Here’s what Phillies hitters did with the bat while playing third base in 2008:
|All 3B ’08||653||603||148||29||2||20||44||.245||.295||.400||.695||71.52|
The runs created at the end uses the most basic formula for runs created. If you use the technical version, the result is 65.32.
The left-handed Greg Dobbs and right-handed Pedro Feliz were both fantastic against their opposite side in 2008. Here’s what they did:
|Dobbs v R||230||217||67||14||1||9||10||.309||.339||.507||.846||-|
|Feliz v L||152||139||40||7||2||6||13||.288||.349||.496||.845||-|
They were both really good, posting almost the same OPS.
Phillies third basemen in 2008 combined to get 653 plate appearances. Since about 30.3% of the Phillies plate appearances overall came against lefties and 69.7% of their plate appearances overall came against righties, I’m going to estimate that of the 653 plate appearances in ’08 for Phillies third basemen, 455 of them came against righties and 198 came against lefties.
Now I’m going to adjust what Dobbs and Feliz did to give Dobbs 455 plate appearances against righties and Feliz 198 plate appearances against lefties. Here goes:
|Dobbs v R||455||429||133||28||2||18||20||.309||.339||.507||.846||-|
|Feliz v L||198||181||52||9||3||8||17||.288||.349||.496||.845||-|
And if you add the Dobbs numbers and Feliz numbers together, it looks like this:
The fictional DobbsFeliz beast can hit. It can’t draw a walk, but you can’t have everything. The actual .695 OPS that the Phillies third basemen put up in 2008 was 27th best among NL teams in terms of production at third base. An .846 would have been sixth best. Using the most basic form of runs created to do the estimate, the Phillies created 33.67 (105.19 minus 71.52) more runs with their mythological creation. If you use the technical formula for runs created, the number is 36.21 (101.53 created by the Dobbs/Feliz thing, minus 65.32 actually created).
The difference in offense almost surely offsets Dobbs’ defensive problems. Ultimate Zone Rating, for example, has Dobbs’ UZR/150 at -9.6 as a 3B and 9.4 for Feliz. You also have to remember that the better defensive player, Feliz, would still be playing significant defensive innings, presumably around 30.3% of them.
There are some problems, though.
First, even if the Phillies wanted to give every at-bat against righties to Dobbs and every at-bat against lefties to Feliz, that’s a lot simpler said than done. Actually, it’s really simple to say (give it a try!), but impossible to do — the flow of the game simply prohibits it. Feliz also missed about a month of the season with an injury in 2008.
Still, letting Dobbs hit against righties and Feliz hit against lefties leaves a lot of room for slop. Here, for example, is what it looks like in a ’08 world where Dobbs and Feliz combined to get 553 of the plate appearances for Phillies third basemen, with Dobbs only hitting against righties and Feliz only hitting against lefties, and the other 100 plate appearances were given to some combination of players that went 0-for-100.
Even with the 0-for-100 in the last 100 plate appearances, the Phillies still create about four more runs using the basic formula. Using the technical formula for runs created they create 72.81, which is 7.49 above the actual 65.32 mark for the third basemen in ’08.
While it does seem pretty clear the Phillies would score more runs if they went with a strict Dobbs/Feliz platoon at third, you have to also be aware that both Feliz and Dobbs out-performed their career numbers hitting against their opposite side in 2008:
Dobbs vs RHP
Feliz vs LHP
Both players were much better in ’08 against their opposite side than they’ve been over their careers. Feliz notably put up a .667 OPS against lefties in ’07 and a .633 OPS against them in ’06. Dobbs has been a little more stable against righties, but still doesn’t have a huge number of opportunities over his career. Still, for last year at least, I don’t think there’s much of a question that a straight left-right platoon would have produced significantly more offense out of the position than the Phillies got.
The Phillies signed infielders Anthony Hewitt, Pablo Ozuna and Jorge Velandia and left-handed pitcher Jacob Woods to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training.
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