Tag: Ty Wigginton

Who else is on first?

So who is going to play first base for the Phils against right-handed pitching while Howard is out? Jim Thome is the obvious answer if he can get onto the field, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of optimism that is going to happen with much regularity. Let’s hope for the best, but I think we have to assume we won’t be seeing much at all of him at first base this year.

So what’s Plan B? Or C or D, for that matter?

Ty Wigginton is the first guy that leaps to mind. But while his career numbers make him look like a solid fill-in against left-handed pitching, his numbers against righties have to make you wary about penciling him in against right-handed pitching too often. Here are Wigginton’s career numbers against lefties and righties as well as the average for NL first basemen in 2011:

PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Wiggonton career vs L 1288 274 353 461 359
Wigginton career vs R 3238 261 313 437 329
2011 NL average 1B 270 350 451 346

The right-handed hitting Wigginton has been significantly better against left-handed pitching than right over his career. His isolated power against lefties and righties has been similar (.187 against lefties and .176 against righties), but he has a lower average against righties and has drawn walks at a much lower rate. Over his career, Wigginton has walked in about 10.5% of his plate appearances against lefties, but only about 6.0% of his plate appearances against righties. The combination of the slightly lower average against righties and the significantly worse walk rate against them adds up to a .313 career on-base percentage against right-handed pitching. And that makes it tough if you want to play first base against righties.

His numbers against righties over the last three years have actually been a little worse than his career numbers. Here’s what he’s done against righties since 2009:

PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2011 vs R 319 235 292 413 310
2010 vs R 476 252 307 436 325
2009 vs R 275 285 313 437 326

Ew.

The .285 he hit against righties with the Orioles in 2009 looks nice, but he also showed the least power of the three seasons that year, posting and isolated power of .154 against righties (.184 in 2010 and .178 in 2011). He hasn’t on-based better than .313 against righties in any of the last three years.

Over the last two seasons, between the Orioles and Rockies, Wigginton has gotten 795 plate appearances in which he has hit 245/301/427 against right-handed pitching. In each of the last three seasons, Wigginton’s wOBA against right-handed pitching has been worse than it was in the previous season. 2008 was probably Wigginton’s best year against righties — he hit 265/322/488 in 311 plate appearances for the Astros that year.

Bottom line for me is that I’m hoping we don’t see a whole lot of Wigginton starting at first against right-handed pitching. If everybody is healthy, the best options against a right-handed starter to me appear to include:

  • The righty Mayberry at first and the lefty Nix in left or vice-versa
  • The lefty Brown in left and Mayberry or Nix, probably the lefty Nix instead of the righty Mayberry, at first

The other bottom line for me is that against a righty you can get two of Nix, Mayberry, Wigginton and Brown (or Pierre) into the lineup between first and left. Of those five players, Nix, Mayberry and Wigginton are the three I would guess are likely to appear at first for the Phils this year. I’d also guess Nix, Mayberry and Brown will appear in left. I’ll look at this more in a future post, but Brown in left and Nix at first against a righty with Howard out seems like the best way to go to me.

This article suggests it was the ’93 Phillies and not Jonah Hill that inspired Moneyball. Or something like that.


Better than average Joel?

Joel Pineiro has a minor league deal with the Phils and there’s a reasonable chance he’ll get some starts with the team during the 2012 season. The 33-year-old righty was solid with the Cardinals and Angels in 2009 and 2010, making 55 starts between the two teams combined and throwing to 3.64 ERA with a 1.18 ratio.

In 2011, though, he had a miserable year with the Angels and finished the season with a 5.13 ERA and a 1.51 ratio. Through 14 starts in ’11 Pineiro sported a 3.90 ERA that hid the true story. He had a 1.43 ratio to go with it, having allowed 106 hits in 90 1/3 innings. Over his last 13 appearances, ten of which were starts, things blew up as he threw to a 7.11 ERA with a 1.63 ratio. In his last 23 appearances on the season, from May 21 to the end of the year, he allowed 160 hits in 118 1/3 innings pitched.

So allowing a ton of hits in 2011 was a big part of the problem for Pineiro. But there were others. Here are his combined numbers for 2009 and 2010 and for 2011 (in 2009 he threw 214 innings with St Louis in the NL, in 2010 152 1/3 with the Angels):

IP ERA Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9
2009-2010 366 1/3 3.64 1.18 9.2 1.5 4.8
2011 145 2/3 5.13 1.51 11.2 2.3 3.8

And here’s what righties and lefties did against him in those two years combined and in 2011:

PA AVG OBP SLG % H % BB % SO % HR % 1B
’09-’10 vs Right 751 273 302 385 25.7 3.1 13.2 1.6 18.9
’09-’10 vs Left 748 258 295 402 24.1 5.1 13.1 1.9 15.5
’09-’10 Total 1499 265 298 393 24.9 4.1 13.1 1.7 17.2
’11 vs Right 298 299 330 448 28.2 4.4 11.4 3.0 20.1
’11 vs Left 333 322 372 474 29.4 7.5 8.4 2.1 20.4
’11 Total 631 311 352 462 28.8 6.0 9.8 2.5 20.3

It’s not on the chart above, but in both 2009 and 2010 combined and in 2011, Pineiro gave up a double or a triple to about 6.0% of the batters he faced. Just about everything else got worse in 2011. Pineiro doesn’t rack up strikeouts, even when he’s pitching well, but his strikeouts were down in ’11. He gave up way more singles, walked a lot more hitters and gave up home runs at a higher rate. The walks were up more dramatically than the hits. Compared to his ’09-’10 numbers, his walks rose at about the same rate against lefties and righties.

Important to remember is that coming into the 2009 season with the Cardinals, Pineiro hadn’t been good for a while. From 2004 to 2008, he pitched for the Mariners, Red Sox and Cardinals, throwing to a 5.34 ERA and a 1.47 ratio. Over those five seasons, he allowed way too many hits, giving up 867 in 741 2/3 innings.

From 2001 to 2003, Pineiro pitched for Seattle and allowed just 431 hits in 481 1/3 innings (8.1 hits per nine). In ’03 he was seventh in the AL in fewest hits allowed per nine at 8.16. That was the end of that, though. From 2004 to 2008, he allowed 10.5 hits per nine innings and he hasn’t allowed fewer than nine hits per nine innings in any year since 2003.

I think the other things to be wary about Pineiro’s recent history are 1) his 2010 season with the Angels wasn’t that fantastic and 2) his 2009 season with the Cardinals was pretty fantastic, but during that year he prevented walks at an outstanding rate he has never matched in his career and likely won’t ever match again.

In 2010 with the Angels, Pineiro threw to an ERA+ of 104. He allowed more than a hit per inning and his walk rate from 2009 jumped.

In 2009, Pineiro walked 27 batters in 214 innings. That’s 1.14 per nine innings and in 2009 he led the NL in the category. By a lot. Arizona’s Dan Haren was second and he allowed 1.49 walks per nine that year.

Pineiro hasn’t been in the top ten in his league in fewest walks per nine innings in any other year of his career. From the start of his career in 2000 through the end of 2008, he walked 7.2% of the batters that he faced. In 2009, he walked 3.1% of the batters he faced. He faced 445 right-handed batters that year and walked ten of them (2.2%). Over the last two years, his walk rate has been down, but nowhere near as low as it was in 2009. He’s walked about 5.7% of the batters he’s faced since the start of the 2010 season and about 4.3% of the righties.

Both sides seem to think that Hamels and the Phillies will discussed a long-term contract during spring training.

In this article, Hamels’s agent suggests that the pitcher’s next contract will reflect his eliteness. Or at least it would if that was a word. The agent also suggests that Jared Weaver left a lot of money on the table in signing his five-year, $85 million deal.

This says that Jeremy Accardo has agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians.

This suggests that Amaro said left field will be a Mayberry/Nix platoon and Brown will start the year in the minors barring a monster spring training.

This suggests that Amaro said Ty Wigginton will be the primary first baseman for the Phils while Howard is out with Thome backing him up.


Look! Closer!

Still on the theme of differences between the 2007 and 2008 teams. One of the differences is that the combination of scoring many fewer runs while hugely improving the bullpen meant that, based on the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, the Phils were playing in closer games in 2008 than they were the year before.

Here’s the number of runs that each of the teams scored in the games that they won and the games that they lost:

Runs scored in wins
Year W R R/G
2007 89 645 7.24
2008 92 587 6.38
       
Runs scored in losses
Year L R R/G
2007 73 247 3.38
2008 70 212 3.03

And here’s the differences in the runs they allowed in games they won and lost:

Runs allowed in wins
Year W RA RA/G
2007 89 304 3.42
2008 92 274 2.98
       
Runs allowed in losses
Year L RA RA/G
2007 73 517 7.08
2008 70 406 5.80

In 2008, the won 92 games and in those games they scored 587 runs and allowed 274 runs. In the 89 games they won in 2007, they scored 58 more runs but allowed 30 more as well.

Not only did the Phillies improvements at preventing runs help them to win more games with fewer runs, it also meant that, going by the average number of runs they scored and allowed, they played in closer games in 2008 than in 2007. Comparing the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, when they lost they lost by less by almost a full run:

In losses

Year AVG Runs
scored
AVG Runs
allowed
Difference
2007 3.38 7.08 3.70
2008 3.03 5.80 2.77

And when the won in 2007, going by the average number of runs, they won by more:

In wins

Year AVG Runs
scored
AVG Runs
allowed
Difference
2007 7.24 3.42 3.82
2008 6.38 2.98 3.40

Todd Zolecki, now writing for MLB.com, reviews the Phillies options as they search for a right-handed hitter now that Ty Wigginton has signed with Baltimore. Options two and three are pretty bad — the Phils could really use a right-handed hitter.


Then again, maybe it is how you start

The Phillies started different players at third base and catcher regularly in 2008. Here is a look at the team’s record in games where they started Feliz or Dobbs at third, remembering that the Phillies went 92-70 overall, which is a .568 winning percentage:

Player GS at 3b W-L PCT
Pedro Feliz 106 63-43 .594
Greg Dobbs 42 21-21 .500

Eric Bruntlett started 13 games at third for the Phils in ’08. The team went 7-6 in those games. Mike Cervenak started the last game of the year at third for the Phils, which the team won.

Except for the last game of the year, which was caught by Lou Marson, Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste split the catching starts in 2008. Ruiz got 92 and Coste 69:

Player GS at C W-L PCT
Carlos Ruiz 92 55-37 .598
Chris Coste 69 36-33 .522

Coste and Ruiz shared the starts with Rod Barajas in 2007 as well, and again the Phillies played to their best winning percentage with Ruiz behind the plate (in ’07 the Phillies went 89-73, which is a .549 winning percentage):

Player GS at C W-L PCT
Carlos Ruiz 100 58-42 .580
Rod Barajas 37 17-20 .459
Chris Coste 25 14-11 .560

Over the last two years, the Phillies are 113-79 (.589 winning percentage) in the games that Ruiz started at catcher and 68-64 (.515) in the games someone else started at catcher.

In all three examples, Feliz in ’08, Ruiz in ’08 and Ruiz in ’07, the team’s winning percentage when starting the better defensive player is better than the team’s winning percentage overall for the season. This could be caused by a whole lot of things other than Pedro Feliz or Carlos Ruiz making the Phillies win when they start. For example, to generalize, I think it’s safe to say that Charlie Manuel starts his better defensive players in games that are started by his better starting pitchers. Ruiz, for example, caught 26 of Hamels’ 33 starts in ’08 and 19 of his 28 starts in 2007. At the same time, the Phillies went 19-14 in the 33 games that Hamels started in 2008. That’s a .576 winning percentage, worse than the .598 winning percentage that the Phillies posted overall in the games started by Ruiz. In ’07, the Phils went 19-9 in the 28 games started by Hamels, a .679 winning percentage that was better than the .580 in the games started by Ruiz.

To speculate further, another factor is surely that Manuel considers Feliz and Ruiz his best players at the position and puts them into games he sees as the ones the Phillies need to win. For that reason, it may be that the presence of Feliz or Ruiz in the lineup reflects that the lineup is stronger overall, because Manuel chose to play what he saw as he best players at all positions and not just third and catcher, rather than cause the lineup to be stronger. Still, that’s a whole lot of wins over the last two years in games that Ruiz started.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that Ruiz’s catching duties actually shrunk slightly last year for the Phils, both in terms of the number of games he started (92 down from 100) and the number of innings he caught (828 down from 912 2/3).

Interview with Charlie Manuel at Beerleaguer.

This article lists Nomar Garciaparra, Ty Wigginton, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Mark Grudzielanek and Kevin Millar as the right-handed hitters the Phillies are interested in. Wigginton would be the prize of that group by a lot and a fantastic fit with the needs of the team. This says that the Orioles are interested in Wigginton, but he wants a two-year deal and Baltimore would prefer to give him one year.


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