As the Phillies hit the 2014 All Star Break, they sit in a position none of them thought they would be in.
They are 11 games under .500, 42-53, 10 games out of first in the NL East and in the wild card race, with a run differential of -47, fourth-worst in the National League.
Needless to say, with a record like that, not a lot went right for the Phils in the unofficial first half of the season. So as we head into the All Star Break this week, here are my grades for various Phils after a dismal first few months. Today, we'll do the offensive and on Tuesday, we'll look at the pitching staff.
Ryan Howard - .220/.300/.381 .681 OPS 15 HRs 56 RBIs fWAR -0.2
Here are the Phillies with a higher slugging percentage than Ryan Howard so far this year: Marlon Byrd, Chase Utley, Reid Brignac, Cody Asche, Wil Nieves, John Mayberry, and Jimmy Rollins. Ben Revere, who has just one home run and 12 extra base hits, has a slugging percentage that is just .027 points below Howard's. And Howard is still the team's clean-up hitter.
Yes, he is second on the team in home runs, and yes he has piled up some RBIs. But his .681 OPS ranks 12th out of 12 NL first basemen with enough at bats to qualify, and he is the only first baseman in the National League to have a negative fWAR. And, all indications are that he's putting up these numbers while totally healthy.
Chase Utley - .293/.349/.445 .794 OPS 8 HRs 46 RBIs fWAR 3.1
Utley is the Phils' lone All Star this year, and for good reason. After a red-hot start, he cooled off a bit in June before ramping it back up in July (.292/.327/.417 in 52 July PAs). He is still among the best second basemen in the National League and has remained shockingly durable. The Phils may limit his playing time just a little bit more in the second half, now that the team is going into full-on sell mode. But Utley's strong 2014 is one of the few pleasant surprises this year. I don't see him getting traded, although there is an outside a chance a team like Oakland or San Francisco could make a play for him, but I highly doubt it.
Jimmy Rollins - .246/.327/.391 .719 OPS 11HRs 39 RBIs 19 SBs fWAR 2.2
Rollins' fWAR is second-highest on the team, and despite a low batting average and slugging percentage, Rollins is still one of the more productive shortstops in the National League. Like Chase, J-Roll got off to a hot start too, but cooled off considerably in the last month and a half, with just a .288 on-base percentage in June and a .296 mark in July. But even with those struggles, Rollins is still fourth among NL shortstops in fWAR (trailing only Troy Tulowitzki, Jhonny Peralta and Hanley Ramirez). His 11 HRs are third on the team, and he has a 10.8% walk rate this season, which is a career high for him.
Cody Asche - .254/.309/.408 .717 OPS 6 HRs 29 RBIs fWAR -0.4
I don't think anyone knows what to make of Asche as of yet. His offensive numbers are decent for a first year player (his OPS is 6th-best on the team), although he has been incredibly streaky. His defense, however, has been far below average, resulting in an fWAR below replacement level. Still, there have been some encouraging moments with Asche this year, enough to be intrigued by his second half. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies move him to an outfield position if Ruben Amaro is able to trade away one or two of the team's current outfielders, and if Maikel Franco continues to stay hot in Triple-A Lehigh.
Marlon Byrd - .263/.315/.479 .795 OPS 18 HRs 54 RBIs fWAR 1.0
The team's leading home run hitter, Byrd has been a pleasant surprise for the Phillies in 2014. He has lived up to the contract that Amaro gave him in the off-season, and has been way better than I predicted. It sounds like Byrd could be the first Phillie on the move this month, as it has been reported the Seattle Mariners are in serious negotiations for Byrd. He's played a passable defense in right field this year, and if the team can spin a decent prospect or two for him, then it will be a coup for Amaro. Either way, Byrd has proved his 2013 season was no fluke.
Ben Revere - .295/.316/.354 .670 OPS 1 HR 41 Runs Scored 26 SBs fWAR 0.7
Revere has been pretty much what he was last year. He hits for a decent average, doesn't walk, doesn't get on base much (especially for a lead-off hitter), plays spotty defense but can steal bases when he does get on. He hasn't progressed much from last year, and it's pretty safe to say that, at least from an offensive perspective, this is what you're going to get. If Revere can improve and become an above average defensive center fielder, then the team can live with his offensive production. Ideally, he'd bat in the 8-hole rather than at the top of the lineup, given the on-base issues. Those defensive problems, though, make it hard for me to give him a great grade.
Domonic Brown - .227/.279/.329 .608 OPS 6 HRs 46 RBIs fWAR -1.2
Dom Brown has been the worst outfielder in the Majors in 2014. It's just that simple. His defense is bad and he has been totally unable to adjust to the way National League pitchers are pitching to him. The Phillies continue to run him out to left field every day, mostly because they have had no choice. However, with Darin Ruf coming back from injury, it's possible Brown may not continue to play every day in the second half. His descent from All Star a year ago to one of the worst baseball players in the league is one of the chief reasons the Phillies have struggled in 2014.
Carlos Ruiz - .257/.363/.357 .719 OPS 2 HRs 14 RBIs fWAR 1.4
Despite missing the last two weeks with concussion issues after getting hit in the head by a pitch, Ruiz is still third on the team in fWAR. He continues to be an on-base machine, with a team-high walk rate of 11.4%, and is ideally suited to hitting 2nd in the lineup. What's mysterious is how his power has completely disappeared, with just two dingers this year and an isolated power (ISO) of just .100. Still, he provides solid defense behind the plate and is one of the few Phillies who will consistently get on base. His main issue will be staying healthy.
John Mayberry - .212/.306/.398 .704 OPS 5 HRs 20 RBIs, fWAR 0.1 (134 PAs)
When Mayberry isn't playing against right-handed hitters, he's doing just fine. Against lefties, Maybs (and yes, I'm calling him Maybs) is hitting .245/.333/.528, making him a good option off the bench against southpaws. Just try not to let him face many right-handers, because that .185/.284/.292 slash line is a tad ugly. He could be a cheap trade option this month for a team that is looking for help against left-handed pitching.
Tony Gwynn - .165/.283/.206 .489 OPS fWAR -0.8 (118 PAs)
The death of his father was a sad story, and it was wonderful to see the team rally around him. As for Gwynn's play on the field as Ben Revere's main back-up, it hasn't been good. His defense has disappointed and he has not been able to get on base when he has played. He's been a main contributor to a bench that is among the worst in baseball.
Cesar Hernandez - .225/.282/.274 .556 OPS fWAR -0.7 (111 PAs)
I've probably been a little higher on Hernandez than most in his brief career, so I'm a bit surprised he's been so unproductive in 2014. He's a utility infielder, and has helped himself by learning how to play shortstop and third in addition to his normal position of second base. He could see more playing time in the second half if the Phils begin to rest Utley a bit more. However, he'll need to be more productive at the plate. It's hard to be 0.7 fWAR points worse than a league average player with only 111 plate appearances.
Reid Brignac - .258/.329/.409 .738 OPS fWAR -0.1 (74 PAs)
Brignac filled in when Asche went down with an injury and did an OK job. Basically, he played at replacement player level, which is pretty much all you're expecting out of him. He made some decent plays defensively at third, however, you wouldn't want to live and die with him there for any longer than you had to. He also got some clutch hits for the Phils during his brief run with the starting gig. The 32.4% K-rate was a lot of fun.
Wil Nieves - .259/.273/.407 .680 OPS fWAR 0.2 (57 PAs)
Cameron Rupp - .195/.233/.293 .525 OPS fWAR 0.0 (43 PAs)
Nieves had done a nice job as Ruiz' back-up until he got hurt, and his online search for love was next-level entertaining. Rupp, the young catching prospect called up from Triple-A, has had his growing pains at the Major League level, but he was called up before he was ready out of necessity. Overall, the back-up catchers have been OK, just barely above league replacement. I'll take it.
The rest of the offensive players, Freddy Galvis, Koyie Hill, Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, Ronny Cedeno, Andres Blanco and Aaron Altherr, simply haven't played enough to give any grade other than "incomplete".
Overall, the offense has clearly disappointed, and the Phillies are certainly hoping Brown, Asche and Revere will improve in the second half. My guess is Revere will see his batting average hover around the .300 mark, Asche will continue along his current path, and Brown will improve a touch, but only because he cannot possibly get any worse. But of course, it won't be enough to really move the needle.