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Phillies Stat Notes: NL’s ERA Leaders host the Jays

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And why Phans haven’t seen many balls in play.

At 28-19, the Phillies have the 3rd best record in the NL, behind the Braves (29-19), and the Central-leading Brewers (31-20).

At a high level, looking at only runs scored and runs allowed, the Phillies’ hitting and pitching look equally good, both ranking 4th in the NL. However digging a little deeper shows the pitching has been somewhat better (more below).

Standings

Today, for the first time this season, the Phillies have the lowest ERA in the National League (3.36), just ahead of the Brewers and Cubs (both at 3.37).

Batting

The Phillies are 4th in the NL in scoring (4.55 runs per game), and are the 5th best hitting team in the league overall (wRC+ of 98).

Key Stats

Despite a middle-of-the-pack batting average of .238, the Phils have the 4th highest OBP (.324) thanks to their league-leading walk rate (10.8%).

Their Isolated Power (ISO)* meanwhile is 8th in the league (.157), in line with their HRs, which are a big part of that.

Plate Discipline

The table below shows the Phils get into good hitters’ counts (2-0, 3-0, 3-1) more than any other team, but by summarizing them like this we lose this detail:

  • They’ve gotten into 2-0 counts more than any other team in the NL.
  • They’ve gotten into 3-0 counts more than any other team in the NL.
  • They’ve gotten into 3-1 counts more than any other team in the NL.

That’s understandable to a degree since the same PA can be counted in all three, but it’s another indication of their approach.

Small Ball

Their approach has led to high walks/high Ks, which while it has meant more baserunners, it also means fewer productive outs and less advancing of runners, such as for example from 2nd to 3rd with none out, as shown below. However at least they have managed to remain very good (leading the NL in fact) at getting runners home from third with less than two out.

The Phillies are near the bottom in sacrificing, and that’s a result of having only one sacrifice bunt by a non-pitcher. They’re one of only three NL teams with just one by a non-pitcher, along with the Dodgers and Pirates. And the only AL team with just one is the visiting Blue Jays. The Phils have seven sacrifices by pitchers, which is in the middle of the pack 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).

Below are some additional stats on plate discipline and batted ball quality that will be integrated into the above table at some point.

The first of those shows that the Phillies (with high walks, and high Ks) are about average in BB/K ratio. The next set of four are plate discipline stats from fangraphs. The Phils have been good about not chasing outside the zone (27.8%, 3rd lowest), but they also don’t swing very much in the zone (65.1%, 11th highest). Their ratio of Z-Swing to O-Swing is better than average, ranking 5th in the NL (2.34 “bad” swings for each good one).

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 on quality of contact, and the Phillies are at or near the bottom in both their line drive percentage, and their Hard hit ball rate.

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 team’s total baserunners. 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 just under the NL’s overall average of .241. Walk rate has dipped some, but is well over the average and still leads the league.

ISOlated Power is slightly above the average for the season to date.

MLB’s Longest HR Streak of 2018 Ends

When the Phillies failed to homer on Tuesday, it was their first homerless game since May 1st. That 16-game streak is MLB’s longest of 2018 so far. It’s also tied for second longest in franchise history:

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.

And look at that name on the right cresting above the crowd with the .325 wOBA. Carlos Santana has been much maligned among some fans after a slow start. He had been hitting the ball hard, but it wasn’t finding many holes. That started to change around when we turned the page from April to May, and it’s interesting to compare to Hoskins, as commenter Cyclic did in Wednesday’s game thread:

Mar/April:
Hoskins (116 PA): .985 OPS, 173 wRC+
Santana (122 PA): .571 OPS, 64 wRC+

May:
Hoskins (81 PA): .559 OPS, 56 wRC+
Santana (81 PA): .999 OPS, 167 wRC+

Odubel Herrera meanwhile has cooled recently, and he even lost the NL batting lead to Nick Markakis this week, .344 to .343.

The (New) Streak

Cesar Hernandez has gotten on base (via H, BB, or HBP) in 27 straight games, and with J.D. Martinez’s on base streak ending at 26 on Wednesday, Cesar now has sole possession of the second longest such streak of the season, joining Odubel as the two longest (Herrera also had four games at the end of 2017):

Pitching

As noted above, for the first time this year the Phillies now have the lowest ERA in the NL, at 3.36. However with 17 unearned runs allowed (6th most), in a tight race their runs per game allowed falls to 4th.

With two more Shutouts against the Braves this week, the Phils are 3rd in the NL with six (the Pirates and Dodgers have seven each).

They are also 2nd in the NL in Quality Starts, with 25, behind only the Nationals.

*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 (highlighted green if in the 60-79 range, dark green if 80+):

Miscellaneous

The TTO Team

There’s the prototypical slugger who most often either hits a home run, walks, or strikes out, i.e. the “three true outcomes” (TTO) that don’t involve fielders. And at a time when the three true outcomes are continuing their takeover of the game, the Phillies this year are more of a TTO team than any other in the NL. Below are the percentages of each team’s PAs that result in each outcome. The highest and lowest two in each category are highlighted:

The Phils are last in the NL in the number of groundouts and flyouts, with 7% fewer of those than the average team. Their TTO (home runs/walks/Ks) are 12% more than the average team. Or, looking at it in reverse, i.e. in terms of balls in play, the Phillies have put 12% fewer balls in play this year than the league’s least-TTO team, the Pirates.

RBIs vs. Walks

Low-walk hitters may not get on base as much, but they can often rack up high RBI totals since they tend to swing at everything. In the most extreme of these cases, over the last 60 years there have been 11 times when a qualifying hitter has had at least six times as many RBIs as walks (by 10 players, including Shawon Dunston who did it twice):

And if we disregard intentional walks (IBBs), we find the players with the biggest differences between RBIs and non-intentional walks (NIBBs), and two stand out as the most extreme:

Randall Simon, 2002 Tigers, 82 RBI/8 NIBBs, a 10.3 to 1 ratio
Shawon Dunston, 1995 Cubs, 69 RBI/7NIBBs, a 9.9 to 1 ratio

However a present-day Cub is blowing those ratios out of the water so far. Javier Baez leads the NL in RBIs with 38, and has only two non-intentional walks (along with four IBBs), for a 19:1 ratio. He’s actually been hitting worse with runners in scoring position (.196), so the RBIs will probably continue to come for him, but pitchers may start pitching around him more, with “unintentional intentional” walks, so we’ll check back occasionally and see how he’s doing.

Younguns

As a periodic reminder, the half-game-out-of-first, third-best-record-in-the-NL Phillies are the youngest team in MLB.

Using bb-ref’s average age, weighted by playing time...

1. they have the youngest hitters in all of baseball: 26.5

AND

2. they have the youngest pitchers in all of baseball: 26.9 (tied with Pittsburgh)

References

Phillies hitters (fangraphs)
Phillies pitchers (fangraphs)
Team hitting stats (fangraphs)
Team pitching stats (fangraphs)
Team stats (baseball-reference)