A few years ago, the Phils outfield looked like it would be some combination of Michael Taylor, Shane Victorino, and Dom Brown for 2012. Now, Victorino may be traded before July 31, Brown is struggling with injuries, and Taylor, as we found out from my colleague Jay Floyd yesterday, continues to stroke Triple-A pitching but has struggled in his brief tastes of the Bigs. The 2012 Phillies’ outfield has, of course, looked and felt much different than that trio.
Surprising Off Season Pick-Ups
Juan Pierre – Pierre does not have enough PA to qualify for the batting title but his .307 BA in 262 PA is good enough for second in the team. Pierre is 20 for 23 (87%) in stolen base attempts, which at age 34 bests his 75% career success rate, and has been worth 0.8 WAR for the Phillies. Pierre also predictably is tough to strike out (5.0% this year v. career average of 5.6%). Pierre’s .378 SLG% is a product of his high batting average but immediately identifies a problem within the Phils line-up: the light-hitting Pierre’s SLG % is higher than regulars Victorino, Mayberry, and Polanco. Yet, the struggles of others aren’t the result of Pierre’s successes and shouldn’t be penalized. Pierre is having perhaps the “Best Case Scenario” season you could have envisioned for a former speedster who looked to be all but done last year with the White Sox and deserves a high mark. Grade: B+
Laynce Nix – In 51 PA, Nix was hitting .326/.392/.587, playing primarily against righties and allowing Ty Wigginton to play primarily against lefties at first but also fill in in left field. Nix is battling a serious Grade 2 left calf strain and began a rehab assignment yesterday. Once Nix returns, he should be a valuable bench member. Grade: Incomplete leaning toward B+.
Turning Up the Heat with the Bat, Possibly Melted His Glove and/or Defensive Ability
Hunter Pence – Arbitrary stats defined by arbitrary timeline time: Pence has hit .314/.390/.500 since May 14 with 9 2B and 9 HR. Pence has kept the Phillies in games with his bat but has taken them right back out with bad decisions in the field. On July 7 against the Braves, a Pence error cost the Phils the game despite him going 2-3. His current triple-slash (.285/.352/.482) lines up almost perfectly with his career triple-slash (.292/.344/.485) but his defense does not and has cost the Phillies an estimated 7.1 runs versus what an average fielder would have provided via FanGraphs. Grade: B-
Center Field, Center of Trade Rumors
Shane Victorino – Don’t let the low average fool you – Victorino has been a valuable player for the Phillies who is performing near his career norms in BB%, K%, HR, and is even having a bounce back year in steals. He hasn’t been able to bounce back, though, with BABIP; the Flyin’ Hawaiian is BABIP is .258 against a career .295 mark, showing that the speedster has been a little less lucky than he usually is. His line drives are down by about 3% and his ground balls up by about 3%. This may have more to do with his splits than anything – Victorino is hitting .316/.391/.592 against lefties as a righty in 87 PA v. just .223/.288/.304 in 274 PA as a lefty versus a righty. Is it time for Victorino to hit only from the right side against righty pitchers? Still, a disappointing year for Shane, particularly including what happened on July 8. Grade: C-