Road power outage

This is basically the same lineup for Philadelphia as last season, with the added power of Chase Utley at second base and the negligible power of Kenny Lofton joining the platoon in centerfield. Last year the Phillies hit 215 home runs (only the Cubs had more in the National League), with 102 of those coming on the road (fourth in the National League). However, this year the Phillies rank dead last in all of baseball in road home runs (33 in 44 games) and are being outhomered in their own park 79-65 through 51 home games. So what's the story here?

To begin with, Jim Thome's injuries have negatively impacted the club's overall home run total. The Phillies have 13 home runs from the first base position on the year. Last season Thome hit 15 in the month of June alone.

We saw a ton of harmless fly balls in the series in Seattle, leaving the strong impression that the Phillies had been spoiled by the close proximity of their home park's fences and the way the ball carries there. The theory goes that they became accustomed to the cheap fly ball home runs of Citizens Bank Park and fell into the trap of trying to hit long fly balls that would find their way over the fence. Once they went into a ballpark with more reasonable dimensions, these long fly balls became routine outs.

If this were the case and the Phillies were trying to hit fly balls instead of trying to drive it, you'd expect to see a lower groundball/flyball ratio and fewer doubles. Yet a look at the numbers shows that the Phillies are still hitting more groundballs than flyballs both at home and away.

2004: 1.13 G/F home, 1.22 G/F road
2005: 1.15 G/F home, 1.19 G/F road

A look at the frequency of doubles does show a decrease in that department on the road.

2004: 22.0 PA/2B home, 20.7 PA/2B road
2005: 23.4 PA/2B home, 28.1 PA/2B road

This is partly to blame for the alarming drop in road slugging percentage. The Phillies are sluggling just .362 on the road, worse than every team in baseball not named "Colorado." Last year the Phillies slugged .436 away from home, which ranked third in the league. A look at the home run numbers shows an extreme dropoff this season on the road, and is the chief cause of the Phils' power outage away from Citizens Bank Park.

2004: 28.0 PA/HR home, 32.3 PA/HR road 2005: 30.3 PA/HR home, 51.2 PA/HR road

So who is to blame for this? Here's a breakdown of the slugging percentages:

             Home    Road      +/-
Howard          .694    .118    -.576
Pratt           .557    .212    -.345
Offerman        .533    .222    -.311
Polanco         .552    .319    -.233
Burrell         .613    .419    -.194
Martinez        .385    .222    -.163
Thome           .430    .269    -.161
Perez           .361    .245    -.116
Chavez          .359    .280    -.079
Rollins         .447    .374    -.073
Lieberthal      .454    .387    -.067
Utley           .557    .492    -.065
Bell            .397    .342    -.055
Abreu           .511    .497    -.014
Michaels        .420    .406    -.014
Lofton          .411    .423    +.012

Team         .467    .362    -.105

Blaming Ryan Howard is obviously misguided, as he has heated up while at home, so those numbers will probably normalize as he gets more playing time on the road. Pratt is a backup, Offerman and Polanco are gone, which brings us to Pat Burrell. He's clearly making his living hitting at CBP. Aside from Burrell and Thome, everyone else except Lofton is generating somewhere between slightly and moderately less power on the road.

So who's to blame? Well, Burrell and Thome primarily, with everyone else except Lofton also deserving a share of the blame.