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Phillies Stat Notes: hot-hitting Braves, and Hoskins’ amazing start

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The Phillies face another test as the NL’s best-hitting team comes to town

Despite losing the Arizona series, the Phillies still have the 3rd best record in the NL, at 15-9, behind the Diamondbacks (17-7), and the Mets (15-8), and tied with St. Louis.

Standings

In the NL East, the Phils are a half game behind the Mets, and a game ahead of the Braves. The Nationals are in 4th at 11-14.

Batting

The Phillies’ overall hitting stats are in the middle of the pack (wOBA 8th, wRC+ 9th), but they continue to benefit from sequencing “luck”, or clutch, if you will, and so are 5th in the NL in scoring (4.88 runs per game).

The Braves meanwhile have had the most potent offense in the NL so far, leading not only in scoring (5.58 per game), but also wOBA and wRC+.

Getting on base

The Phils are 5th in OBP, supplementing a .235 batting average (which, believe it or not, is no worse than middle-of-the-pack this year), with the 2nd best walk rate in the NL.

The Braves have the NL’s highest batting average (.269), and are also walking at a respectable rate (9.1%, 9th), and so they have the league’s second best OBP.

The NL overall is hitting only .239, and with the AL at .246, the MLB batting average is .243. The last time it was that low was in 1968 (.237), the season that showed the scales had tipped so much to the pitchers’ favor that MLB decided to lower the height of the pitcher’s mound the following season (not to suggest that anything like that is likely this time around).

Power

Atlanta has also hit with power, coming in with the 3rd best ISO* in the NL, at .167. The Phils meanwhile are below average in the power category, with the 12th ranked ISO in the NL.

*ISO, short for Isolated power, is the difference between batting average and slugging percentage, and essentially measures the average extra bases per at bat (1 for a double, 2 for a triple, 3 for a HR).

Plate Discipline

The Phillies have dipped to 2nd in the NL in both taking the first pitch (77% of the time), and their walk rate (11.4%), but continue leading all MLB in pitches per plate appearance. While they have the NL’s 2nd highest walk rate, they also have the 2nd highest strikeout rate.

The Braves have been one of the more aggressive teams in the league, ranking last in both taking the first pitch, and pitches per PA. And partly because they don’t run as many deep counts, they also have the 2nd lowest strikeout in the NL, at 20.2%.

Small Ball

The Phils are among the teams least likely to sacrifice, while the Braves lead the NL in both sacrifice attempts and successful bunts.

The Phillies still lead the league in scoring runners from 3rd with less than two out, part of the reason they’ve scored more runs than their hitting stats might indicate.

*Productive outs are defined as a) successful sacrifice by a pitcher with one out, b) advancing a runner with none out, or c) driving in a baserunner with the second out of the inning.

Base Running

Both teams have attempted 24 steals, and both have been successful 16 times, and so are tied for 2nd in those two categories.

Batting — Individual

Below is how each Phillie hitter’s OPS has progressed over the last two weeks.

  • Rhys Hoskins continues to be very steady around the 1.100 OPS mark, and by wRC+ is now the 2nd best hitter in MLB so far, behind only Didi Gregorius.
  • Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera continue to run neck-and-neck with OPS’s in the mid-.800’s.
  • Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery have dipped below .700, while Aaron Altherr has risen to the same level after a horrible start. Carlos Santana has also shown sporadic signs of breaking out lately.
  • Then there are the stragglers at the bottom.

By the way Hoskins has now accumulated 3.5 WAR (per fangraphs) in his first 74 career games. That’s a pace of 7.7 per 162. And while we should probably not expect that level of play to continue, it’s remarkable that he has done that so far. A big reason for it is his ability to manage the strike zone and willingness to take a walk, which has put him in some rare company. Yesterday he tied former Phillies first baseman Don Hurst for most walks in MLB history through a player’s first 74 games (since at least 1908, when the game data at baseball reference begins). Rhys is the only player on all three top 10s:

Pitching

The starts by Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively against Arizona did not help the Phillies’ team stats, though they are still respectable:

*FIP (Fielding-independing pitching) is based only on the stats that are considered to be most controllable by pitchers: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. xFIP takes that one step further by also assuming that home runs are only controllable by a pitcher to the extent to which they allow fly balls to be hit, and adjusts their HRs to the league-average rate of HRs per Fly Balls.

And while the number of errors (and Fielding Percentage) are often not a very good measure of a team’s fielding ability, in the Phillies’ case it happens to match what most of the advanced stats say.