Better Plate Discipline Overshadowed by Other Issues

Chooch is seeing lots of pitches. (MLB)

Chooch is seeing lots of pitches. (MLB)

In recent seasons, the Phillies seemingly have forgotten how to do damage to opposing pitching. Not only has their power been sorely lacking, but their plate discipline was relatively non-existant in 2012-13 under Charlie Manuel. At least through the first eight games, that has changed.

This new approach at the plate has paid dividends. To score, you need baserunners. The Phillies are getting them.

Through the first seven games, the Phillies ranked first in the NL in pitches per plate appearances with 3.95. Two members of the lineup, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, rank in the top 10.

(Note: they’ve slid to fifth in the NL after Wednesday’s game).

In 2013, Phillies hitters saw an average of 3.78 pitches per plate appearance, 10th in the NL. They scored 3.77 runs per contest, 13th in the league. Their .306 OBP was better than only the Cubs and Marlins.

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the 2014 Phillies were getting on at a .350 clip. It’s only a few games, and the numbers will inevitably even out, but it’s a sign that the approach has changed. Instead of hacking without a plan, these Phillies are making the opponent work.

Take for instance Tuesday’s game against the Brewers in which innings-devouer Kyle Lohse was bounced in the fifth inning having thrown 107 pitches. A nice stat from my colleague Corey Seidman: Lohse has tossed the 3rd-fewest pitches-per-inning since the start of 2013 at 15.1 per inning. The Phils made him throw 28 in first and kept making him work hard throughout his start.

On Wednesday night, Matt Garza threw 27 pitches in a sloppy first inning. That number was inflated due to a balk and an error, yet the point still stands.

If the Phillies can continue this new trend, the season may take on a different meaning as we get into the summer months. What has overshadowed the discipline at the plate is the recent inability to get runners home, putrid defense, and a shaky bullpen.

Since Saturday against the Cubs, the Phillies are 6 for 40 with RISP. Again, runners on, going nowhere.

If they can’t straighten those issues out, the numbers above will mean very little.




  1. bacardipr

    April 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I hold out for a little before i start saying much about the team overall. I know a lot of these guys are still getting things together. However, a slow start will probably squash any playoff chances.

  2. schmenkman

    April 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

    For a more positive take on Pat’s numbers, of these two aspects of the offense, plate discipline and hitting with runners in scoring position, one of them is fluky and will inevitably even out over time, while the other can be much more sustainable.

    Stats on hitting with RISP are notoriously unreliable over short stretches because they rely so much on whether balls happen to be falling in or not, and they almost always even out over a whole season.

    On the other hand, a more disciplined approach, resulting in more pitches, more walks, and therefore more baserunners and more runs, is much more sustainable.

  3. Tom in South Philly

    April 10, 2014 at 10:53 am

    The better plate discipline may be one of the few silver-linings so far this season. I think it is reversing a trend that has gone on for the past few years, even when they made the playoffs. It seemed that the other team’s hitters always made the Phillies pitchers work a lot harder than the other way around.

    Of course though, better Phillies plate discipline may mean longer games, but that’s a trade-off I am willing to accept.

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