There were several players from the 2013 Phils that didn’t make the cut in the most recent post of non-pitchers with a WAR greater than zero as calculated by both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. A bunch of them seem to have a good chance to play on the 2014 Phils. Here are some of them:
Kevin Frandsen comes the closest to having a positive WAR as calculated by both sites. He only played 33 innings of defense at third base in 2013 and appeared at first in 40 games for the Phils. Frandsen at first in 40 games isn’t a good sign things are running smoothly for your squad, even if you don’t have a $20 million first baseman. 2012 was the best year of his career and his on-base percentage last year dropped from .383 to .296 as he posted a 202/243/292 line against righties. He’s hammered left-handed pitching in each of the last two years, but he’s really not the answer at first and if he’s not going to play third it’s hard to see what there is for him to do other than pinch hit against lefties. Regardless of what they should do, I think it’s likely we see some of Frandsen at first early in the year if Howard isn’t ready to start the season. It seems like Ruf would be better off getting those at-bats. Presumably the addition of Byrd makes it less likely Ruf will be spending time in the outfield. Of the 26 non-pitchers on the ’13 Phils, only two had a Baseball-Reference calculated dWAR greater than 0.1. Ruiz was 0.9 and Frandsen was 0.3.
Erik Kratz hit .213 and on-based .280, but with nice power. Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs seem to disagree about how much that was worth, but he seems like a lock to deliver low average and good power again in 2014. Baseball-Reference had him as a good defensive player in 2012 with a dWAR of 0.9, but that dropped to -0.1 in 2013.
Freddy Galvis is still just 24-years-old, but he has a career .269 on-base percentage in the majors to go with his .296 career on-base percentage in the minors. He excelled defensively in 2012, getting 45 starts at second base and tying with Utley for the team lead in Baseball-Reference calculated dWAR at 1.1. That dropped to -0.6 in 2013. He got about the same number of plate appearances in 2012 and 2013 and played about the same number of defensive innings. However, in 2012, he played about 92% of his defensive innings at second, where he was fantastic, posting a FanGraphs calculated UZR/150 at second of 16.3, which was fifth among the 42 players across both leagues that played at least 300 innings at second. In 2013, he played about 37% of his defensive innings at second, 30% at third, 17% in the outfield and 15% at short and his dWAR took a tumble. UZR/150 suggests he was good everywhere defensively in 2013 other than at second base. At second base his mark for UZR/150 in 2013 plunged to -20.2 in his 167 1/3 innings there. It’s a real bad sign for the Phillies when you see him at third or in the outfield as anything other than a defensive replacement.
Darin Ruf had the best isolated power on ’13 Phils for anyone other than Domonic Brown, hitting 14 home runs in 293 plate appearances. He also had the second-best wOBA on the team at .354, second only to Utley’s .356. Thanks to a much better walk rate, Ruf out on-based Brown by .024 despite an average twenty-five points lower. Ruf walked in 11.3% of his plate appearances in 2013, by far the best rate of any Phillie. It wasn’t close. Jimmy Rollins was the unlikely second-place finisher among those with 50 or more plate appearances. Rollins walked in just 8.9% of his chances. The slugging righty Ruf oddly didn’t hit lefties, though, posting a 188/309/348 line against left-handed pitching while pounding away at righties to the tune of 269/363/500. Not hitting lefties is a problem, but not as big a problem as being unusable defensively. Ruf put up a Baseball-Reference calculated dWAR of -1.8, which is remarkable for a lot of reasons, one of which is that he played far from a full season of defense. There were only seven NL players to tally a worse dWAR in 2013 (two of them, John Mayberry and Michael Young, played for the Phillies). Ruf appeared in just 47 games in the outfield and 37 at first base, but it’s pretty much unanimous he wasn’t good anywhere. FanGraphs has him bad at first (UZR/150 of -6.3), worse in left (-12.6) and terrible in right (-34.9). There were 59 players across both leagues who played at least 200 innings in right field in 2013 — Ruf’s -34.9 was 58th, better only than Scott Hairston. It seems likely that Ruf will hit lefties going forward. If he does and continues to hit righties like he has and draw walks like he has, he could be a very good offensive player. Just how bad he’s going to be defensively is the big question, though, and last year’s results weren’t good. The question may still be open, but part of the answer is that he doesn’t have much of a chance if he’s going to be both a butcher defensively and not hit lefties. If Howard is out to start the year and the choices at first for the Phillies are Frandsen, Mayberry and Ruf, I think the best choice for the Phils is to play Ruf everyday. When Howard is available, it may be the case that it’s in the best interests of the Phillies to platoon Ruf and Howard at first base. If you were to look solely at the numbers from the last two seasons, you might conclude that Frandsen is a better platoon partner for Howard. Frandsen is the better defensively of the two and has been way better against left-handed pitching, but I think that would be a mistake.
Not hitting lefties was a fluke, being terrible defensively wasn’t, but it’s too early to give up on Ruf. Second-best isolated power on the team, best walk rate on the team by a wide margin. Hit righties well enough and wound up with solid numbers overall despite not hitting lefties and hitting 216/314/407 over his last 188 plate appearances. He either needs to improve enormously defensively or the Phillies need to find a way to prevent him from hurting them with his glove. I think there are only two ways for the Phillies to prevent him from hurting them enormously with his glove — one is not playing him at all defensively and the other is playing him at first base.
Cody Asche arrived on the Phillie scene in 2013, hitting 235/302/389 in 179 plate appearances and 255/328/428 in his last 161 after going 1-for-17 to start his career. The Phillies seem likely to rely on him heavily at third this year — the other choices at this point look like Galvis, Cesar Hernandez or Frandsen. Frandsen can’t be both at third and at first against a lefty and the Phils sure seemed unwilling to use him defensively at third in 2013. Galvis isn’t a third baseman, although his offensive numbers have been a little better against lefties than righties early in his career. Hernandez on-based .292 against lefties in 2013 with one extra-base hit, a double, in 44 plate appearances. I think the Phils are better off giving Asche a chance if those are the choices. He didn’t overwhelm with the bat during 2013, but a lot of his negative bWAR and 0.0 fWAR can be chalked up to less than stellar defense at third. Baseball-Reference calculated his dWAR at -0.7 while FanGraphs had his UZR/150 at third at -10.6.
23-year-old Cesar Hernandez was used in an unexpected way in 2013, thrust into role of starting center fielder for 22 games, an odd choice for someone you’d think was trying to carve out a role as a backup infielder. Offensively it’s a little tough to feel like the switch-hitter Hernandez has a chance to be more of a high average guy who draws an average amount of walks given his 11 home runs in 2,385 career minor league plate appearances. He did fare well against righties in limited time, putting up a 308/372/372 line with the expected lack of power. dWAR killed his overall bWAR, though. -0.4 dWAR by Baseball-Reference despite just 257 1/3 innings for the year, about 74% of which were in center. FanGraphs has him miserable at both positions as well, although it was in limited time. -19.2 UZR/150 at second and -25.8 in center. Hernandez, Roger Bernadina, Michael Martinez and Mayberry all put up a UZR/150 worse than -25 in center for the Phils in 2013. That should be on the to-do list somewhere, even if all the list says is not to use Hernandez, Mayberry or Martinez in center.
Mayberry is the final name on the list, coming off of a year in which he was bad offensively and terrible defensively. He posted a 227/286/391 line overall and didn’t even hit lefties. He showed solid power against left-handed pitching, but without hits or walks and a 240/296/460 line. The Phillies continue to use him in center, he started 41 games there in 2013, despite the fact that he’s miserable there. Only four NL players had a dWAR worse than his -2.1 in 2013. FanGraphs gives him a negative UZR/150 in center for the fourth consecutive year. In 2013, he was at -28.8 in his 344 innings in center field, which is 42nd of the 43 NL players to play at least 300 innings at the position this season. He was good defensively in right and in left in 2013 and his best chance to be a positive contributor seems to be as a corner outfielder who hits primarily against left-handed pitching.
The Phillies signed 37-year-old right-handed reliever Shawn Camp to a minor league deal. It seems like he should have a chance to make the team out of spring training and pitch in middle relief. He was terrible for the Cubs in 26 appearances in 2013, throwing to a 7.04 ERA, but had been pretty solid in each of the five previous seasons. From 2008 to 2012, Camp threw to a 3.62 ERA and a 1.32 ratio over 335 1/3 innings in 316 appearances with the Cubs and Blue Jays.