Ryan Howard PHI 48 0.339
2008 Adam Dunn CIN/ARI 40 0.386
2007 Alex Rodriguez NYY 54 0.422
2007 Prince Fielder MIL 50 0.395
2007 Ryan Howard PHI 47 0.392
2007 Carlos Pena TAM 46 0.411
2007 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.386
2006 Ryan Howard PHI 58 0.425
2006 David Ortiz BOS 54 0.413
2006 Albert Pujols STL 49 0.431
2006 Alfonso Soriano WAS 46 0.351
2006 Lance Berkman HOU 45 0.42
2006 Jermaine Dye CHW 44 0.385
2006 Jim Thome CHW 42 0.416
2006 Travis Hafner CLE 42 0.439
2006 Andruw Jones ATL 41 0.363
2006 Carlos Beltran NYM 41 0.388
2006 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.365
2005 Andruw Jones ATL 51 0.347
2005 Alex Rodriguez NYY 48 0.421
2005 David Ortiz BOS 47 0.397
2005 Derrek Lee CHC 46 0.418
2005 Manny Ramirez BOS 45 0.388
2005 Mark Teixeira TEX 43 0.379
2005 Albert Pujols STL 41 0.43
2005 Paul Konerko CHW 40 0.375
2005 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.387
2004 Adrian Beltre LOS 48 0.388
2004 Albert Pujols STL 46 0.415
2004 Adam Dunn CIN 46 0.388
2004 Barry Bonds SFG 45 0.609
2004 Manny Ramirez BOS 43 0.397
2004 Jim Thome PHI 42 0.396
2004 Jim Edmonds STL 42 0.418
2004 Paul Konerko CHW 41 0.359
2004 David Ortiz BOS 41 0.38
2003 Jim Thome PHI 47 0.385
2003 Alex Rodriguez TEX 47 0.396
2003 Barry Bonds SFG 45 0.529
2003 Richie Sexson MIL 45 0.379
2003 Javy Lopez ATL 43 0.378
2003 Albert Pujols STL 43 0.439
2003 Frank Thomas CHW 42 0.39
2003 Carlos Delgado TOR 42 0.426
2003 Jason Giambi NYY 41 0.412
2003 Sammy Sosa CHC 40 0.358
2002 Alex Rodriguez TEX 57 0.392
2002 Jim Thome CLE 52 0.445
2002 Sammy Sosa CHC 49 0.399
2002 Barry Bonds SFG 46 0.582
2002 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 43 0.391
2002 Lance Berkman HOU 42 0.405
2002 Shawn Green LAD 42 0.385
2002 Jason Giambi NYY 41 0.435
2001 Barry Bonds SFG 73 0.515
2001 Sammy Sosa CHC 64 0.437
2001 Luis Gonzalez ARI 57 0.429
2001 Alex Rodriguez TEX 52 0.399
2001 Shawn Green LAD 49 0.372
2001 Jim Thome CLE 49 0.416
2001 Todd Helton COL 49 0.432
2001 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 47 0.381
2001 Richie Sexon MIL 45 0.342
2001 Phil Nevin SDP 41 0.388
2001 Manny Ramirez BOS 41 0.405
2001 Troy Glaus ANA 41 0.367
2000 Sammy Sosa CHC 50 0.406
2000 Barry Bonds SFG 49 0.44
2000 Jeff Bagwell HOU 47 0.424
2000 Troy Glaus ANA 47 0.404
2000 Vladimir Guerrero MON 44 0.41
2000 Richard Hidalgo HOU 44 0.391
2000 Gary Sheffield LOS 43 0.438
2000 Frank Thomas CHW 43 0.436
2000 Jason Giambi OAK 43 0.476
2000 Jim Edmonds STL 42 0.411
2000 Todd Helton COL 42 0.463
2000 Carlos Delgado TOR 41 0.47
2000 Alex Rodriguez SEA 41 0.42
2000 Tony Batista TOR 41 0.307
2000 Dave Justice CLE/NYY 41 0.377
2000 Ken Griffey Jr. CIN 40 0.387
1999 Mark McGwire STL 65 0.424
1999 Sammy Sosa CHC 63 0.367
1999 Ken Griffey Jr SEA 48 0.384
1999 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 47 0.42
1999 Chipper Jones ATL 45 0.441
1999 Greg Vaughn CIN 45 0.347
1999 Carlos Delgado TOR 44 0.377
1999 Manny Ramirez CLE 44 0.442
1999 Jeff Bagwell HOU 42 0.454
1999 Shawn Green TOR 42 0.384
1999 Vladimir Guerrero MON 42 0.378
1999 Alex Rodriguez SEA 42 0.357
1999 Mike Piazza NYM 40 0.361
1998 Mark McGwire STL 70 0.47
1998 Sammy Sosa CHC 66 0.377
1998 Ken Griffey Jr SEA 56 0.365
1998 Greg Vaugn SDP 50 0.363
1998 Albert Belle CWS 49 0.399
1998 Vinny Castilla COL 46 0.362
1998 Jose Canseco TOR 46 0.318
1998 Juan Gonzalez TEX 45 0.366
1998 Manny Ramirez CLE 45 0.377
1998 Andres Galarraga ATL 44 0.397
1998 Rafael Palmeiro BAL 43 0.379
1998 Alex Rodriguez SEA 42 0.36
1998 Mo Vaughn BOS 40 0.402

Batista and Canseco both did it in the AL. Sammy Sosa hit 40 home runs for the Cubs in 1996 with an on-base percentage of .323.

Howard does have company on the all-time list of the seasons where a player has hit at least 48 home runs with an on-base percentage under .340. But not a lot — Andre Dawson hit 49 home runs for the Cubs with an on-base percentage of .328 in 1987. A player has hit 48 or more in a season 71 times.

This suggests it’s unlikely the Phillies will add Nomar Garciaparra or pitchers Will Ohman or Joe Beimel.

This says the A’s are also interested in Nomar.

Carlos Carrasco thinks he has a good shot to be the Phillies’ fifth starter.

Todd Zolecki, who is now writing for MLB.com and previous scribed the Zo Zone and Phillies Zone, is now back at it with The Zo Zone, but at a new location. It’s all a little complicated, but his blog is now here.


Look! Closer!

Still on the theme of differences between the 2007 and 2008 teams. One of the differences is that the combination of scoring many fewer runs while hugely improving the bullpen meant that, based on the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, the Phils were playing in closer games in 2008 than they were the year before.

Here’s the number of runs that each of the teams scored in the games that they won and the games that they lost:

Runs scored in wins
Year W R R/G
2007 89 645 7.24
2008 92 587 6.38
       
Runs scored in losses
Year L R R/G
2007 73 247 3.38
2008 70 212 3.03

And here’s the differences in the runs they allowed in games they won and lost:

Runs allowed in wins
Year W RA RA/G
2007 89 304 3.42
2008 92 274 2.98
       
Runs allowed in losses
Year L RA RA/G
2007 73 517 7.08
2008 70 406 5.80

In 2008, the won 92 games and in those games they scored 587 runs and allowed 274 runs. In the 89 games they won in 2007, they scored 58 more runs but allowed 30 more as well.

Not only did the Phillies improvements at preventing runs help them to win more games with fewer runs, it also meant that, going by the average number of runs they scored and allowed, they played in closer games in 2008 than in 2007. Comparing the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, when they lost they lost by less by almost a full run:

In losses

Year AVG Runs
scored
AVG Runs
allowed
Difference
2007 3.38 7.08 3.70
2008 3.03 5.80 2.77

And when the won in 2007, going by the average number of runs, they won by more:

In wins

Year AVG Runs
scored
AVG Runs
allowed
Difference
2007 7.24 3.42 3.82
2008 6.38 2.98 3.40

Todd Zolecki, now writing for MLB.com, reviews the Phillies options as they search for a right-handed hitter now that Ty Wigginton has signed with Baltimore. Options two and three are pretty bad — the Phils could really use a right-handed hitter.


Then again, maybe it is how you start

The Phillies started different players at third base and catcher regularly in 2008. Here is a look at the team’s record in games where they started Feliz or Dobbs at third, remembering that the Phillies went 92-70 overall, which is a .568 winning percentage:

Player GS at 3b W-L PCT
Pedro Feliz 106 63-43 .594
Greg Dobbs 42 21-21 .500

Eric Bruntlett started 13 games at third for the Phils in ’08. The team went 7-6 in those games. Mike Cervenak started the last game of the year at third for the Phils, which the team won.

Except for the last game of the year, which was caught by Lou Marson, Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste split the catching starts in 2008. Ruiz got 92 and Coste 69:

Player GS at C W-L PCT
Carlos Ruiz 92 55-37 .598
Chris Coste 69 36-33 .522

Coste and Ruiz shared the starts with Rod Barajas in 2007 as well, and again the Phillies played to their best winning percentage with Ruiz behind the plate (in ’07 the Phillies went 89-73, which is a .549 winning percentage):

Player GS at C W-L PCT
Carlos Ruiz 100 58-42 .580
Rod Barajas 37 17-20 .459
Chris Coste 25 14-11 .560

Over the last two years, the Phillies are 113-79 (.589 winning percentage) in the games that Ruiz started at catcher and 68-64 (.515) in the games someone else started at catcher.

In all three examples, Feliz in ’08, Ruiz in ’08 and Ruiz in ’07, the team’s winning percentage when starting the better defensive player is better than the team’s winning percentage overall for the season. This could be caused by a whole lot of things other than Pedro Feliz or Carlos Ruiz making the Phillies win when they start. For example, to generalize, I think it’s safe to say that Charlie Manuel starts his better defensive players in games that are started by his better starting pitchers. Ruiz, for example, caught 26 of Hamels’ 33 starts in ’08 and 19 of his 28 starts in 2007. At the same time, the Phillies went 19-14 in the 33 games that Hamels started in 2008. That’s a .576 winning percentage, worse than the .598 winning percentage that the Phillies posted overall in the games started by Ruiz. In ’07, the Phils went 19-9 in the 28 games started by Hamels, a .679 winning percentage that was better than the .580 in the games started by Ruiz.

To speculate further, another factor is surely that Manuel considers Feliz and Ruiz his best players at the position and puts them into games he sees as the ones the Phillies need to win. For that reason, it may be that the presence of Feliz or Ruiz in the lineup reflects that the lineup is stronger overall, because Manuel chose to play what he saw as he best players at all positions and not just third and catcher, rather than cause the lineup to be stronger. Still, that’s a whole lot of wins over the last two years in games that Ruiz started.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that Ruiz’s catching duties actually shrunk slightly last year for the Phils, both in terms of the number of games he started (92 down from 100) and the number of innings he caught (828 down from 912 2/3).

Interview with Charlie Manuel at Beerleaguer.

This article lists Nomar Garciaparra, Ty Wigginton, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Mark Grudzielanek and Kevin Millar as the right-handed hitters the Phillies are interested in. Wigginton would be the prize of that group by a lot and a fantastic fit with the needs of the team. This says that the Orioles are interested in Wigginton, but he wants a two-year deal and Baltimore would prefer to give him one year.


Not only that, but Larry Fitzgerald didn’t do a thing against them all season long

The Phillies both hit and pitched very well last season, but if you compare the number of runs they scored and allowed on the way to winning the World Series to what they’ve done in recent seasons, the difference in the number of runs they allowed in 2008 is much more dramatic than the difference in the number of runs they scored.

In 2008, the Phillies scored the fewest runs they have scored in five seasons:

Year Runs AVG OBP SLG OPS
2004 840 267 345 443 788
2005 807 270 348 423 772
2006 865 267 347 447 794
2007 892 274 354 458 812
2008 799 255 332 438 770

Last season the Phillies hit to their worst average over the past five years, posted their lowest on-base percentage and their second-worst slugging percentage. They scored the fewest runs they had scored since 2003 when they scored 791. After finishing third in the NL in runs scored in 2004 and second in 2005, the Phils led the NL in runs scored in 2007 and 2006 before tying for second with the Mets in ’08.

The pitching, however, is another story. In 2008 the Phillies allowed the fewest runs in the past five seasons by a wide margin.

Year Runs
allowed
NL Rank
2004 781 13
2005 726 T-8
2006 812 T-12
2007 821 12
2008 680 3

After struggling badly in 2006 and 2007, the Phillies allowed about 130 fewer runs in 2008 than they had in each of the past two seasons. The Phillies haven’t allowed 680 or fewer runs in a 162-game season since 1991 (when they also allowed 680). In 1995 they allowed 658 runs over 144 games — allowing runs at that rate would have put them at about 740 over 162 games. They allowed 497 runs in 115 games in 1994, about 4.32 runs per game, which would have had them at about 700 over 162 games.

The Phillies haven’t allowed fewer than 680 runs in a season since 1985, when they allowed just 673.

Cole Hamels signed a three-year, $20.5 million deal with the Phillies, which is great for Phillies fans for a bunch of reasons, including that it will limit the amount of time we will have to spend reading about Cole Hamels’ contract negotiations over the next few years.

Greg Dobbs signed a two-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Ryan Madson turned down a three-year, $12 million offer from the Phillies.

Nomar still undecided about whether he will play baseball this year. Scored in overtime to lead his team to a win over wife Mia Hamm’s team in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge over the weekend.

Update: The Phillies have now signed Madson to a three-year deal, believed to be worth $12 million.


What a difference a duck makes

More on walks, this time using career numbers to look at the difference between the rate 13 potentially key Phillies for ’09 walk with the bases empty and with the bases not empty. For each of the hitters, here’s the percentage of their plate appearances where they’ve walked when they came to the plate with men on base, the percentage of their plate appearances where they’ve walked when they came up with the bases empty and the difference between the two:

 
Men on

Bases Empty
 

Player

% BB

% BB

Difference

Ryan Howard

17.1

9.7

7.4

Ronny Paulino

9.3

5.2

4.1

Jimmy Rollins

9.2

6.3

2.9

Geoff Jenkins

9.5

6.6

2.9

Raul Ibanez

9.5

7.4

2.1

Carlos Ruiz

11.2

9.6

1.6

Greg Dobbs

6.6

5.3

1.3

Eric Bruntlett

9.6

8.8

0.9

Shane Victorino

7.1

6.3

0.8

Chase Utley

9.1

8.3

0.8

Jayson Werth

12.0

11.4

0.6

Pedro Feliz

5.4

5.1

0.4

Chris Coste

4.4

4.8

-0.4

Enormous difference for Ryan Howard, who was walked about 1.76 times as often with men aboard than he has with the bases empty. On the other end of the scale, Chris Coste is the only player in the group who has walked less often with men on base than with the bases empty.

Who is hitting behind you no doubt has an impact on how often you walk with men on base. Chase Utley, for example, has a walk rate over his career with men on base that’s very similar to his walk rate with the bases empty, which may have a lot to do with all the time he’s spent hitting ahead of Ryan Howard.

Others are a little harder to explain. Pedro Feliz and Ronny Paulino have walked at about the same rate with the bases empty, but Paulino has walked at a much higher rate with men on base.

One thing I do wonder about sometimes is whether the Phillies would be better off hitting Victorino first and Rollins second, assuming that those two guys are going to hit one and two in the order anyway. I think I would still go with Rollins hitting leadoff, but over their careers they have walked at a very similar rate with the bases empty while Rollins has drawn walks more of the time when he came to the plate with men aboard. In 2008, both Rollins and Victorino continued to walk at about the same rate with the bases empty. Victorino walked 22 times in 345 plate appearances (6.38% of the time) while Rollins walked 26 times in 406 plate appearances (6.40% of the time). Rollins’ walk numbers with men on base, however, shot way up compared to what he has done for his career. In 2008 he got 219 plate appearances with men aboard and drew 32 walks. That’s about 14.6% of his plate appearances.

Also of note on Rollins is that despite the fact that his offensive numbers overall for 2008 were down compared to ’06 and ’07, he was a monster with the bat with men on base and not just by drawing walks. Rollins got 219 plate appearances with men on base in ’08 and hit .324 and slugged .559. Both of those numbers are near career highs for him with men on base. In 2006 he slugged .560 with men on base and in 2000, in 18 plate appearances, he hit .353 with men on base.

Finally, Bruntlett has walked more often over his career than I would have guessed. Howard, Ruiz and Werth are the only three players of the group of 13 who have walked more than him in their plate appearances with the bases empty. There’s really very little reason for a right-handed pitcher to walk Bruntlett unless he’s hitting in front of the pitcher.

This suggests the Phillies may be interested in Gabe Kapler and Normar Garciaparra as right-handed bats off the bench. Sounds good to me, Phils are going to need more right-handed hitting. Kapler may be easier to use in the field, but either of those guys would help.

Ad: Eagles playoff tickets at TicketCity.


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