The Phillies’ Mediocrity Unique in Readjusted Reality – Phillies Nation

The Phillies’ Mediocrity Unique in Readjusted Reality

Galvis has lead one of the best defenses in baseball. Photo: AP

There is nothing worse for a fan than watching your team lose to a team that is, in every way shape and form on paper, the worse team. While a 2-2 split in a four game set is usually satisfactory for any ball club thousands of miles from home, the Phillies could have, and should have, swept away the lowly Padres. Yet, as Phillies’ fans, we wake up confused and wondering what can be done.

By no means is it time to raise the white flag, but it may be time to reassess what we thought we knew as fans when the season started. Here are few preseason expectations with their corresponding readjusted realities and what that means for the Phillies.

Warning: Reading this may induce banging your head into the wall in frustration and calling into talk radio yelling about the need for “run producers”. The Phils have better than anticipated pitching and defense and are seemingly wasting it. If you read through the end, hopefully I will have convinced you, Phillies Nation reader, that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Expectation 1: The starting rotation is very good and the bullpen is solid.

Readjusted reality: Both the starting rotation and bullpen have been among the tops in the National League.

There was expectation heading into 2012 that the rotation would be very good but not as great as it was at the end of 2010 or for parts of 2011. As fans, we tempered our expectations and realistically adjusted them while considering both Doc Halladay and Cliff Lee‘s ages, the possibility of improvement from Hamels and regression from Worley, and the wild card that is Joe Blanton. Three weeks in and the rotation, and staff as a whole, has delivered more than expected. The staff ranks 4th in baseball in WAR (2.8), trailing only the Nationals (4.1) in the NL. Their ERA (2.41) is good enough for 2nd in the Majors behind only Washington (2.34), are tied for 2nd in HR/9 IP, and are 3rd in the MLB and 2nd in the NL in BB/9 IP. From starter to closer, the Phillies pitching has been nothing short of great and may be the reason early in 2012 that this team has been so frustrating to watch.

When broken up by starters and relievers, Phils starters have posted an incredible 2.29 ERA, good for 2nd in the MLB behind the Nationals 1.82. With some more advanced numbers like Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) from FanGraphs, the Phillies still rank 2nd (2.87 to the Nats’ 2.07). The good news? There is no possible way the Nats can sustain that pace. While  there is almost no chance the Phillies will remain that dominant either, the Nationals will likely face a greater regression as the season progresses despite their obvious upgraded rotation. The Fightins’ ‘pen has posted a 2.78 ERA, good for 4th in the NL but their FIP puts them toward the middle of the pack. The Phils’ relievers have gotten a little luckier than most and may start to stutter a little bit more but this pace probably isn’t anything too out of the ordinary. Expect the starting rotation, including Worley and Blanton, to help the Phils keep the pace toward the top of the NL and the relievers to be middle to tops.

Expectation 2: The Phils will no longer be a viable defensive team. They have no clear left fielder, no clear first baseman, an aging shortstop and third baseman, and a rookie that has never played second base in professional ball.

Readjusted reality: The Phillies are exceptionally good on defense. No, really.

The Phillies made three errors yesterday. So what. Chalk it up to a bad day at the office.

The Phillies rank second in the Majors to the Royals in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), a pace that they likely can maintain. While jokes are a-plenty about the fact that Juan Pierre is the Phils’ starting left fielder in 2012, remember that this team won a World Series with Pat Burrell and made the following year’s World Series with Raul Ibanez in left. Pierre may have a wet newspaper for an arm in left but has played league average defense, which is actually a significant upgrade over Ibanez. The Phillies are also getting exactly neutral value from each of the four players they have played at first base, which is a minor upgrade as well.

One of the biggest, most positive surprises has been the as-advertised defense of Freddy Galvis. Galvis ranks 3rd among all players in the Majors in UZR and leads all second basemen in the category. Jimmy Rollins continues to contribute positively defensively, only trailing Brandon Crawford in UZR in the NL. And not to be ignored, Placido Polanco again paces all NL third basemen in the category.

The best part: None of these improvements are out of left field (a metaphor, as one of the improvements literally is out of left field). The Phillies ranked among the lower half in MLB team UZR last season; with a staff concentrating on throwing ground ball-outs, this sustainable improvement does and could continue to make the pitching staff terrific.

Important update (11:50 AM): Bill Baer at Crashburn Alley has rightly tweeted at me that UZR takes quite some time to stabilize (2-3 years). It is also important to note that 16 games is still a ridiculously small sample-size. Please take these nuggets of information with cautious optimism.

Expectation 3: The Phillies will hit enough extra base hits to score runs OR the Phillies will incorporate small ball in order to win games OR the Phillies will use good base running to win games.

Readjusted reality: The Phillies have not hit extra base hits AND the Phillies have not played small ball AND the Phillies have not ran the bases well

Here is the head-banging inducing reality Phillies’ fans live in: While the pitching staff has exceeded expectations and the defense has been nothing short of incredible, the Phillies are not only not doing all the things they said they would do in the off-season, they are in fact managing to do absolutely none of them.

It is no secret the Phillies have hit for absolutely zero power this year. Just how futile are they? They currently sit in a tie for second-to-last in the Majors in home runs (7) with the Pirates and Astros, just two above the Cubs (5). They are currently only out-pacing the lowly Pirates who, by the way, took two out of three from the Phillies on Opening Weekend. Advanced stats don’t bail them out either: the Phils sit second-to-last in the MLB ahead of only the Pirates in ISO, wOBA and wRC+, too.

When talking about small ball, many folks forget that one of the main ingredients of small ball in addition to base hits, running the bases, and bunting is taking pitches and drawing walks. Does it seem like Hunter Pence always swings at pitches outside the zone or that Ty Wigginton has been taking a hack at whatever the first pitch is? Well, there may be some merit with a hint of confirmation bias in those statements. The Phillies currently lead the Majors in swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone (34% of their swinging strikes are outside the zone), in company with such offensive juggernauts as the Giants, Pirates, and Cubs. Not surprisingly, the Phillies are also amongst the most aggressive teams in the league, swinging at 48.8% pitches they see. Granted, these aggressive swings have netted contact for pitches outside the zone an NL second-best 70.4% but good contact usually is not made when pitches outside of the zone are connected on. All this translates into an MLB-worst 5.1% BB%. You can’t play small ball if there are no base-runners. And while the Phillies have been successful on 13 of 14 stolen base attempts and lead the league in SB%, their base-running has contributed a cumulative -0.1 runs to their “bottom line” this year.

Expectation 4: A much improved Nationals team will contend in the NL East.

Readjusted reality: The Nationals are off to a fast start, are very likely to regress, but will be there in the end.

While there is no immediate solution to the Phillies offensive woes, they likely will not waste this great pitching and defense for that much longer. And it has nothing to do with losing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

The Phillies, over the last three seasons (2009-2011) have been one of the most selective line-ups in baseball. In that time frame, the Phillies only trailed the Yankees and Red Sox in Swing% for lowest amount of swings per pitches seen and trailed only the Rockies as the most selective team (swings at pitches outside of the zone) in the NL in that time frame.

Despite Adam Dunn‘s departure, the Nationals continue to be at or near 10% in the last three seasons and counting in swinging strike%. From 2009-2011, their approach led them to striking out the fourth most in MLB. Their 47-point difference between BABIP and BA indicates that the team has been a little lucky in some of the hits that have fallen and that their .243 BA, only 4 points ahead of the Phillies may not be sustainable. Add to this their unsustainable 1.82 ERA from their starters and it will leave a window for the Phillies, and Braves, Mets, and Marlins, to regroup and catch them. But the window is actually a lot smaller than we originally anticipated.

While all hope is not lost this early in the season, it is important as fans to adjust our reality. There are two brighter-than-anticipated spots, three glaring-weaknesses that may correct positively over time, and a giant elephant in the room from DC that may not go away. 2012 is going to be quite a different season than we, as fans, have grown accustom to. It really is unique for a team to have this good of pitching and such great defense and yet have no offense. Will the return of Howard or Utley correct the problem? Perhaps, but time may be on their side – the Phillies will adjust as the Nats will cool and make the NL East an exciting race.

Click to comment


  1. branderson925

    April 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Pierre is doing just fine. Joking about him starting in LF? Whatever, we’re coming off of three years of Raul in LF. I know he’s not a godsend but he is producing offensively much more than a ton of other guys. Hitting .320+ with 3 SB is not bad.

    That is the least of our worries honestly I know I just wanted to point that out.

  2. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

    It doesn’t shock me at all that the Nats have become a team to watch. I said a year ago that sometime in the next 3-4 years (2-3 years now) that they would contend. So it’s coming a little earlier than I expected but I’m not surprised. And don’t count Davey Johnson out. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s been.

    The Phillies aren’t as bad as they’ve played so far and the Nats aren’t as good. But the Nats will be there and COULD…yes, COULD win the division I suppose. But so could the Phillies, Braves or Marlins. It will be a tough battle in the East.

  3. Manny

    April 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Mediocre is the perfect word to describe what we’ve seen so far from our team this year. But I do believe that once you insert Howard and Utley in the middle of that lineup, even if they’re 60% of their old-selves, the runs will come… and so will the Ws.

    On an optimistic note, this offense has pretty much hit rock-bottom already… it can only go up from here!

    • c schreiber

      April 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      It doesn’t matter if Utley & Howard are at 100% when they come back; if at all. The P’s may get lucky and finish 3rd. If they don’t come back it could be last in division.

  4. George

    April 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I’m not so sure the Phils’ bullpen has been the bright spot it appears to be statistically. The better outings can be attributed mostly to a few pitchers, whereas others, like Bastardo and Stutes, have been really inconsistent. The team has to get to those late inning guys who really shut the door, but unfortunately, the Phils’ middle arms haven’t always done that. They’ve lost more than one game with those secondary arms, and they also seem mostly to lose the extra inning affairs.

    That said, the rest of the team will improve. It’d be hard for them not to. Right now, I believe they’re pressing, putting too much pressure on themselves trying to force things to happen.
    Nobody performs well when they are too tense.

  5. The Original Chuck P

    April 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The reality is that this offense has no identity… been saying it for weeks. We all knew that it would be tougher to score runs but Charlie should have never succumbed to the pressure to be a small ball team because we’re not. Never have been and never will be. In fact, the term small ball makes me want to vomit… swing the bats with confidence and see what happens. Do what needs to be done to help the team win – if that means hitting a fly ball, it means hitting a fly ball. If that means trying to hit a ground ball to the right side to advance a runner, it means hitting a ground friggin ball. Let the players play to their strengths. Stop putting added pressure on them to be something they’re not… you focus on your strengths. The problem really isn’t hitting, in general, it’s timely hitting and extra base hitting. Our starters are hitting .244… which is ok (not great but serviceable) but we are hitting .219 with RISP and haven’t collected a home run with a man on base all season (we have 7 solo shots). We have 19 doubles… guys aren’t swinging with confidence and they’re pressing to do too much which is causing them to swing at pitches out of the zone. Add to that the fact that our reserves have been awful (.143 with 1 RBI and 13 SO in 38 AB)… it’s a funk of epic proportions BUT I still look at this team ex-Howard and Utley and say that things shouldn’t be this bad. Rollins, Polanco, Victorino, Pence, Ruiz, THOME (has to anchor our bench and give us SOMETHING otherwise he’s worthless)… those are all capable major leaguers that have looked incapable so far.

    I am really worried about the Nats… a lot of people thought that their window was still 1-2 years away but they are good enough right now to compete. With a head start, they’re going to be tough to catch. Look at their rotation – Strasburg (ace – as good as it gets), Gio (terrific), Zimmerman (sneaky good), Edwin Jackson (horse… will eat innings to keep the young arms in tact) and Ross Detweiler (the ‘weak link’ has been lights out, sporting a 0.56 ERA). Their lineup – Ramos is a stud, Espinosa is a great ballplayer, Desmond is a good offensive shortstop, Zimmerman is one of the best 3B in the league and Werth is doing what we knew he would do, eventually… drawing walks and collecting hits.

    Listening to Todd Zolecki this morning made me really nervous… he’s the Phillies spin guy (always the optimist) and the positive-spin-crap that is coming out of his mouth right now is complete nonsense. Thome just needs more AB’s (he’ll hit 5th), Utley is going to rejoin the team in Arizona and hopefully, he’ll announce a rehab assignment will begin sometime soon (if that’s not bull-Schmidt, I don’t know what is) and Howard sees his wound specialist and the rehab once he is cleared will be ‘aggressive.’ It’s ugly and that’s before you bring up the Cliff Lee DL stint. Charlie is being forced to tinker to the point where guys aren’t getting enough AB’s in a consistent spot to get comfortable and be successful.

  6. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I’ll take our starting pitching any day of the week over the Nationals (and they are good)… and our bullpen should be fine. The thing is NOBODY really knows when the #3 and #4 hitters are coming back (or IF the #3 guy is at all) and when/if they do what shape are they going to be in. It will take some time for them to get in some kind of “game” form.

    I think if the Phillies can just tread water for right now…the immediate future…things will eventually work themselves out. Mayberry will find his stroke…he’s not this bad. Pence will do his thing and have a big year. Polanco is hitting the ball harder the past few games. Etc,. etc., etc……

    Not saying they will win the division but I still think they are a serious playoff contender.

    • c schreiber

      April 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      You and Manny drank the same spiked kool aid. Didn’t you.

  7. The Original Chuck P

    April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I’d take the Phils rotation, too but the depth of the Nationals rotation makes them scary. Their 4/5 starters should win a lot of games.

    Halladay > Strasburg… by a slim margin.
    Lee > Gonzalez… by a reasonable margin but with Lee on the DL, who knows
    Hamels > Zimmerman… by a reasonable margin
    Vanimal < Jackson… by a slim margin (Worley has the ability to prove me wrong)
    Blanton < Detwiler… small sample size but Detwiler has been good enough to say that I'd take him over Blanton

    Also, given the way our lineup is struggling, it's pretty much a given that you'd give them the edge there. I'm not saying they're better than us but they're certainly too good to overlook especially with a 5 game lead. The division usually comes down to NLE record… beat the teams in the division and it usually takes care of itself. We won't be able to afford losing too many games in the NLE this year.

  8. TheDipsy

    April 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Well, all the stats in the world are nice. How often the lineup swings, how many pitches they take, BIBP, UFRZ, UFO….whatever. Stats are for losers. This lineup is, and always has been, less than the sum of its parts. Its baseball….there are things that happen in the margins that numbers can’t convey. And all this was true with Utley and Howard. Now we just just have a lineup of shitty offensive players that are merely performing to expectations.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      April 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      “…that are merely performing to expectations” = False.

    • schmenkman

      April 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Out of the 11 players getting the most at playing time:

      2 are somewhat above expectations: Wigginton, Pierre

      3 are below: Victorino, Pence, Ruiz

      5 are FAR below: Rollins, Polanco, Mayberry, Nix, Thome

      Maybe you did have these expectations:

      Rollins .254 with no power and no walks
      Pence .258 with little power
      Mayberry .175, no power, no walks
      Nix .176
      Thome 2 singles and 9 Ks, and 2 walks in 18 plate appearances, after hitting .296 with walks (.390 OPB), and power (.479 slugging) last year

      I just don’t know why you would have expected any of that, or more to the point, would expect it to continue.

      • Manny

        April 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        I think you missed the part where he said “stats are for losers.” Lol. Nothing is gonna change his mind..

      • schmenkman

        April 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm

        Holding out hope, Manny. Holding out hope.

        By the way, the above names add to only 10 The 11th is Galvis, and his .568 OPS is not far from what we might have expected before the season started (i.e. something similar to Martinez), but there’s a chance he might improve on that as the season progresses.

      • Jeff Dowder

        April 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        Thome only hit .256 (not .296) last season, but he’s only a problem if he has to be used in the starting lineup – especially considering his glove. He should really only be a late inning pinch hitter and occasional DH with this team.

        Polanco has been on a downward spiral since last April, so he’s not under-performing by that much. He’s in that “rapid decline” phase of his career.

        Most of the Phillies lineup is in some phase of their decline – some obviously further into it than others. If you look solely at three year averages, you need to realize that these guys are for the most part trending downwards. Those numbers don’t exist in a vacuum.

      • schmenkman

        April 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

        Jeff, you’re right, I was looking at his Cleveland stats:
        Cleveland .296/.390/.479
        Overall .256/.361.477

        And yes, they’re in decline, but when I say compared to expectations, I am talking about the various projection systems (e.g. Zips), which do take aging-related decline into account.

        The point is that Polanco, Rollins, Thome, etc. are doing worse than those age-adjusted projections. Is it possible they’re hitting a wall (or a cliff) at the same time? Sure. It’s just not likely.

      • George

        April 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

        They are all trending downward? I don’t think Pence, Mayberry, Ruiz, and Mayberry have been trending that way, and in the case of Pence, it’s probably been the opposite. Even if some of the lineup is heading downhill, that’s usually a slower decline then some of the “fall off a cliff” performances we’ve witnessed so far this season. It’s possible that Thome and Polanco could be collapsing suddenly due to their antiquity (they’re both much older than Rollins or Victorino) but they would likely be the only ones to slip so grossly from their norms even figuring some slippage. The rest of the team should, indeed, be doing better, and probably will.

      • Jeff Dowder

        April 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        George – I didn’t say “all”, I said “most”. It’s a factual statement, just look at the numbers. Of course, Pence & Victorino are most likely to come close to last year’s numbers – they’re still in a bit of a plateau stage . The rest will decline at varying rates.

        You really can’t throw Mayberry into this conversation unless you’re willing to let two months of production override the rest of his past history. I’m not.

      • George

        April 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm

        Okay, okay. Most. Big deal. Pence, Victorino, and Ruiz still constitute more than one third of the lineup (I’m excluding the pitcher because pitchers are always in decline on offense!) Add in Mayberry (despite his poor performance over the past seasons, you can’t really say he’s in decline just because he’s not hitting like those two months you’ve cited, and his age doesn’t fit the “decline years” parameters), and put Galvis in, who also isn’t in decline (maybe he can’t hit well YET), and you’ve got Polanco, Rollins, and a sub or sometimes two. Three players don’t constitute “Most of the Phillies lineup.”

      • Jeff Dowder

        April 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm

        George, we can go around in circles all you want. The majority of the position players are in decline whether you believe it or not. Rollins had a slight bounce back in 2011, but his two previous seasons were nothing special. Polanco hasn’t hit since last April. Guys like Wigginton, Nix, and Pierre are getting significant playing time and they’re borderline major league players at this point. Mayberry is 28 and has had a small amount of success over two months that may never be replicated. If he does, that’s great but his career numbers don’t point to that happening. Even the two guys on the DL have had their OPS drop in three consecutive years (I know you’ll tell me that’s not a trend).

        Why does that “declining” statement even bother you? Being in decline doesn’t mean they can’t be useful players. It just means their best years are in the past.

  9. Lefty

    April 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    The hitting will improve when they let Mick Billmeyer have his binoculars back. 🙂

    • schmenkman

      April 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Lefty, I know you’re kidding, but it’s interesting that they scored 7.6 runs per game in the first 5 games after being warned about it.

      • Lefty

        April 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        Yeah, just kidding. It was my way of saying, I wouldn’t know how to get them out of this funk any better than the cup of coffee on the table next to me would. Or better yet, my way of readjusting my reality. I hope they’ll come out of it soon.

  10. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I’m not a stathead, either. And there is a lot that goes on between the stats ……the ” things that happen in the margins that numbers can’t convey.” But Dipsy, you have to admit that some….not all…. but some numbers tell a story. And those numbers right now tell the story of an underperforming offense that will probably correct itself over time. Question is….will it be too late???

  11. upandaway

    April 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    It appears that Fontenot will join the big club within a week or so. I’m hoping that he provides a spark. He’s a good contact hitter at times, and plays 2b and 3b well. He could spell Polanco, Jimmy (With Galvis sliding over to SS), or Galvis. Sometimes, it just takes one guy to spark a lineup. Let’s hope this unlikely and unassuming utility guy can do just that.

    • c schreiber

      April 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Fontenot ???? Providing a spark ??? He’s a bum. Can’t make the Giants or anyother club but the P’s. As most of you & apparently Amaro are completely anal about non hitting infielders. Jesus Christ!! Fontenot is our savior.

  12. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Seriously?? We’re now gonna get excited about Mike Fontenot???…….????……


    April 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Fact is, we are getting real old as a team real fast. Hardly anyone except for Galvis and Mayberry(29) and Pence (29) under age 30. We need to trade Cole Hamels real soon if we cannot sign him, as we will lose his value completely. We need a couple of young, decent hitters for him, or one proven hitter and one prospect and I think a West Coast team is our best bet, probably the Angels, Dodgers, Rangers or Diamondbacks. Maybe even the Rockies, although I’d hate to see him traded to a NL team.

    I do not think we are going to be a playoff team this year. Yes, I am panic- ridden.

    • Lefty

      April 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      The Rockies work- Troy Tulowotzki? Sign me up.

    • Jeff Dowder

      April 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Bart – You won’t get that much for a rental. Look at the what the Phillies got back from Seattle for Cliff Lee (Gillies, Aumont and Ramirez), and that was for a full season of Lee. Do you think RAJ will get a better return for two or three months of Hamels? I hope so, but don’t see it happening.

    • Lefty

      April 24, 2012 at 7:06 am

      Can’t speak for the original commenter on this one, but I was kidding Jeff D.

      Mets got Zach Wheeler – (high A) pitcher for Beltran. Cole’s youth might bring a little more than that, but not much more. The only question is – would you rather have a pick?

  14. upandaway

    April 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Chuck….Fontenot is capable of hitting above .300 and getting on base. That’s what this offense needs. So, I’d call it guarded optimism.

  15. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I was half kidding about Fontenot. Yeah, sometimes all it takes is a spark from some guy that you wouldn’t expect to be that much of a factor. I guess it’s just weird to be reading something that actually shows enthusiasm for a guy like that. Shows where we are as a fanbase right now…

  16. Andrew from Waldorf

    April 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Scary times. Could be 10 games out by the time Cliff Lee comes back.

    2 complete skell pitchers for the Diamond backs the next 2 nights.
    Will they hit?

    Magic 8 ball says: unlikely

  17. Mazinman

    April 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    What drives me crazy right now is not the Phils struggles but the apparent total inaction from the front office. They are not talking to Hamels or looking into trades. Its like they have decided on inaction until Howard and Utley come back. At least fire the hitting coach so we have some small shred of hope again!

    Ok, I feel a little better after venting.

    • schmenkman

      April 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      We don’t know whether there is anything happening on the Hamels front, there just hasn’t been anything reported.

      I would not want the FO to react to every 16-game slump. These are the horses they picked, they expected them to hit better, and chances are they actually will.

  18. TheDipsy

    April 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Somebody famous said that “stats are for losers”. I just felt like saying it. I know that baseball is ALL ABOUT numbers. Its just that when we micro analyze them sometimes we get fooled, people skew them, manipulate them to prove their own point, blah blah. This offense, and I believe that Utley is NOT coming back nor is Howard going to make a contribution, as presently constituted, stinks. Pence, Vic and Rollins should be numbers 3, 5 and 6 as far as how good your offensive guys are, not 1,2 and 3. They are your three best offensive players and its terrible. Pierre, Galvis, Ruiz, Wigginton….good god. I hate to see 500 ABs out of Ty Wigginton. Schmenkman is an advance stat guy without being obnoxious about it, which I admire, but you can trot out all the ‘what if he hits this %’ and “he’s hit this before’ and the “mean to the reversion’, etc. . The offense has stinky players so its gonna stink.

    I believe that if all these players hit their last 3 year averages in every category, that we will have a bad offense. Its that simple to me.

    If we’re gonna be bad, lets get bad quick so we can move on to the task of retooling.

    The Dipsy

  19. Chuck A.

    April 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    “Schmenkman is an advance stat guy without being obnoxious about it”

    Very true statement and I admire that too. Sometimes some of these sabr geeks take it too far with their “holier-than-thou” attitude towards baseball and it gets tiresome and sickening. I appreciate advanced stats as long as they are not used as the gospel truth when it comes to the game.

    Basically, all the stats out there about our players suggest that they will come out of this at some point and play up to their potential. But, like I said before, will it be too late once that happens??

    Go Phillies!!

  20. schmenkman

    April 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks gents — appreciate it.

    About the “Stats are for losers” quote — it appears to be from Bill Bellichick, as reported here:

    “Everybody can’t have high stats every week,” he told the Web site. “It’s impossible. We can always pick out somebody and say, ‘What happened to them?'”

    The coach made it clear that nobody will ever catch him evaluating his players based on their single-game stats.

    “Stats are for losers,” Belichick said. “The final score is for winners.”

    I like to think that in this case he would say everybody goes through slumps, and you have to take a longer view in evaluating players.

    • EricL

      April 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      What Bill was saying was basically that small sample sizes are stupid to judge players by. Which is actually a mantra of the stats nerds, so make of that you will.

  21. betasigmadeltashag

    April 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I have watched almost all these games on DVR since the begining of the year, and at times it seems that the phillies only hit with two outs and no one on. A few of the loses can be contributed directly to poor play on the defensive side, even last night, the error by Tome at first the missed play by Pence the error by Blanton set up almost all the runs scored. Big Joe pitched ok I thought, but the defense is just not clicking with all the moving parts. I get you are trying to get Thome some at bats, but as much as we all like this guy, he seems a little shot to me, a lot of K’s and maybe he is trying to hard to get on base and think his rep will get him walks. I would rather see JMJ at first. I also think Charlie is thinking to much, he is used to the same guys going out there every day, or at least 7 of them. I really think he needs to get a starting 8 and play themm 5 out of six games for an extended time. Even if it is Pierre in LF and JMJ at first for a week, I think a lot of it is overthinking trying to find a line up, With the exception of maybe resting Chooch, or Poly for a game or two, send the same guys out there for the next two weeks and see what happens

    • George

      April 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      Manuel has been “overthinking” because none of the lineup’s he’s tried have even come close to producing. Another thing is that some of those guys can’t hit righties, and some can’t hit lefties; that’s been proven by all their past stats. So he’s got to at least switch those people.

      Another thing: If you compare Pierre, for instance, with Mayberry, the other left field option, Pierre is a slap hitting speedster, and has to hit in a different lineup spot than the power hitting Mayberry. It’s not as easy as sending the same guys out in the same lineup spots day after day.

  22. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    More than a couple posts ago, there was a poll concerning when to hit the panic button. I will openly admit that I chose not to hit the aforementioned button until the All-Star break; however, the last two games against the Padres were beyond nauseating. That said, I am going to hope and attempt to summon the ghost of Ed Delahanty to try to procure this team some hits with runners-in-scoring-position! However, I do not think it will help us. I am really disappointed in the rut, slump, failure to play to potential offensively, whatever you want to call it, of the majority of our hitters, aging or not. I hope Pence’s recent drop in performance is predicated on the fact that he is trying to make-up for the loss of Utley and Howard and trying too hard. Hoping Shane is just in a little funk, and that Ruiz stays steady. Pierre has been a nice surprise as the lead-off hitter, Wigginton, well is Wigginton, and Glavis has played spectacular defense and gives me hope that he can improve as a hitter. Personally, I love Polly’s defense, but I think he is done. A solid hitter and a veteran, Polly knows how to extinguish a slump, but his performance, including his injury-riddled season last year, is abysmal by his standards. When the hell is Junior waking up?! His swing looks different this year, and he looks lost at the plate. Finally, Gentlemen Jim, a fan favorite and future Hall of Famer. JIm was a great player, but should retire gracefully, like Schmidt did. He is getting crushed at the plate rather than getting any wood on the ball. I know he was only brought in as a late-inning pinch hitter, but that looks shaky for him. I would rather they had signed him as the hitting coach. I like Gross as a player, but as a hitting coach he is horrible! He remarked recently that he leaves the veterans and their swings alone. Really?! I do not buy that , “I can’t change my swing” crap. Any player that seeks to improve will constantly tweak their swing, at-bat mentality, etc. to improve, or has the millions of dollars, bonuses, and the such made that seem trivial. Maybe bring in Schmidt as the hitting coach, as he would not be afraid to tell the sacred cows when they were on and off. We need to do something, while waiting, either now or down the line. I’m not sure what because I’m mystified as many other fans are. Maybe unload Blanton later in the season, but what will he garner us? On one Phillies post-game (PH-17?) they stated we should trade Worley. Why? He is doing great! Maybe trade Polly and move keep Galvis at second, and move Utley to third (insane, right? Cholly won’t do it.) I do not know. Maybe give Brown a shot – now I’m grasping at straws. All I know is we cannot wait forever, and need to make something happen before all any synergy we had is depleted, even the pleasant surprises like Chad Qualls (knocking wood for good luck) and we join Boston is the abyss of teams who squandered their potential. Need to pound these skell pitchers the next two games. Go Phils!!!

  23. c schreiber

    April 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    1st inning, 2-0 “Backs”. Game over. Good night all.

  24. upandaway

    April 24, 2012 at 3:18 am

    C, you’re a nattering nabob of negativism.

    • schmenkman

      April 24, 2012 at 5:43 am


      Every time I saw that last night, I thought the D-backs had hit another home run. Which, coincidentally, was about right.

  25. joycedaffodil

    April 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Last night it was distressing to see G. Gross napping on the bench, his nap time seems to have manifested itself in the Phillies hitting. M. Thompson was “let go” due to the hitting of the Phils, but somehow that problem hasn’t corrected itself. Last year we managed to survive by having amazing pitching. This year . . . . .

    • schmenkman

      April 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Milt Thompson was let go because it was easier to fire the coach than all the players. Hitting coaches rarely make a big difference, so it’s no surprise at all that the problem “somehow hasn’t corrected itself.”

      The Phillies didn’t “survive” last year, by the way. They ran away with the division.

      It’s way way way … way too early to think the Phillies aren’t going to contend this year.

      • joycedaffodil

        April 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

        I want to have your positive outlook but 50 years of watching this is beginning to wear thin. My Mother had a good philosophy, start out as you mean to go on. Starting this way is rough to overcome. I DO WANT THEM TO OVERCOME. My little grandson, George watches baseball and has his little Phillies hat at 1.5 years. This is a baseball household, just because I am 70 years old doesn’t mean I have given up, but my time is running out.

      • Chuck A.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        So, joycedaffodil (great handle by the way)…. when you say “50 years of watching this is beginning to wear thin”….by “this” I guess suppose you are including the Phillies teams of the late 70’s-early 80’s, the ’93 team, and the latest stretch of success which really began in about 2003-04 or so?? ….. all of which occured in the last 50 years.

      • schmenkman

        April 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Someone pointed out in another blog that in the 16 games before Utley returned last year (May 6-22), they were 7-9 and hit even worse (much worse, actually), than they have so far in 2012.

        There are several players who will undoubtedly hit better than they have. So I’m cautiously optimistic that they will start to score more runs even without Utley and Howard, and will be at least over .500 when they come back.

        By the way, the Phillies have a reputation as the first franchise to 10,000 losses and all that, but most people don’t know they’ve been over .500, in total, since all the way back in 1961.

  26. joycedaffodil

    April 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Yes, I was in the City of Phila in the 80’s screaming my head off with everyone else. Yes I was in the crowd for several hours to cheer on the Team recently. Yes, I was at the game last year and when I was recovering from knee replacement I was sitting at home cheering madly. Been there done that and have some OLD PENNANTS.

  27. Ron

    April 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Joyce you rock

  28. Dave Lerch

    April 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

    The Phillies offense is what it is and it wouldn’t matter if Utley and Howard were playing or come back at all. Both of them are shells of their former selves and we can’t expect much from either going forward. The national league east isn’t very good, despite the fast start the Nationals are off to,the Braves aren’t good enough, have won nothing with the exception of Chipper and won’t be winning anytime soon. Same applies to Miami and Washington. All three teams will fade as usual. They are better collectively,but only marginally. They have proven nothing. On the other hand, the Phillies know how to win, have experienced winning and all the pressure associated with winning. They will win this division this year and it will be a struggle,because the Phillies are declining. The others are only slightly better than they have been if at all.

    • schmenkman

      April 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Hard to know where to begin…

      – Utley was the 3rd best-hitting second baseman in the NL last year, and one of the best overall second basemen in baseball.
      – Howard has not declined much in recent years — look at his OPS vs. the league average since 2008 (OPS+; 100= average): 124, 141, 127, 123
      – The NL East was the best division in the NL (by far) last year, and will likely be even better this year. By the way, the East was best even if you exclude the division winners.

      • schmenkman

        April 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

        On Utley, it’s possible that he’ll be much worse this year, but since he was in similar shape a year ago it’s hard to tell. It’s also possible that Howard will take time to get to the numbers noted above, but he should be better than the current lot.

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