What the Phils need to do to secure a protected 1st round pick in 2014, where does their current lack of walking (or the bullpen's walking too many) fit in recent history, and who's hot, who's cold?
- Race to the Bottom
- Walk to the Bottom
- Phillies Hitters: Hot, Cold, etc.
- Upcoming Milestones
Race to the Bottom
The Phillies are currently tied for the 9th worst record in baseball, meaning that if they sign a free agent whose former team offered them a Qualifying Offer, their first round pick would be protected, and they would lose their second round pick instead:
90 losses will almost certainly mean a worst-10 finish, and the Phils need to go no better than 9-13 in order to lose that many.
89 losses may also be enough, in which case if they can go 10-12 and still get the protected pick.
Walk to the Bottom
The Phillies have a schizophrenic relationship with the base on balls this year. Their hitters have avoided it, their starters have also been good at avoiding it, but the bullpen of young arms with good-to-great stuff but lousy command, loves handing out free passes. But where does that put this team in the context of recent NL history, or in the history of the Phillies?
Since 2000, there have been 223 team seasons in the National League. The Phillies established a proud tradition of taking walks early in the millennium, and 4 of the 14 highest walk rates among those 223 teams belong to the 2002-2005 Phillies teams, all of which walked at least 10.0% of the time. But of those 223 NL teams since 2000, only 5 walked less than the 2013 Phillies have so far (6.8%).
Historically, that 6.8% walk rate is only the 18th lowest rate in team history, but it is the lowest in 50 years (since a 6.6% rate in 1963). It's not surprising which Phils teams have had the best walk rates: the mid-50s are well represented, with the #1 (1955), #5 (1954), and #9 (1956) rates. The Wheeze Kids of 1983 make an appearance at #2, the patient 1993 Phils at #4, and many of the rest are from the Burrell/Abreu early 2000s: #3 (2003), and #6-8 (2002, 2005, 2004).
Phillies starting staffs, as well, have been among the best since 2000, holding the 3 lowest walk rates in the NL since then: 5.1% in 2011, 5.4 % in 2012, and 5.6% in 2010. Even this year's starters are 25th stingiest (out of 223) in the NL since 2000, at 6.7%.
In terms of Phillies history, complete walk stats for pitchers begin in 1916, and the first two starting staffs that there ares stats for (the 1916-1917 Phils teams) have the lowest and 4th lowest walk rates in team history, while #2 (2011), #3 (2012), and #5 (2010) are all from the current era.
However the bullpen is a different story -- of those 223 NL teams since 2000, only 24 have had bullpens that walked more than the 2013 Phils' 10.9%.
That's pretty bad, but for some historical context, the Phils have seen worse from their bullpens: In 1999 and 2000, relievers walked 11.9% and 11.8% of batters in the two years. And in 1974, they walked 12.8%.
Asche - Hot
After getting off to 1 for 17 start in his first 6 games, Asche has hit .321/.368/.531 for a .899 OPS in the 23 games since then.
Chooch - Hot
The other hot hitter noted above is Carlos Ruiz, who has had two starkly different parts to his season to date:
through 7/28 (165 PA): .253/.301/.280 (.581 OPS)
since 7/30: (114 PA): .317/.366/.538 (.905 OPS)
The BABIP hasn't changed all that much: .292 through 7/28, and .326 since then.
The most surprising and worrisome part of the Chooch's start was the utter lack of power -- only 4 doubles to go with 34 singles, for an ISO that not even a poor hitting pitcher (or Michael Martinez) would be proud of (.027).
Frandsen - Not
Back in early June, I chided Tom McCarthy for saying that Frandsen wasn't hitting like last year, when in fact, his overall stats were actually very comparable to last year's at that point (.356 wOBA, vs..362 last year). He continued hitting well, and finished the first half at a .371 wOBA and .835 OPS (vs. last year's .834) -- he even had a .297 batting average that McCarthy would like. And, unlike last year when he needed a .366 BABIP to generate that production, this year it was only at .314 at the All Star break.
Well, since then, he hasn't been able to hit a thing:
pre-ASB (119 PA): .297/.390/.446 (.835 OPS)
post-ASB (100 PA): .137/.180/.232 (.432 OPS)
His batted ball splits show only 15.9% line drives in the first half, and getting even worse at 13.8% in the 2nd half. So maybe that .314 BABIP should have been lower, and actually include a good bit of luck that has now deserted him.
Last year he hit line drives in an impressive 24.3% of the balls he put in play.
Rollins - After Sandberg
Rollins is seeing some more pitches (3.95 vs. 3.76 prior) since Sandberg took over as manager, and he is certainly walking more: 15 walks in 20 games, and a 18.8% walk rate, compared to 7.2% before the managerial change.
However he's also hitting even worse, if that were possible, than before:
before change: .252/.306/.344 (.651 OPS)
after change: .169/.325/.246 (.571 OPS)
BABIP is a tiny .204 in those latter 20 games, so it may be random, and he's striking out at the same 14% rate.
David S. Cohen did some research off-line on Rollins' past streaks like this, and I'm going to take the liberty of pasting his work here:
18 game stretches of 14 walks or more
starting August 8, 2004 - 15 walks in 18 games (same with next two games)
starting June 18, 2009 - 14 walks in 18 games (same with next game)
starting September 30, 2009 - 15 walks in 18 games (including 14 walks in first 18 games of 2010)
starting April 17, 2011 - 14 walks in 18 games (same with next 4 games)
starting September 11, 2012 - 14 walks in 18 games
starting August 16, 2013 - 15 walks in 18 games
And as David noted, it will be interesting to see whether the recent spate of walking is a trend, or a blip.
Last week's more comprehensive update on Phillies milestones is here.
Recent milestones and those that may be reached over the next week or so...
- On Saturday Rollins became the 2nd Phillie in the team's history to record 8,000 at bats. He should pass Mike Schmidt (8,352) as the Phils' all-time leader in June of next year.
- With his game-tying double on Monday, Rollins moved into MLB's top 100 all-time in that category, tying Steve Finley, Joe Morgan, and Bernie Williams, for 99th. (Btw, he's already in the top 100 in steals -- 62nd with 420).
- He still needs 2 more home runs to reach 200 and become the 10th Phillie, and 8th shortstop to do so. That will make him just the 9th player (and only shortstop) in MLB history with 2,000 hits, 400 stolen bases, and 200 home runs.
- On Sunday Utley passed Juan Samuel to move into 9th place in strikeouts in Phils history, and he now has 828.
- Also, with Ryan Howard out of commission, Utley passed him to move into 7th place in Phillies extra base hits.
- Utley's next HBP (6th this year) will tie him with Fernando Vina for 18th all-time, with 157.
- He needs 2 more home runs (18 total) to tie Cy Williams for 7th on the Phillies all-time list, at 217.
- His next Sac Fly (5th) will tie Garry Maddox for 4th in Phils' history, at 51.
- Phillies All-time hitting leaders
- Phillies All-time pitching leaders
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Worst Phillies Lineup . . . In How Long?
A Semi-Definitive Guide to the Phillies Looming Television Contract, Part 2: ...Or Die Trying
Phillies 2, Nationals 3: Just Like Old Times
Michael Martinez: A Stat Oddity