Tag: Phillies offense

Ruiz more than pleased to take a walk

Looking at walk rate today (based on the percentage of their plate appearances in which a player drew a walk) for the 13 Phillies batters that got at least 100 plate appearances with the team in 2008.

There were some surprises there for me. The biggest was that Ruiz drew walks at a rate slightly higher than Ryan Howard in 2008. If you’re gonna hit .219 and slug .300, you need to find your ray of light somewhere. Here it is:

Player PA BB % of PA
Pat Burrell 645 102 15.81
Jayson Werth 482 57 11.83
Carlos Ruiz 373 44 11.80
Ryan Howard 700 81 11.57
Jimmy Rollins 625 58 9.28
Chase Utley 707 64 9.05
Eric Bruntlett 238 21 8.82
So Taguchi 103 8 7.77
Geoff Jenkins 322 24 7.45
Shane Victorino 627 45 7.18
Pedro Feliz 463 33 7.13
Chris Coste 305 16 5.25
Greg Dobbs 240 11 4.58

The walk rate for Ruiz was the biggest surprise to me. He does have the advantage of hitting eighth in front of the pitcher, but his walk rate still is better than average eight hitters in the NL. In 2008, the average NL team’s eight hitters got 643 plate appearances and drew 58 walks, about 9% of their plate appearances.

Ruiz also walked more regularly than all Phillies eight hitters (including himself) combined — in 2008, Phillies eight hitters walked 60 times in 649 plate appearances, about 9.2% of the time. Ruiz got 316 plate appearances as a number eight hitter in ’08 and drew 40 walks, which is about 12.7% of his plate appearances. All other Phillies hitters batting in the eight-hole combined to walk 20 times in 333 plate appearances. That’s about 6.0% of the time.

Besides Ruiz, Coste was the guy who saw the most time hitting eighth for the Phils, and he hardly walked at all in front of the pitcher. Coste drew just six walks in 192 plate appearances as an eight-hitter last year. That’s about 3.1% of the time, which is really low.

I also would have guessed that Utley would have been ahead of Rollins. Not so much. Utley out on-based Rollins .380 to .349, but not because he walked more regularly. He hit his way on base more, hitting .292 to .277 for Rollins, and also added about 25 points to his on-base percentage by getting hit by pitch an amazing 27 times.

Dobbs actually walked at a rate lower than all of the Phillies pitchers combined. Phillies pitchers combined to draw 18 walks in 365 plate appearances for the year, which is about 4.93% of their plate appearances.

The Phillies invited nine more players to spring training, including Marcus Giles, Jason Donald and Gary Majewski. Also invited was 26-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder Jeremy Slayden, who hit 298/377/480 at Double-A Reading for the Phils in 2008.

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Early warning

Ryan Howard is 7-for-his-last-23 and has his batting average up to .214 for the season. A whole lot of things have gone wrong for Howard this season, but on Sunday he drove in three runs with a pair of doubles that he hit on the first pitch of his at-bat. Coming into Sunday’s game, Howard was hitting 214/214/357 for the season in his plate appearances that ended after one pitch.

When you compare his numbers to what he has done over the last two seasons, I think you can make the case that the poor results Howard has had when he puts the ball in play on the first pitch of his at-bat have been among the most significant differences between what he’s done so far in 2008 and what he did in 2007 and 2006.

For the last three years, here’s how many plate appearances he’s had, how many of those plate appearances ended after just one pitch, the percentage of his plate appearances that ended after one pitch, his OPS when he puts the ball in play after one pitch and his OPS overall for the season:


Year

TPA

End 1P

% 1P

OPS 1P PA

Total OPS
2006 704 83 11.8 1.273 1.084
2007 648 57 8.8 1.364 .976
2008 278 30 10.8 .733 .775

First of all, Howard is putting the ball in play on the first pitch of his at-bat in 2008 at about the same rate as he did over the last two years. If you combine 2006 and 2007, he had 140 one pitch plate appearances in 1,352 total plate appearances. That’s about 10.4 percent of the time his plate appearance ended after one pitch compared to 10.8 this season.

In 2006, though, he hit .375 when he put the ball in play on the first pitch of his plate appearance. In 2007, .463. After Sunday’s big day he’s hitting .267 in 2008 when he puts the ball in play on the first pitch of his plate appearance.

Obviously by total OPS he’s down across the board in 2008. But in both 2006 and 2007 his OPS when he put the ball in play on the first pitch of his plate appearance was significantly better than his overall OPS for the season. In 2008, it’s about the same.

And he’s also hitting fewer home runs on the first pitch of his plate appearance. Of course, so far he’s hitting fewer home runs overall, but even as a percentage of the total home runs he’s hit for the season the number he’s hitting on the first pitch of his plate appearance is down in ’08:


Year

1st pitch HR

Total HR

% of HR on 1st pitch
2006 12 58 20.7
2007 6 47 12.8
2008 1 15 6.7

Those numbers are obviously very fragile. For example, if Howard had hit two of his 15 home runs on the season on his first pitch instead of one, that would be 13.3 percent. Still, even if it’s a coincidence that the percentage of his home runs he’s hit on the first pitch has gone down since 2006, it’s an interesting one.

If your plate appearance doesn’t end on the first pitch there’s pretty much only two things that can happen. You can be down 0-1 or up 1-0 in the count. When you compare his OPS in those situations to his total OPS for the year the numbers for 2008 are much more similar to his ’07 and ’06 numbers than what he’s doing on plate appearances that end in one pitch:

After 0-1

Year

TPA

0-1

% 1P

OPS 1P PA

Total OPS
2006 704 308 43.8 .956 1.084
2007 648 284 43.8 .720 .976
2008 278 124 44.6 .653 .775

After 1-0

Year

TPA

0-1

% 1P

OPS 1P PA

Total OPS
2006 704 313 44.5 1.153 1.084
2007 648 307 47.4 1.152 .976
2008 278 124 44.6 .917 .775

By a very small margin, Howard is getting behind 0-1 this season more than he did in the previous two seasons. Overall, however, the numbers when he gets behind 0-1 or ahead 1-0 compared to his OPS for the season are a lot more similar than what’s happening when he puts the ball in play on the first pitch.

Brett Myers (3-7, 5.13) faces righty Ricky Nolasco (5-4, 5.05) tonight in Florida. Nolasco faced the Phillies in Philadelphia on May 31 and held them to two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He’s made one start since and was blasted by the Braves on Thursday, allowing seven runs in 5 2/3 innings. He’s been very strong against righties this season — they are hitting just .224 against him and have hit just one home run. Lefties are another story. They’re hitting .324 against him and have hit 11 of the 12 bombs he has allowed. The Phillies have lost seven of the last eight games that Myers has started despite the fact that Myers has been very solid in his last four starts. Over his last four outings Myers has allowed 11 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings (3.62 ERA). The Phillies have gone 1-3. Over those 27 1/3 innings Myers hasn’t allowed a home run. Excluding those innings he’s allowed 15 in 53 1/3 innings on the season. Righties are hitting .305 against him for the season. He has made one start against Florida this season and was good, holding the Fish to three runs on six hits over eight innings on May 30 (the Phils won the game 12-3, their only win in his last eight starts).


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? From a year ago? Um, thou art worse. Less temperate.

On the plus side, I do think there’s at least a chance that temperate wasn’t even that high on the list of collective goals.

Using OPS as the measure, Utley’s second base and Burrell’s left field are the only two positions where the Phils are getting more offense in 2008 than they got in 2007. That leaves six positions where they are getting less offense, the most dramatic of which are shortstop and first base. For each of the positions, here’s what all Phillies’ hitters who played that position in 2007 did compared to what they’re doing so far in 08 (the six positions doing worse are on top, left and second base below):


POS

08 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS – 08 OPS
1B 658 (13) 930 (3) 272
SS 644 (9) 875 (2) 231
RF 643 (14) 791 (8) 148
CF 771 (5) 884 (1) 113
3B 590 (13) 688 (16) 98
C 690 (12) 725 (3) 35
       

POS

08 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS (NL Rank)

08 OPS – 07 OPS
2B 1.214 (1) 935 (1) 279
LF 1.177 (1) 904 (3) 273

Right field has been a disaster for the Phils so far this season, as Jenkins and Taguchi both struggle. The numbers overall presumably will get better as Werth starts to see more time in right with the return of Victorino. It’s also reasonable to expect that both Jenkins and Taguchi will hit much better the rest of the way.

Werth’s monster numbers help the Phils out at center, but it’s not likely the team is going to be able to keep pace with what Rowand did out there in ’07. Victorino was struggling badly with the bat when he went on the DL, if he doesn’t start to hit soon I think Werth may continue to get significant time out there.

At third the Phils are 13th in the NL after being 16th last year, but sadly that just means there’s a whole lot of NL third baseman out there that aren’t hitting at all. Led by Nunez, Phils third baseman in ’07 produced more offense than they have so far in ’08.

Ruiz has been miserable behind the plate, but Coste’s big numbers help the Phils out overall.

Utley is on pace to hit 62 home runs. Burrell is on pace to drive in 156 runs on the year, and that’s with the hitters on the team that aren’t Burrell and Utley combining to on-base .301 for the season. The fact that Burrell and Utley have combined to drive in 46 runs with just about nobody getting on base around them is impressive. Burrell at least gets to hit behind Utley, so 21 for Utley may be as impressive as 25 for Burrell.

This says Victorino is expected to be activated for tonight’s game with Bohn being sent down.

Mike Lieberthal will retire as a Phillie on June 1.

Cole Hamels (2-3, 2.75) faces righty Greg Maddux (2-1, 3.66) tonight in Philadelphia as the Phils play the first of three against the Padres. Four of Maddux’s five starts on the year have been very good. In his fourth start, on April 18 in Arizona, he allowed nine earned runs in seven innings against the Diamondbacks. His next start was last Wednesday and he shut the Giants out on four hits without a walk over seven innings. He’s walked just six in 32 innings on the year. Righties are hitting .301 against him, lefties .120. He made one start against the Phils last year, which came on August 24. That was the game Ruiz brought an unconventional approach to his slide into Marcus Giles at second base. Hamels threw 121 pitches and took the loss his last time out, a combination you would be looking to avoid. Threw 121 pitches and got the win would be better, but just a little bit. Over his last two starts he’s allowed nine earned runs in 14 innings (5.79 ERA) while throwing to a 1.50 ratio. Opponents are still hitting just .201 against him. He’s walked 12 in 36 innings, with 11 of the walks coming to righties. Hamels faced the Padres on July 19 last year and held San Diego to a run on two hits over seven innings. The Phils lost 1-0, shut out by Chris Young.


Burrell and Utley getting by with a little less help from their friends than you might hope

Just how bad have the Phillies hitters other than Chase Utley and Pat Burrell been so far this season? Very. Here’s what the Phillies have done as a group so far for ’08, what Burrell and Utley have done, and what the Phillies’ hitters other than Burrell and Utley have done:

 
AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Total ’08 900 .256 .334 .447 .781
Burrell ’08 86 .349 .467 .721 1.188
Utley ’08 103 .359 .433 .757 1.191
           
Total w/o Burrell and Utley 711 .229 .301 .368 .669

As a group, non-Utley/Burrell hitters on the team have been miserable. They are on-basing .301. The list of culprits is long and includes just about everyone on the team with a few exceptions. Werth is the only other hitter with more than 40 at-bats who hasn’t been miserable, he’s hitting 292/386/569 in 72 at-bats on the season. In lesser time, Coste (361/452/639 in 36 at-bats) and Dobbs (324/395/529 in 34 at-bats) have also been good.

The list of hitters with an OPS for the season lower than .669 (the OPS for the team if you take out Burrell and Utley’s numbers) includes Howard, Feliz, Jenkins, Victorino, Bruntlett and Taguchi. All of those players have at least 40 at-bats expect for Taguchi, who has 38.

And here’s how the numbers from 2007 look:

 
AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Total ’07 5688 .274 .354 .458 .812
Burrell ’07 472 .256 .400 .502 .902
Utley ’07 530 .332 .410 .566 .976
           
Total w/o Burrell and Utley 4686 .269 .342 .441 .783

It’s not going to be a surprise to many people, but even when you take Utley and Burrell out of the equation, the Phillies hitters are faring far worse than they did overall in 2007. I don’t think you have to look far for an explanation. The primary causes surely include replacing Rollins at short with Bruntlett for much of the season and the struggles of Howard.

In 2007, Phillies first baseman hit 268/383/547 as a group (.930 OPS). So far in ’08 they have hit 168/310/347 (.658). Phillies shortstops in ’08 have hit 243/284/359 (.644) compared to 297/345/530 (.875) in 2007.

Overall, the difference between the ’07 and ’08 OPS at the shortstop position (.875-.644 = .231) is smaller than the difference between the ’07 and ’08 OPS for the first base position (.930 – .658 = .272). This seems to suggest that first base has been the bigger problem overall if you’re comparing ’08 production at the position to ’07 production at the position using OPS as the measure. However, you have to remember that Rollins got 35 at-bats as a shortstop before hitting the DL and hit 314/351/543 before giving way to Bruntlett. In his 67 at-bats as a shortstop, Bruntlett has hit 209/254/269, so I think it’s safe to say that while the numbers overall make it look like first base is the bigger problem, the Phils have struggled more replacing Rollins with Bruntlett than they have replacing ’07 Howard with ’08 Howard.


Philaelphia hoping to get its ‘d’ back soon

Several players are hitting the ball well for the Phils in the early going, but overall the offense is off to a worse start than they had last year. Jimmy Rollins taking an extended seat no doubt is part of the cause, as well as early struggles by Ruiz, Feliz and Victorino. Here’s how many runs the Phils have scored and allowed so far this year and their ’08 pace compared to what they did in 2007:

 
2008

On pace 2008

2007
Runs Scored 59 735 892
Runs Allowed 62 773 821

The Phils scored about 5.51 runs per game overall for the season in ’07. Like many other teams, their offense started off slow in April and scored more runs per game in the other months of the season. Even compared to last April, though, the Phils are off their pace. In April, 2007, the Phils scored 123 runs and allowed 121 while going 11-14. Here’s how those numbers compare to what they’ve done so far this season:

 
March/April, 2008

April, 2007
Runs scored per game 4.54 4.92
Runs allowed per game 4.77 4.84

The Phils are both allowing and scoring runs at a lower rate than they did last season.

Curiously, the Phils are getting good pitching from both their starters and their relievers and yet still allowing a lot of runs. Not including Monday’s games, Phillies’ starters have thrown to a 3.81 ERA, eighth-best in the league. Phillies relievers have been even better, throwing to a 3.53 ERA, which is fifth-best in the league. Overall, however, the Phils have allowed 62 runs in 13 games — the 62 runs is 11th best in the NL. Going by total runs can be a little misleading, cause all the teams haven’t played the same number of games at a given time, but still, by ERA the Phils pitching has been good. Better than they have been at preventing runs overall.

The problem, of course, has been the defense. The Phils have allowed 13 unearned runs in 13 games, putting them on a pace to allow 162 unearned runs in 162 games. That’s not going to happen, they aren’t going to allow anywhere near 162 unearned runs, but 13 at this point is a ton, enough to lead the NL. Last year the Marlins allowed the most unearned runs in the NL with 98 for the season — the Phillies were charged with just 54 unearned runs.


There’s no place like away

The Phils may score a lot of runs, but without Citizens Bank Park they’d be nothing, right? Right? Hello?

All of the teams in the NL East played 81 games on the road in 2007. Here’s how many runs they scored and their OPS in road games:


Team

Runs

OPS
PHI 442 .793
NYM 437 .785
ATL 433 .792
FLA 381 .761
WAS 349 .720

Not as big a difference as if you look at the numbers overall, but the Phils still come out on top. The other four teams had an advantage that the Phillies didn’t have as well, getting to play about 11% of their road games (9 of 81) at Citizens Bank Park, which was the best park for hitters in the division. In the NL, only the Reds and Marlins saw their pitchers allow more runs at home than the Phillies’ pitchers allowed (421).

The Phils did get to hit a lot against the miserable pitching of the Marlins last season and, while not quite as bad, the Nationals. But so did the Braves and the Mets.

Also, I feel compelled to point out that if you were trying to guess the NL team that scored the fewest runs in their away games you might have to guess for a while. The Diamondbacks scored 326 runs in their away games, 18 fewer than the 15th-place Cubs, on their way to a 90-win season.

This article suggests that if Johan Santana is going to be traded to the Mets, Yankees or Red Sox, it may happen in the next ten days. More here.

Free agent third baseman Corey Koskie may not play this season


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