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A.B.A.

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To the Bobby Abreu phans among us, this Phillies season can be marked similar to the Roman calendar: B.A. (Bobby Abreu) and A.B.A. (After Bobby Abreu).

Many of us predicted the A.B.A. offense would suffer without Bobby's out-avoidance skills in the middle of the lineup. So far, we've been wrong. But, how wrong have we been? And, has Bobby been missed at all?

There have been 17 games in the A.B.A. period, so let's look at the last 17 B.A. games compared to the first 17 A.B.A. games. (I'm including the two last games that Bobby sat out as a Phillie in the A.B.A. period because he was not in the lineup those games.) Caution is warranted, of course, because this is a very small sample size, on both ends. But, let's look anyway, for information's sake, if nothing else.

Overall, the team was 8-9 in the last 17 B.A. games. In the first 17 A.B.A. games, the team is 11-6. That seems like a big difference (1 game under .500 versus 5 games over), but it's really only a three game swing. Of course, it's good nonetheless.

Let's go to the numbers. Here's how the overall offense breaks down in the two periods:

Overall AB Hits 2B 3B R HR RBI BB K GDP BA OBA SLG OPS
B.A. 598 163 36 6 91 18 86 67 123 12 0.273 0.356 0.443 0.799
A.B.A. 631 189 29 4 122 32 116 73 131 17 0.300 0.378 0.510 0.888

The A.B.A. offense has been on a tear over the last 17 games. It has scored 30 more runs, slugged almost 70 points higher, and hit almost 30 points higher in average. The on-base percentage is up by more than 20 points, but with a 30 point higher batting average, the team is showing less patience (only 6 more walks in about 40 more plate appearances). Given Bobby's incredible walk rate this year, this result was definitely predictable. But, the decline in patience has obviously not hurt the team, as it is scoring 7.2 runs per game, which is a great pace. I miss Bobby as a Phillie, but I'll take this offense.

What components of the offense account for this big change? Let's look at two: hitting with runners in scoring position and right field production.

Scoring Position AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB K GDP BA OBA SLG OPS
B.A. 170 43 11 1 2 59 22 39 4 0.253 0.342 0.365 0.707
A.B.A. 170 53 9 1 6 81 24 40 6 0.312 0.402 0.482 0.884

Here is a huge difference in the A.B.A. period. With runners on base, the team is crushing the ball to the tune of an .884 OPS (compared to a B.A. OPS of .704). In the same number of at-bats, hits, home runs, and RBI are up for the team, while walks and strikeouts are about the same. The A.B.A. Phillies have been clutch. (Of course, I use that word in the historical sense, not the predictive of future outcome sense.)

Isolating right field production in the two periods gives this result:

RF AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB K GDP BA OBA SLG OPS
B.A. 63 15 3 0 0 8 13 17 0 0.238 0.367 0.286 0.653
A.B.A. 72 21 6 1 3 12 8 10 4 0.292 0.373 0.528 0.901

As a Bobby fan, this hurts. The 17 B.A. games had awful right field production (.653 OPS) whereas the 17 A.B.A. games have had excellent production (.901 OPS). Dare I say, that is Bobby Abreu-esque production in the A.B.A. era.

Finally, is the change in the team's overall performance due also to better pitching as opposed to just the hitting? Here's how the pitchers have fared in the two periods (stats are for opposing batters):

Against AB Hits 2B 3B R HR RBI BB K GDP BA OBA SLG OPS
B.A. 585 155 35 3 82 24 79 54 116 13 0.265 0.333 0.458 0.791
A.B.A. 591 148 33 4 85 23 82 52 145 13 0.250 0.312 0.437 0.749

The two lines are virtually identical in many respects, with the A.B.A. pitchers giving up a few more runs, striking out a lot more batters (nice work Cole!), and holding opposing hitters to a 0.040 lower OPS. The improvement the team has shown in the A.B.A. era is not due to better pitching; it's better hitting that's driving this team right now.

The A.B.A. era has not been the offensive nightmare that many of us foresaw; quite the contrary: the offense has flourished. Of course, it's only been 17 games, but other than a few problems, I like what I see from this offense as opposed to the immediately preceding B.A. offense. Let's hope it continues.