The Phillies offense is clearly struggling this year. As a team, they are 8th in the NL in average, 12th in OBP, 10th in SLG, and 13th in OPS. The more in depth you go, the worse the stats get. I was looking for the root of the offensive woes when I came across their strikeout-to-walk ratio. I knew that they weren’t drawing many walks and were striking out a lot, but when you put them together, only the Cubs in the NL have a worse ratio.
However, the Phillies are about league average in pitches seen per plate appearance (P/PA). So they are seeing a decent amount of pitches, but do not have the walks to show for it. So what is happening with those pitches?
The Phils make contact with the ball (in any capacity) on about 77% of their swings, which is slightly below league average. But there’s a twist: they are fourth in the NL in the percentage of plate appearances that result in balls put into play. Their BABIP is at 6th.
This means that the balls that they put into play are resulting in more outs than other teams. Sure, this could be a case of a tiny bit of “bad luck”, but when we see guys like Ben Revere ground out to second over and over again, and guys like Michael Young grounding into double play after double play, we begin to think otherwise.
So what’s the solution? Making better swings. They are seeing enough pitches, but they swing and miss too much, and when they make contact, it results in an out more often than it should. If they can make better swings, they’d make better contact more often. Their strikeout percent would go down, and it would put more pressure on opposing teams’ defense.
The Rockies have the NL’s best OPS and wOBA so far this year. They see about the same amount of pitches the Phillies do, but make contact more often, which results in the NL’s best batting average. They do more with the pitches they see with better swings. But is that possible with the Phillies? I think so. Definitely not best in the NL, but I think the Phillies’ bats still have some life in them. I think Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown, and Ben Revere will all improve over the course of the season, and if Delmon Young can produce as well, I think we’ll see better at-bats and more “oomph” from the offense.