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Phillies Stat Notes: The Braves’ Offensive Juggernaut Visits CBP

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The Phillies host the Braves, pitting teams with 2 of the 3 best records in the NL.

At 26-18, the Phillies have the 3rd best record in the NL, behind the Braves (28-17), and the Central-leading Brewers (28-19).

Other than their Defense (13th in fangraphs), the Phillies’ key stats are uniformly above average-but-not-great, ranking in the range of 3rd-7th best in the league:

Standings

The Braves have been successful with average-ish pitching so far, thanks to arguably the best offense in the NL. They lead the league in both scoring, and overall hitting (by wRC+):

Batting

The Phillies are 4th in the NL in scoring (4.68 runs per game), and are the 6th best hitting team in the league overall (wRC+ of 97).

The Braves meanwhile have been a juggernaut, ranking first or second in all major categories. How good have they been? While they rank 3rd in MLB in wOBA and wRC+, if we exclude pitchers, they have had the best-hitting position players in MLB, just ahead of both the Cubs and the Yankees.

They’ve been very aggressive at the plate, swinging at the first pitch more than any other team in the NL, and seeing the fewest pitches per plate appearance. And without running deep counts, their walk rate is only about average, but their K rate is the lowest in the league.

Below are some additional stats which I’ll be tracking going forward:

The first of those shows that the Phillies (with high walks, and high Ks) are about average in BB/K ratio, but the Braves (average walks/low Ks) are 2nd in the league.

The next set of four are plate discipline stats from fangraphs. The Braves lead the NL in both swinging at pitches in the strike zone, and also in how often they make contact when they swing (at any pitch). Their ratio of swings in the zone (Z-Swing%) to swings out of the zone (O-Swing%) is 2.42, 2nd best in the league.

The Phils meanwhile have been good about not chasing outside the zone (27.9%, 4th lowest), but they also don’t swing very much in the zone (65.0%, 11th highest). Their ratio of Z-Swing to O-Swing isn’t as good as the Braves, but still 5th best in the NL.

However when they do swing, the Phillies are dead last in making contact (on 74.0% of their swings).

The next two are from fangraphs’ Batted Ball stats, and show quality of contact. The Braves are 3rd in both Line Drive%, and Hard-hit%, while the Phillies are at or near the bottom in both.

Finally, Bases Taken% is different from the similar stat above. “Took extra base” in the above table shows how often an extra base is taken on a hit (e.g. going first to third on a single, or first to home on a double).

“Bases Taken%” below is calculated as the number of times bases are taken on fly balls, wild pitches, or passed balls, as a percentage of the times the team has gotten on base. The Phils lead in both the number of bases taken, and as a percentage of times on base (by hit, walk, or HBP ; ) ).

Below is the team’s progress on various key metrics: Batting Average and BB% together drive a team’s On Base Percentage, and Batting Average and ISO combine to form Slugging Percentage. Also shown is a dotted line showing the NL average for each stat.

Batting average is hovering around the NL’s overall average. Walk rate has dipped some, but is well over the average and still leads the league.

ISOlated Power is back up over the average for the season to date.

Batting — Individual

The two colorful columns in the middle below compare each hitter to the average OPS at that position: first the average at the position for last year’s Phillies, and then for last year’s NL average at the position.

Below is how each Phillie hitter’s OPS and wOBA have progressed over time.

Odubel Herrera leads the NL in batting average, at .344, and is second in MLB.

The Streak

Herrera’s on-base streak ended yesterday at 45 games, the 4th longest in Phillies history:

I don’t remember Howard’s streak being discussed at the time, but it may have been.

Odubel’s streak was the 7th longest in MLB since 2010:

Of the 45 games, 41 were this season, and that is the 9th longest on-base streak to start a season in MLB history:

Hail Cesar

Cesar Hernandez is now at 8.7 WAR (per fangraphs) over the last two full years (i.e. since May 21, 2016), or just a hair behind Cano for 3rd most among all MLB second basemen:

Yes, Daniel Murphy has been hurt this year, but no one in the NL has produced more value at 2B over these last two years than Cesar.

And speaking of Cesar, and of streaks, Hernandez has now been on base in 24 straight games, tied for the 5th longest streak this season, and the second longest active streak behind J.D. Martinez’s 25-gamer:

Pitching

The Phillies’ pitching has been somewhat better than the Braves, so far, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Braves’ (or anyone’s) fielding has been better:

*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.

Pitching - Individual

Below is a high-level break down of each starter’s games: QS is the typical definition (6+ IP, 3 or less ER), “bad” is any start with more ER than innings pitched, and “other” is all the rest:

And below are each pitcher’s games, with the Game Score for each one on the right: