Tag: Phillies third base

It takes two to make a thing go right-left

Here’s what Phillies hitters did with the bat while playing third base in 2008:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB AVG OBP SLG OPS RC
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:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB AVG OBP SLG OPS RC
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:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB AVG OBP SLG OPS RC
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:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB AVG OBP SLG OPS RC
Total 653 610 185 37 5 26 37 .303 .342 .504 .846 105.19

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.

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB AVG OBP SLG OPS RC
Dobbs 385 363 112 23 2 15 17 .309 .339 .507 .846 -
Feliz 168 154 44 8 2 7 14 .288 .349 .496 .845 -
Others 100 100 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -
Total 653 617 156 31 4 22 31 .253 .290 .422 .712 75.34

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
  AVG OBP SLG OPS
2008 309 339 507 846
Career 278 322 444 766
         

Feliz vs LHP
2008 288 349 496 845
Career 267 312 446 758

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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Desperate for outs after losing Nunez, Phils vote for Pedro

Without an answer at third base since Scott Rolen departed in 2002, the Phillies appear poised to open yet another chapter in the saga. It’s really kind of a tough book to recommend.

Pending a physical, it seems the Phillies will sign 32-year-old Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract worth $8.5 million with a club option for 2010.

Feliz is a fantastic defensive player and sure to give the Phils a boost with the glove, but the news is disappointing. The fact that Dobbs and Helms are both barely passable defensively at third base was a big problem. But the answer wasn’t a guy with nearly 3,000 career at-bats and a career-high on-base percentage of .305.

Feliz is good for 20 home runs a year, maybe more at Citizens Bank Park. He hasn’t slugged over .430 in the last three seasons, though. In 2007 he slugged .418 — Helms, Nunez and Ruiz were the only three Phils to get 200 at-bats and post a worse slugging percentage.

He’s just a mess as an offensive player. He cut down on his strikeouts last season, posting under 100 whiffs for the first time since 2004. He’s drawn 100 walks in the last three years combined (Burrell and Howard both walked over 100 times in 2007). He hits into a lot of double-plays. Most importantly, though, he just can’t hit left-handed or right-handed hitting. He’s a career 263/305/437 hitter against righties and 248/282/431 against lefties.

His addition would almost surely mean there’s no room on the team for both Dobbs and Helms. The Phils deal Helms for a relief pitcher seems like the best bet, but it’s not exactly going to be an example of selling high. I’d love to see Dobbs continue to get a bunch of starts at third base against righties, bad defense or not. We’ll have to wait and see what the Phillies say and do, but I’d be surprised if they brought in Feliz to do something besides play third base every day.

If Dobbs does go to the bench it does solve the no-lefty on the bench problem. That was a small one, though.

Up till now I thought Eric Bruntlett’s role was going to be primarily as the guy who plays third base in the late innings. Don’t know what he’s going to do now, but he seems sure to hang on to a job as the Phils need someone to back up second and short and their choices are extremely limited.

Using OPS as the measure, the Phils got less offense from their third basemen in 2007 than any other team in the National League. They posted a .688 OPS. Except for five innings played by Russell Branyan, Dobbs, Nunez and Helms got all the time at third base last season. Offensively overall on the year, Nunez was terrible, Helms was terrible and Dobbs was okay. But in the at-bats Dobbs got as a third baseman, he was just wretched. Here’s what Dobbs did in his at-bats last season when he was playing third base and in his at-bats last season when he wasn’t playing third base:

 
AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Dobbs as 3B 190 .232 .293 .347 .641
Dobbs not as 3B 134 .328 .380 .597 .977

I think you can make the argument that it was simply a fluke that Dobbs was so much worse offensively when he played third base in 2007 than when he played other positions. In the same way, Helms is virtually guaranteed to produce more offense in 2008 than he did in 2007. The Phillies got some miserable production out of third in ’07, but there was a good chance that Dobbs, Helms and Bruntlett of ’08 were going to outplay Dobbs, Helms and Nunez of ’07 by a lot offensively.

The Phillies gave Abraham Nunez 212 at-bats as a third baseman last season in which he hit a miserable 255/342/311. If you’re going to give that kind of an offensive player that many at-bats you can’t be surprised when you wind up the worst in the league at the position. Your third base situation is just terrible if you have to do that — Nunez at third was a weak solution, but apparently it was the best the Phillies could come up with. Charlie Manuel just wasn’t going to regularly let Dobbs or Helms play third late in a close game. Given those options, my guess is that we would have seen a ton of Bruntlett at third in ’08 as a defensive replacement, burning the bat of Dobbs or Helms early. I’m not saying that would have been a good way to handle the situation, but I think it’s what Manuel would have done. If the plan was to give Bruntlett Nunez-like numbers of at-bats at third in an effort to address the problem that Dobbs and Helms are barely passable defensively there, giving those at-bats to Feliz instead would be an improvement.

The addition of Feliz guarantees that the team will be better defensively at third than they have been for a long time. Since Scott Rolen, in fact. Feliz and Rollins are going to do about as good a job as anyone at keeping ground balls from going through the left side of the infield. And the team can and will score runs, whoever the third baseman is. What they need to figure out is how to prevent them.

Sure wish they would have tried getting a pitcher, though.

This from the Phillies web site also says that Chad Durbin is likely the fifth guy in the bullpen behind Lidge, Romero, Gordon and Madson.


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