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Phillies Stat Notes: Losing patience

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The Phils have gotten more aggressive at the plate, and Seranthony’s amazing start

After splitting the Dodgers series, the Phillies have the 4th best record in the NL, and if the season ended today they would be in the wildcard game, facing the Nationals.

Standings

The Phils remain in 3rd place in the NL East, but only one game behind the first-place Braves.

San Francisco has the 3rd worst run differential in the NL, with above average hitting (102 wRC+, adjusted for their park), but one of the worst pitching staffs in the league (4.98 ERA).

They’re doing better than their pythagorean projection though, and so have the same record as the Dodgers, four games out of first in the West.

Batting

The Phils are now down to 10th in overall hitting in the NL (wRC+ of 95).

However they are still hanging on to 4th in the NL in scoring (4.41 runs per game).

Whereas earlier on they had been much better at getting on base, their OBP and their extra base power (ISO)* are now both middle-of-the-pack, ranked 7th best in the league:

*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).

Their season stats still show them to be a very patient team: 2nd in taking the first pitch (75% of the time), 1st in getting to good hitter’s counts, and 1st in both pitches per PA (4.06), and walk rate (10.3%).

If we look more closely though, they’ve been trending much closer to the league average in recent weeks.

For example:

Pitches per PA through April 26th: 4.22 per PA
Pitches per PA since then: 3.92, just above the league average of 3.91

First pitch swinging through May 16th: 23.4% of the time
First pitch swinging since then: 31.6% of the time, which would rank 4th highest int the NL (league average is 28.6%)
More recently, over their last seven games: 35.9%, which would be the highest in the NL

Walk rate in April: 11.7%
Walk rate in May: 8.7% (league average is 9.0%)
More recently, over their last seven games: 7.0%, which would be the lowest in the NL

This is also illustrated below. The graph on the left is the weekly performance in each key stat (with a dotted line showing the NL average for each one).

The graph on the right is the cumulative season-to-date number. Batting Average and BB% together drive a team’s On Base Percentage, and Batting Average and ISO combine to form Slugging Percentage.

Batting — Individual

Odubel Herrera has gone ice cold over the last two weeks, but fortunately some others are stepping in: Santana, Williams, and Alfaro, in particular:

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

Pitching

Phillies starting pitching had the 3rd lowest ERA in MLB in the month of May:

Nationals 2.51
Astros 2.82
Phillies 3.00

The Phils’ staff has the 3rd lowest ERA in the NL for the season, while the Giants rank near the bottom in most major pitching stats:

*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, 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

On Base Streaks

The Phillies have the two longest on-base streaks of the season so far, with Herrera’s 41-gamer (plus 4 from the end of last year), and Cesar Hernandez’ 28. However at least Cesar’s is bound to be passed at some point. In 2017 for example there were six streaks of 30+ games. The first contender to step up is the TigersJeimer Candelario, who is up to 25 games:

Mitch’s Golden Sombrero

Mitch Walding had an inauspicious debut on Wednesday, coming to the plate four times, and striking out each time.

He is the first Phillie to ever strike out four times in his debut, and the 11th player in MLB history (at least since 1908). He is the 6th position player, and the first since Esteban German of the A’s in 2002, who needed 14 innings to get the four Ks.

Of the five previous position players, German is the star, compiling 1.6 WAR in 1170 PAs. The other four compiled these career WAR totals: -0.6, -1.2, -0.5, and -0.1.

Not to write off Walding’s career already by any means. Five MLB debuts is the ultimate small sample size.

Seranthony’s Start

Dominguez has been unbelievably good so far in his first 11 games: 13 23 innings pitched, and only two hits allowed. A third batter got on base but had to pay for it by getting hit a pitch (albeit “only” an 87 mph slider). Perhaps most impressive of all are his zero walks to go with 15 Ks.

Just how good is this start among the thousands of pitchers who have come up and dominated throughout baseball’s history?

Baseball reference’s Play Index tool is useful when counting up events at the start of a career, such as Hoskins’ HRs or walks, but it’s a crude one when you’re looking for a lack of things happening such as baserunners allowed (as David S. Cohen and I found when we were trying to put Seranthony’s start in context).

There is one thing we can see in the data: Seranthony has tied the all-time record for most perfect outings (8) in a pitcher’s first 11 appearances.

And he has pitched more innings in those games (10 1/3) than any of the other guys he is tied with -- 2nd most is 8 1/3:

Not to get greedy, but if Dominguez doesn’t allow a baserunner in his next relief appearance, he will become the first pitcher in MLB history with 9 perfect appearances in his first 12 games.

References

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