Tag: Shane Victorino

You’ve come a long way in the wrong direction, baby

Phillies fans spend much of their time these days thinking about how to improve the offense. That’s always a good idea. But if you compare what the Phillies did in 2011 to what they did in 2012, it seems clear that pitching accounts for the massive drop.

So shouldn’t the Phillies be focusing on their pitching?

It seems like the answer is almost surely no. If the value of the position players stays about the same, the pitching is going to have to be extraordinary for the Phillies to return to their recent levels of regular season success. And the pitching is never, ever going to be as good as it was in 2011. In both 2011 and 2012, the team’s hitters were far from exceptional — by combined bWAR for all hitters, the Phils were ninth in the NL in 2012 and eighth in 2011. In 2011, the pitching was so enormously fantastic the Phils were able to dominate the regular season anyway. In 2012, the overall contribution of the position players was about the same as it was in 2011 — the pitching just wasn’t elite in a way that allowed the Phillies to overcome it.

Not only is the pitching not going to be as fantastic as it was in 2011, it probably isn’t going to be as fantastic as it was in 2010. The combined WAR for Phillie pitchers in 2010 was 21.2. Over the past 20 years, other than 2011, the closest the Phillies have gotten to the 21.2 mark was 2006 when their pitchers combined to post a bWAR of 14.8.

Of course, for a lot (18) of the past 20 years, the Phillies didn’t have Halladay, Lee and Hamels atop their rotation. In 1997, for example, Mark Leiter, Matt Beach, Tyler Green and Calvin Maduro combined to make 82 starts for the Phillies, throwing to a 5.61 ERA combined as the Phillies put up a combined WAR for their pitchers of 1.6. Those days are mercifully gone, but in 2012 the Phils gave 86 starts to Halladay, Lee and Hamels and that didn’t turn out real well either.

Given that the pitching is never going back to where it was in 2011, the Phillies are going to need to have both their position players and pitchers improve if they want to retake their position among the elite teams in the NL.

Just how far do they have to go? Really, really far. At least if you look at WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference.

The table below shows the WAR for hitters and pitchers for the NL teams that won the most games in each of the last five years (the 2012 Phillies are also included, despite not being close to one of the four best teams in the NL last year):

W bWAR H bWAR P H+P
2012 WAS 98 20.6 20.2 40.8
CIN 97 14.3 26.4 40.7
SF 94 28.9 5.5 34.4
ATL 94 23.2 11.7 34.9
(PHI) 81 15 10.8 25.8
2011 PHI 102 14.2 35.2 49.4
MIL 96 23.7 14.6 38.3
ARI 94 23.6 7.3 30.9
STL 90 24.4 9.4 33.8
2010 PHI 97 21.3 21.2 42.5
SF 92 20.8 19.5 40.3
CIN 91 29.5 8.1 37.6
ATL 91 22.8 15.4 38.2
2009 LAD 95 27.1 17.6 44.7
PHI 93 26.3 10.2 36.5
COL 92 17.8 17.9 35.7
STL 91 22.4 14.9 37.3
2008 CHC 97 18.9 26.9 45.8
PHI 92 27.3 11.1 38.4
MIL 90 24.3 13.6 37.9
NYM 89 23.1 12.6 35.7

So, for example, in 2012, the hitters for the Phillies accumulated a total bWAR of 15.0 and the pitchers accumulated a total bWAR of 10.8. If you add them together they total 25.8 — significantly worse than the total for the NL’s fourth-best team by wins, Atlanta (34.9), the third-best team the Giants (34.4), the second-best team the Reds (40.7) or 98-win Nats (40.8).

The 25.8 mark was also hugely worse than the 2011 Phils (49.4).

Again, if you look at the bWAR H column, Baseball-Reference’s calculation suggests that the total WAR for the Phillie position players in 2012 was better than the total WAR for the Phillie position players in 2011.

Over the last five years, here are the average bWAR for hitters and for pitchers for the teams who have won the most, second-most, third-most and fourth-most games in the NL:

Avg bWAR H Avg bWAR P H+P
#1 20.42 24.22 44.64
#2 22.48 16.36 38.84
#3 24.82 10.48 35.3
#4 23.18 12.8 35.98
Actual bWAR H Actual bWAR P H+P
PHI 2012 15 10.8 25.8
PHI 2011 14.2 35.2 49.4
PHI 2010 21.3 21.2 42.5
PHI 2009 26.3 10.2 36.5
PHI 2008 27.3 11.1 38.4

So that suggests to get to the level of the fourth-best team in the NL over the past five seasons, the Phillies would need to add a little more than ten WAR between their hitters and pitchers to their 2012 marks.

That’s a lot.

Important to note is that in 2010, when the Phillies were great, the total WAR for their pitchers was 21.2, which is the second-highest mark for the team in the past 20 years behind only the 35.2 from 2011. I believe you have to go back to 1983 to find a year (other than 2011) in which the combined bWAR for Phillie pitchers was better than 21.2. In 1983, John Denny won the Cy Young for the Phils, Steve Carlton was very good in 37 starts and Kevin Gross and Charles Hudson were both pretty good. Al Holland finished sixth in Cy Young voting pitching out of the pen.

None of that is the real point, though. The real point is that even in 2010, when the pitching was fantastic, the best it had been since 1983, the Phillies still got 21.3 combined WAR from their position players, which is a whole lot more than they got in either of the last two seasons. It’s also a whole lot more than they’re going to get in 2013 without significant additions among the position players.

This suggests that the Angels are close to signing Ryan Madson and that Madson will close for the Angels.

This suggests there are seven teams interested in Shane Victorino. The Phillies are not on the list. It is surprising to me if the Phillies are not interested in bringing Victorino back.

The Phillies signed right-handed pitcher Brian Erbe to a minor league deal. Erbe made Baseball America’s list of top 100 prospects before the 2007 (#76), but has been awful in the minors over the last three years, throwing to a 6.13 ERA over 108 2/3 innings. He missed much of the 2011 season after surgery for a torn labrum and turns 25 next month.

Update: This says Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for 25 games after testing positive for an Amphetamine.


So at least somebody in town has a running game

Last week’s posts were about things the Phillies used to be great at, outfield defense and outfield offense, and suddenly aren’t. Today’s is about base running — something the Phillies have been great at in recent history, but were just pretty good at in 2012.

Here’s the base running total (runs above average) for the Phillies over the past six years as calculated by FanGraphs and how it compares to the other MLB teams (base running includes stolen bases and caught stealing, while UBR does not):

Year Base running MLB Rank
2007 16.0 1
2008 17.8 1
2009 11.6 5
2010 4.4 10
2011 -1.4 15
2012 4.5 11

So the Phils were best in baseball at the statistic in 2007 and 2008. They had dropped to the middle of the pack in 2011, but came back a little to eleventh across both leagues in 2012.

In 2007, across all players in both leagues, the Phillies had two players in the top 20 in base running. Rollins was second at 11.2 and Victorino was 18th at 6.9.

In 2008, they led the league again in the category with two guys in the top ten. Rollins was third at 10.5 and Victorino ninth at 8.4.

Victorino isn’t on the team anymore, but Jimmy Rollins can’t shoulder much of the blame for the Phillies’s drop from their spot as the best team in baseball in the category. In 2012, Rollins’s 8.3 base running runs above average was second best among all players in baseball, behind only Mike Trout of the Angels.

Juan Pierre appears to be headed to the Marlins on a one-year, $1.6 million deal.

Darin Ruf homered yesterday, giving him ten home runs in 120 at-bats in Venezuela. This article suggests he probably won’t hit ten more to tie the league record, cause he’s headed back to the US later this week and probably won’t return to the league for the second half.

This suggests that BJ Upton, who has already visited the Phillies and Braves, will also visit at least three other teams, which may include the Nationals and Giants. Rotoworld suggests Upton is likely to get about five years and $75 million. If he gets it from the Phillies, let’s hope he proves to be a whole lot better than Shane Victorino, who seems likely to get a lot less than five years, $75 million.


Whoa boy

The last post suggested that the outfield defense for the Phillies has gotten really bad over the last three years, at least as measured by FanGraph’s UZR/150. Offensively, the Phillies have been really good in the outfield compared to the rest of baseball in recent years, at least until 2012, when things took a hard turn in the wrong direction. Here’s the wOBA for Phillie outfielders over the last eight years as calculated by FanGraphs as well as the rank of that mark among teams across both leagues:

Year wOBA MLB Rank
2005 .366 1
2006 .353 T-4
2007 .371 1
2008 .343 12
2009 .359 3
2010 .352 5
2011 .342 5
2012 .320 T-18

So, coming into 2012, in six of the last seven seasons, Phillie outfielders had combined to be in the top five among all MLB teams in wOBA. This year they finished in a three-way tie for 18th with the Cubs and Padres.

The Phillies led the league in wOBA for outfielders in 2005 and again in 2007. Abreu led the way in ’05, posting a wOBA of .379 over 719 plate appearances. Burrell was also very good offensively at .384 over his 669 plate appearances. Jason Michaels (.362 over 343) and Kenny Lofton (.359 over 406) were each surpisingly effective offensively that year. Burrell led the way in ’07, putting up a FanGraphs calculated wOBA of .392 in 684 plate appearances. Rowand was fantastic that year as well — .384 over 598 plate appearances. Werth got just 302 plate appearances with the Phillies, but put up an impressive .382 wOBA mark with the team.

Since 2007, the Phillies haven’t led all of baseball in the category. They had been in the top five of MLB teams in three of the past four years coming in to 2012.

In 2012, Hunter Pence was the only outfielder for the Phillies to get at least 50 plate appearances and put up a wOBA better than .320. Here’s how the outfielders looked from top to bottom for 2012 wOBA:

Player PA wOBA
Pence 440 .340
Pierre 439 .320
Nix 127 .317
Victorino 431 .317
Brown 212 .309
Schierholtz 73 .306
Mayberry 479 .303

Mayberry has to take a lot of the blame for dragging down the wOBA for the group in 2012. His wOBA of .303 was 137th of 171 players across both leagues with at least 450 plate appearances and way off of his 2011 pace of .368. In 183 more plate appearances than he had in ’11, Mayberry homered one less time.

Domonic Brown didn’t fare much better at .309. He did get a lot less chances to do much damage, though, with just 212 plate appearances. He wound up with numbers a little bit worse than his 2011 stats, in just about the same number of at-bats (210 plate appearances in 2011 and 212 in 2012). He’s hitting .196 against lefties for his career, which is going to be a problem if the Phillies want to play him every day.

Like Mayberry, Victorino got a ton of plate appearances for the Phillies and was pretty bad with the bat, putting up a wOBA of .317, which was a huge drop from his .368 mark in 2011 and well below career mark of .338. Between 2008 and 2011, Vicotorino was above .350 in three different seasons. Mayberry and Victorino posted the same .368 wOBA in 2011 and both were awful offensively for the Phillies in 2012.

Pierre’s .320 was his second-best mark since the end of his 2004 season with the Marlins. He ended the year just above his career mark of .317. In his 13-year career, he’s posted an OPS+ better than 100 just twice. 2012 with the Phillies wasn’t one of those times as he finished at 95. He didn’t get a lot of chances against lefties, just 69 plate appearances for the year, but the ones he got didn’t go very well as he went 12-for-63 (.190) with 12 singles and one walk.

Pence’s .340 was off his career mark of .352 and he ended the year overall at .323 after hitting .219 for the Giants in 248 plate appearances. .323 was the worst wOBA of his career.

So. The Phillies were bad. They had five outfielders get at least 200 plate appearances in 2012 and three of them (Victorino, Pence, Pierre) are gone. Of the other two, one, Mayberry, was terrible last year offensively and the other, Brown, has been bad offensively for two years straight. Ruf is certainly a big unknown with upside in terms of what he can do offensively, but the other two guys, lefties Nix and Schierholtz, aren’t. Schierholtz’s career wOBA of .315 isn’t likely to lead the Phillies much of anywhere and I’m not sure you want to put that many eggs in Nix’s career .307 basket either.

This suggests Torii Hunter has reached a two-year, $26 million agreement with the Tigers.

Ken Rosenthal tweets the Phillies met with BJ Upton earlier this week. Upton visited Atlanta yesterday and can’t wait to see how this all pans out.


They coulda been a contender . . . oh wait, they were a contender

Not long ago, the Phillies were pretty good defensively in the outfield compared to the rest of baseball. Not so much anymore. Here’s the UZR/150 for all Phillie outfielders combined for the last six seasons as calculated by FanGraphs and how it compares to teams across both leagues:

Year UZR/150 all PHI OF Rank MLB
2007 4.1 8
2008 8.0 7
2009 0.7 13
2010 -5.5 25
2011 -8.4 28
2012 -4.8 25

So, from 2007 through 2009, the Phillies were in the top half of teams defensively in the outfield across both leagues by UZR/150. Over the last three years they have been no better than 25th.

There’s only 30 teams out there, so being 25th or worse for three straight years counts as a problem. It’s arguable that the Phillies have had the worst outfield defense in baseball over the past three seasons. It’s kind of a pick ‘em between the Phils, Orioles and Mets.

Notably, ugly outfield defense or not, the Phillies went 199-125 in 2010 and 2011 combined. I think it’s safe to say they were good at other things.

Using Baseball-Reference’s dWAR, only twice in the past three seasons have the Phillies had a player who both played at least 100 outfield innings for the team in a season and posted a dWAR greater than zero for the year. Victorino did it both times, putting up a 0.5 in 1,150 innings in 2011 after putting up a 0.4 in 1,265 innings in 2010.

In 2007, Victorino (16.6 UZR/150 in the outfield, mostly right), Bourn (22.9 in about 300 innings, about 200 of which were in left) and Werth (30.5 in 446 innings in right, 127 2/3 innings in left and two in center) were all outstanding defensively. Rowand played more than 94% of the defensive innings in center field and posted UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.5. Burrell played just over 70% of the innings in left, dragging down the numbers for the team overall with his UZR/150 in the outfield of -29.6. Despite that they were still eighth-best in the category among all MLB teams.

In 2008, Victorino moved over from right, where he had been very good defensively, to center. He was very good there as well, playing about 82.5% of the innings in center with an UZR/150 in the outfield for the year of 5.8 — a little better than Rowand’s 4.5 from 2007. Werth and Jenkins combined to get about 90% of the innings in right in 2008 and were good defensively. Werth was great with an outfield UZR/150 mark of 28.5. Jenkins was very good, too, playing to an UZR/150 of 15.2 in 642 outfield innings. Burrell continued to be the guy in left, playing about 83% of the innings there. He was still bad defensively, -12.3 in the outfield for the year, but that was still a big improvement over his 2007 mark of -29.6. Overall, by UZR/150, the Phillies popped up to seventh-best across both leagues, their best mark for the six seasons presented in the table above.

In 2009, their UZR/150 dropped from 8.0 in the previous year to 0.7. Jenkins was gone and so was Burrell. The Phillies went Ibanez, Victorino and Werth from left to right on most days. Ibanez was a big improvement over Burrell in left, at least as calculated by UZR/150. He played about 77% of the innings in left and posted an UZR/150 for the year of 4.9 in the outfield, which was a huge improvement over the big negative numbers Burrell had put up in the two previous seasons. Victorino manned center and his numbers were way down as he oddly posted a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -5.6, which was, by far, the worst mark of his career. UZR/150 suggests that Werth didn’t have nearly the impact defensively he had in the two previous seasons, but he still put up a solid 4.4 for the year in the outfield. Overall, thanks to the replacement of Burrell with Ibanez, the Phillies had a huge change to improve on their overall numbers from 2008. Didn’t work out that way as both Victorino and Werth played a lot of innings and each found themselves off their pace from the previous year.

Things got worse in 2010 as the Phils dropped from thirteenth all the way to twenty-fifth. They still primarily went Ibanez, Victorino, Werth left to right. Victorino improved on his 2009 number, up to 2.8 for the year in his 1,265 1/3 outfield innings. But Werth and Ibanez were both worse. After five straight years of at least 575 outfield innings with an UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.4 or better, Werth’s UZR/150 in the outfield plunged to -7.8 over 1,342 innings. Ibanez, who had posted a 4.9 in 2009, saw his mark drop to -7.2. For the year, Victorino improved on his ’09 numbers, but Ibanez and Werth both saw theirs take a huge dive. The Phillies wound up near the bottom of the league in UZR/150 for their outfielders as a result.

2011 was a nightmare defensively for the Phillies in the outfield, the worst year of the six as their UZR/150 for all outfielders dropped to 28th in the league. Only the Mets and Orioles were worse — notably, the Mets were worse in large part because Angel Pagan was their center fielder and he was awful, posting a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -16.1. Ibanez was still the primary guy for the Phils in left and Victorino in center. Victorino was still good, putting up a 5.7 UZR/150 for the season. Ibanez went from real bad, -7.2, to terrible, posting a Burrell-like -21.8. Right field was shared by three guys in Pence, Brown and Francisco, all of who ended the year having played about 30% of the innings for the Phillies defensively in right. Pence played about 32.7%, Brown 30.5% and Francisco 30.1%. Pence was very good defensively for the Phils when he played, putting up an 8.6 for the year with the team. Brown and Francisco were both terrible — Brown’s mark for the year was -26.0 and Francisco’s was -16.1. For the season, Ibanez was terrible in left, Victorino solid in center and Pence, Brown and Francisco split right almost equally, with Brown and Francisco being atrocious while Pence was very good. Put it all together and the Phils were the 28th-best team in the league for UZR/150 in the outfield.

Things were still atrocious in 2012, if slightly improved from the two previous seasons. Pierre was the primary guy in left, getting about 55% of the innings. He was backed up by Mayberry, who got about 23% of the innings at the position. Pierre put up a better-than-expected mark of -0.4 and Mayberry was solid when playing left with a 5.4. Victorino was the primary guy in center until he was traded. He wound up playing about 60% of the team’s innings in center field for the season and posting an UZR/150 of 0.9. Mayberry took over the gig after Victorino was traded and was terrible, posting a -20.7 UZR/150 in center in 474 1/3 innings. Pence played most of the innings in right field for the Phils in 2012, about 62%, and was awful in right when he did play, posting an UZR/150 with the Phils of -13.5, well off his 2011 mark. Domonic Brown was the other guy to see a lot of time in right, playing about 21% of the defensive innings at the position. He was significantly better than he was in 2012, but still not good, putting up a UZR/150 of -7.9 for the year.

Looking to 2013, there are still big questions to be answered about the makeup of the Phillie outfield. The Phils appear to have five guys in-house in the mix in Brown, Mayberry, Schierholtz, Nix and Ruf. If you had to pick one of them, most fans would guess that Brown is the player of that group who is likely to play the most defensive outfield innings for the Phils in 2013. And we know he’s been a really bad defensive player so far in his career. I think we also know that Mayberry can put up some ugly defensive numbers in center field — he seems sure to do so if the Phillies give him that opportunity. Schierholtz and Nix have both been pretty good defensively over their careers in the outfield, although neither of them seem likely to see much time in center and it’s a little hard to believe the Phillies think they need to carry both left-handed backup outfielders going in 2013. Ruf is the other guy in that group — if he proves to be a good defensive outfielder in the majors it’s going to surprise a lot of people.

The Phillies finalized a one-year, $850,000 deal with Kevin Frandsen.

Many Marlins appear to be on the move to Toronto, including Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

This suggests that Amaro kind of wishes that Ruf would have had more of an opportunity to play at the end of the year, but that Amaro understands Manuel playing Juan Pierre instead. Not sure I completely believe all of that.

At least now the Phillies have a good idea what Juan Pierre brings to the table.

It will be pretty interesting to see if Ruf can play left field — I think he’s going to get some chances to do so with the Phillies in 2013. I’m guessing he can’t in a think Pat Burrell kind of way. So let’s hope for 51 more home runs.


Top ten reasons the Phillies should get some new outfielders

Here are the best seasons for Phillie outfielders by total WAR as measured Baseball-Reference over the past ten years (2003-2012) as well as their NL rank for bWAR for hitters in that season:

Player Year bWAR bWAR rank NL batters
1 Abreu 2004 6.3 8
2 Victorino 2011 5.2 9
3 Abreu 2003 5.2 10
4 Rowand 2007 4.8 12
5 Werth 2010 4.3 17
6 Werth 2009 4.2 15
6 Victorino 2008 4.2 T-17
8 Werth 2008 3.6 T-23
9 Victorino 2009 3.5 T-23
10 Burrell 2005 3.4 T-26
10 Lofton 2005 3.4 T-26
10 Abreu 2005 3.4 T-26

Thanks to a three-way tie for the tenth spot, 12 different seasons appear on the list. Werth, Abreu and Victorino all appear three times each and Rowand, Burrell and Lofton each appear once.

Two of the top three seasons in which a Phillie outfielder has posted a bWAR better than 4.8 came a long time ago — two of the top three spots belong to Bobby Abreu and his ’03 and ’04 seasons.

Comparing that list to Friday’s post about potentially available center fielders, you’ll see there are a number of players whose 2012 season would have had them on the list had they been playing for the Phillies and put up the same bWAR. They include:

  • Michael Bourn’s 6.0 would have been second-best of any Phillie outfielder in the past ten seasons
  • Torii Hunter’s 5.2 would have also been second-best
  • Melky Cabrera’s 4.7 would have been fifth-best
  • Curtis Granderson’s 4.1 would have been eighth-best
  • Angel Pagan’s 4.0 would also have been eighth-best
  • Josh Hamilton’s 3.4 would have tied him for tenth-best

It seems like there may be a case to be made that the Phillies really haven’t had their share of monster bWAR seasons from their outfielders over the past ten years. For example, over the last ten years, the Phillies have had three seasons in which an outfield posted a bWAR better than 4.8. The Braves had three outfielders do it last year in Bourn (6.0), Heyward (5.5) and Prado (5.4).

This suggests that the Phillies are in talks with Cody Ross and that Ross is looking for $25 million over three years. This should work out great if the Phils can just convince everyone to replay the 2010 NLCS and get Ross to put up a 1.385 OPS for them instead of the Giants.

This suggests that issues between the Phillies and Scott Boras stemming from last year’s negotiations around Ryan Madson could impact a potential deal for Michael Bourn, a Boras client.

The article linked above suggests that Amaro said the backup catcher’s job is Erik Kratz’s to lose.

This article mentions the Phillies as a possible fit for Torri Hunter. This suggests the Dodgers are no longer pursuing Hunter.

This suggests the Phillies might be willing to pay Josh Hamilton the amount of money he wants, but not for the number of years he wants.


And not just that, some of those guys haven’t even ever been on Hawaii Five-0

More today on eight of the potential center fielders whose names will be thrown about this off-season as the Phillies try to finalize their outfield. The table below shows their Baseball-Reference calculated oWAR per 600 plate appearances over the past three years and over their career as well as their FanGraphs calculated UZR/150 at center for their career and for any of the last three seasons in which they played at least 500 innings in center:

2010-2012 Career Career 2012 2011 2010
oWAR per 600 PA oWAR per 600 PA UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF UZR/150 CF
Hamilton 5.19 4.51 -9.6 -26.3 <500 <500
Hunter 3.70 2.84 -0.5 <500 <500 -6.4
Upton 3.09 2.81 3.9 -3.2 1.6 1.9
Pagan 2.99 2.65 -0.8 -0.1 -16.1 13.3
Victorino 2.15 2.57 3.1 -2.4 5.7 2.8
Bourn 2.51 2.01 10.7 22.5 -6.2 20.6
Cabrera 3.22 1.97 -7.3 <500 -9.7 -25.2
Mayberry 1.75 1.56 -15.9 <500 <500 <500

Hamilton, Hunter, Cabrera and Mayberry really shouldn’t be getting too many defensive innings in center field.

Hunter has only played 8 2/3 innings in center field since the end of 2010. From 2006 to 2010, he played at least 800 innings in center field for five straight seasons, posting a negative UZR/150 at the position in each of the five seasons.

Hamilton sure can hit, but he’s posted a negative dWAR in four of the last five seasons. His career UZR/150 in left of 8.5 is a whole lot better than his career UZR/150 of -9.6 in center. Last year he put up a -26.3 in 687 innings in center for the Rangers.

Mayberry’s UZR/150 in center last year was -20.7.

Cabrera didn’t play an inning in center field in 2012, making 106 appearances in left for the Giants and 11 in right. He was bad defensively for the Royals in 1,265 2/3 innings in center in 2011 and terrible for the Braves in 385 innings in 2010.

Cabrera’s offensive production over the last three years is a lot better than it has been for his career. 3.22 oWAR per 600 plate appearances for the last three years, 1.97 for his career and 0.98 for his career before the start of the 2010 season. For 2005 to 2009, Cabrera got 2,148 plate appearances in which he combined for a total oWAR of 3.5 ((3.5/2148)*600=0.98).

Hamilton and Hunter could obviously help the Phillies at a corner outfield position, which is a place where the Phillies could use some help. I think that’s really, really unlikely given the combination of how much they are going to cost and the presence of Brown, Ruf, Schierholtz, Mayberry and Nix.

Bourn is the best defensive center fielder of this group by a wide margin. Upton and Victorino are way behind him. Pagan may have the strangest UZR/150 numbers of the group — he was great for the Mets in center in 2010, terrible for the Mets in center in 2011 and then put up a -0.1 for the Giants in 2012.

Compared to the previous post, Upton looks like a much better offensive player than Michael Bourn. The previous post looked at the numbers for four years, 2009 through 2012, while the first oWAR column in the table above reports on three years, 2010 through 2012. In 2009, Bourn hit 285/354/384 in his best offensive season in the last four years while Upton had his worst offensive season of the last four years, posting a 241/313/373 line.

Bourn’s career .201 oWAR per 600 plate appearances is a little frightening. He was just miserable offensively from 2006 to 2008, hitting 237/299/313 over 658 plate appearances for the Phils and Astros. Since the end of 2008, his oWAR per 600 plate appearances has been 2.66 over 2,708 plate appearances.

Here are the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs calculations of total WAR for the last three years for each of the eight players:

bWAR ’12 bWAR ’11 bWAR ’10 bWAR ’10-’12 fWAR ’12 fWAR ’11 fWAR ’10 fWAR ’10-12
Hamilton 3.4 3.5 8.4 15.3 4.4 4.1 8.4 16.9
Hunter 5.5 3.4 2.7 11.6 5.3 2.6 3.7 11.6
Upton 2.6 2.8 1.0 6.4 3.3 4.1 4.1 11.5
Pagan 4.0 1.0 5.1 10.1 4.8 0.9 5.4 11.1
Victorino 2.4 5.2 2.8 10.4 3.3 5.9 3.8 13.0
Bourn 6.0 3.0 5.3 14.3 6.4 4.1 4.7 15.2
Cabrera 4.7 4.1 -0.5 8.3 4.6 4.2 -1.1 7.7
Mayberry 0.5 1.6 0.2 2.3 0.4 2.5 0.2 3.1

So here’s how the list of cumulative WAR over the past three seasons for those eight players goes using Baseball-Reference’s calculation:

  1. Hamilton, 15.3
  2. Bourn, 14.3
  3. Hunter, 11.6
  4. Victorino, 10.4
  5. Pagan, 10.1
  6. Cabrera, 8.3
  7. Upton, 6.4
  8. Mayberry, 2.3

And here’s the list using the FanGraphs calculation of WAR:

  1. Hamilton, 16.9
  2. Bourn, 15.2
  3. Victorino, 13.2
  4. Hunter, 11.6
  5. Upton, 11.5
  6. Pagan, 11.1
  7. Cabrera, 7.7
  8. Mayberry, 3.1

Those lists have some things in common:

  • Using both the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs calculation, Hamilton is first, Bourn is second and Mayberry is eighth of the eight players in combined WAR for 2010-2012. Mayberry obviously played a lot less than the other seven guys, giving him less chances to accumulate WAR, but I think it’s also relevant that top table shows him at the bottom on oWAR per 600 plate appearances for the last three years and for his career and with the worst UZR/150 at center for the group
  • Both have Hunter and Victorino third and fourth, with Baseball-Reference showing Hunter ahead of Victorino and vice-versa for FanGraphs
  • Both lists think Victorino had a monster 2011 — his ’11 season is third-best on the FanGraphs list and fourth-best on the Baseball-Reference list
  • Both have Pagan, Cabrera and Upton in slots 5-7 with the players ordered differently. Pagan, Cabrera, Upton for Baseball-Reference and Upton, Pagan, Cabrera for FanGraphs
  • Both agree that the best of the seasons in the last three years was Hamilton’s 2010 and both agree the worst was Cabrera’s 2010

The bottom line for me is that four of those eight guys, Hamilton, Hunter, Cabrera and Mayberry, need to be disqualified from any search for a center field because they aren’t or shouldn’t be center fielders. That leaves four — Bourn, Upton, Pagan and Victorino. Of those four, WAR calculated by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs suggests that, over the last three years, Bourn has been the best overall player and Victorino has been second-best. The sites disagree about Upton and Pagan — FanGraphs has Upton slightly ahead of Pagan in WAR for the three-year period while Baseball-Reference has Pagan with a big advantage over Upton over the last three seasons.

Biggest thing that came out of the post for me is that Shane Victorino might have been a little better than we thought. Sure, it was a little tough to appreciate his greatness while he was hitting 229/296/333 against righties last year, but maybe it was there.


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