David Hale stole some of my thunder as I've been thinking about this and noticing a pattern for awhile, But I think a bit further breakdown of the current Phils power situation might be useful. I think it is especially important to understand why the current hitting situation "feels" so bad. FYI, I stink at tables, even though I have to do these at work, so sorry about the formatting (otherwise it will REALLY feel like work)
My basic thesis is that it is NOT OBP per se that is the problem, but SLG. Many Phils are close to their career average OBP over the years. Some of this is transferred from hits to bases on balls (and so for some, maybe like Cholly, it thus seems like they "aren't hitting"). Conversely, SLG% has crashed.
Here are some comparisons, which I'll break down into 3 categories.
All of the following use the following numbers:
HItter OBP2011 SLG 2011 OBPCareer SLGCareer
(1) Pretty close to career averages:
Polanco .360 .394 .347 .411
Victorino .345 .468 .343 .431
Brown .319 .422 .289 .389 (SSS)
Note that I've deliberately avoided the Cerberus types here. Most of them have terrible SLG anyway. Here's one example:
Sardinha .436 .276 .242 .270
While we are happy about his unsustainable walk rate, he is just as bad as usual in SLG.
(2) Significantly down from career averages (this is most of the team):
First group: continued downward trajectory
Rollins .336 .365 .329 .433
Howard .329 .469 .369 .565
Rollins and Howard SLG continues a multi-year trend of decline. They may or may not get better. Rollins OBP is actually almost exactly at his career level.
Second group: might get better as the year goes on
Utley.347 .328 .380 .511
Ruiz .360 .348 .354 .392
Ibanez .301 .421 .345 .474
I predict Utley's numbers will be better very soon (well, actually, after yesterday's game, they already are. :-)) Some of you might think Ibanez is misplaced, that he belongs with Rollins and Utley. But if he follows May with a decent June, and then simply repeats the pattern in the second half of the season he started in the first (one horrible month, one great month, one ok month), he'll actually be close to career numbers. His SLG dropoff is also not as pronounced as some of the others
Third group: I have no idea
Gload .293 .295 .327 .411
Francisco .333 .374 .330 .436
Mayberry .316 .365 .300 .434
Gload is hurt, Mayberry is SSS. But Francisco is the intriguing one. Almost exactly the same OBP, but much less power. Will this continue?
(3) Much better SLG than last year.
Yes, there is one member of this group....wait for him.....
Hamels .290 .333 .194 .202
OK, he's a ringer. But it shows how many players are having bad SLG years, and basically no one among the regulars is having a significantly above-average SLG year, while several are having close-to-average OBP years.
So, some of you are saying, well, we knew this, after all, all of MLB is down for power.
UH, NOT QUITE.
There is a reason that we subjectively perceive that there is a power outage. And that is because, relatively, there is. Moreover, very large percentage of runs in the last few years have come from SLG, more specifically the HR. And now, especially relatively, this is down. A LOT.
Below, per Yahoo, I have the MLB team rankings for the Phils for runs, doubles, triples and homers since 2006.
(FYI, all of you true stat freaks can consider whether we can do some sort of Wilcoxon signed-rank or other non-parametric analysis on this).
What you'll notice immediately is that HRs are strongly correlated with runs for the Phils, and not so much other SLG sub-categories. The very best power and run combo year was the first playoff year, 2007. And of course, I remember all of the comebacks that year, and power fireworks. That memory is apparently accurate, at least relative to other teams. Conversely, run production relative to the competition was significantly down in 2008 from 2007 (thanks, BL) but HRs were still much more prevalent for the Phils than for the other teams.
This power/scoring display (which the broadcasters attributed to our JOAB) continued in 2009, but started falling off in 2010. Now, you can attribute this to injuries, aging, or whatever. But the real shock to the emotional system as a fan happened this year.
Let me help parse this out....from 4th in runs scored, with many of those coming from HRs (2nd rank) in 2009 to16th in runs and 18th in HRs in 2011. This means, on average, *the opposition has more runs and more HRs than the Phils do*. Wow. Now, I don't know if there is an MLB power reduction effect, but the relative effect is far greater for the Phils. It feels more boring. Adding to the SLG slump the Phils are 27th in doubles! Ewwww (recall that KC, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle are still in the league).
Rather than a party with lots of extra-base hits, especially HRs, and players flying around the bases, the Phils have been largely a station-to-station team. That's not been their MO. I had already planned this fanpost when I saw Utley double in two, then later HR on Saturday. Now, that's Phillies baseball. It will be interesting to see how many others pick up the pace, relative to their peers, the rest of the season.