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RISP and Reward: Brewers at Phillies, May 26-28, 2006

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May 26: Brewers 6, Phillies 5 (10) W: Turnbow (2-1) L: Gordon (2-2) S: Shouse (1)
May 27: Brewers 9, Phillies 6 W: Wise (3-2) L: Franklin (1-4) S: Turnbow (15)
May 28: Phillies 6, Brewers 2 W: Madson (5-3) L: Eveland (0-2)

For more on the Brewers, please visit our SBN sister site at Brew Crew Ball

In a wildly uneven season that has unfolded in stretches of 1-6, 7-4, 1-4, 13-1, and 2-7 after yesterday's win at Shea Stadium, the one unfortunate constant for the 2006 Phillies has been an inability to hit with runners in scoring position. As a team, the Phils are batting .234 with RISP, and they went just 5 for 30 in those situations against the Mets--bottoming out at 1 for 11 yesterday. (Wrap your brain around this: Mike Lieberthal, at .357, has been the team's second-best hitter with RISP, behind only Chase Utley's .375. Hurry back, Mike!)

I have neither the time nor, really, the inclination--nor, probably, the expertise or basic cranial capacity--to dive into the whole "clutch hitting" issue again. And I don't want to psychoanalyze why players might "tense up" in key spots or what this means in terms of intestinal or testicular fortitude. But the Phils are dramatically underperforming their overall offensive performance in RISP situations. The good news is that the team's production over the past three full seasons suggests that they'll turn this around.

Here's the comparison through 46 games of RISP versus overall offensive performance:

2006 AVG OBP SLG OPS
RISP .234 .320 .391 .711
ALL .261 .338 .437 .775

Down across the board: less patience, less power, less contact. As much as anything, this probably explains the team's 7-9 record to date in one-run games (though I also have a hunch that Charlie Manuel's bullpen management has a lot to do with this look for a longer piece next week on the Phils and one-run contests).

But in each of the previous three seasons, with largely the same cast of characters, the team has been as good or better in RISP situations than overall:


2005 AVG OBP SLG OPS
RISP .278 .378 .438 .817
ALL .270 .348 .423 .772


2004 AVG OBP SLG OPS
RISP .257 .359 .425 .784
ALL .267 .345 .443 .775
2003 AVG OBP SLG OPS
RISP .265 .369 .427 .797
ALL .261 .343 .419 .762

So unless you think that Pat Burrell (.224 average, .706 OPS in RISP this year; .313/1.026 in 2005), Ryan Howard (.217.603 in 2006;.241/.857 in '05), Jimmy Rollins (.194/.548 in '06;.325/.952 last season), and David Dellucci (.067/.367 in 15 RISP at-bats this year;.288/.942 last year) all have lost their ability to produce with men in scoring position, a turnaround looks likely. This weekend, at home against a Brewers team that repeatedly came up with big hits in key spots when they swept the Phils in Milwaukee last week, would be a good time to start.