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Phillies Stat Notes: Live by the arms, die by the arms

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Pitching is what put the Phillies in the race, and what is now failing them

Summary

The Phillies statistically have settled firmly into the middle of the pack in the National League:

BsR = Fangraphs’ Baserunning Runs metric

The offense has fallen below average, with a bad batting average supplemented by a high (but declining) walk rate and above average power and baserunning (despite not much stealing).

The run prevention side (for the season as a whole) continues to be a combination of very good pitching, done in by the league’s worst fielding, which in the end mean that both ERA and total runs allowed are about average (runs allowed rank 10th but are exactly at the league average of 4.36 per game).

However a look at their first half-second half high level splits shows the pitching has been the bigger issue for the team’s struggles:

The run differential has gone from 0.19 to the good (not great, but at least positive), to 0.66 to the bad, or 0.85 runs per game worse.

Of that 0.85, 0.18 (21%) is due to lower scoring, but the vast majority — 0.67, or 79% — of the change is from giving up more runs. Some of that is surely the fielding, but that’s been a constant all year. The pitching that was surprisingly good is what had gotten them to the NL East lead, and its faltering of late is what has kept them from keeping up with the Braves.

Standings

The Phils are 4 12 games behind Atlanta, and are running out of time to make a run. FiveThirtyEight puts their chances of winning the division at 10%, while Fangraphs’ algorithm pegs them at 14%. Both sites give them essentially no shot (1-2%) at securing a wildcard spot.

Worth noting the Nationals have the much better Pythagorean projection, but have played nearly eight games below that so far. The Phils’ run differential is now -13, while the Nats are +70.

Runs vs. Average

The graph below shows Runs above average for each team in the NL, by each aspect of the game, as measured at Fangraphs.

For the Phillies:

Offense: -6 runs (i.e. worse than average)
- Below average hitting: -12 runs
- Above average baserunning: +6 runs

Run prevention: +21 runs
- Well above average starting pitching: +44 runs
- Above average bullpen: +13 runs
- Awful fielding (-36)

The net total is that as a team they’ve been 16 runs better than average:

Batting

Compared to last year and to the Nationals

The Phils are solidly below average for the season, 11th in both scoring (4.27 runs per game), and overall overall hitting (92 wRC+). Their low batting average (.237, 13th) is supplemented by walks, but they haven’t been walking as much lately either. As a result, their OBP, which had been at or slightly better than average for much of the season, is now 10th.

They are 5th in HRs per game, and their overall power is right in the middle of the pack, ranking 8th.

*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).

The Phillies are still second in the NL in pitches per PA (4.03), just behind the Dodgers.

However they’ve been notably more aggressive lately. After walking at a 10.1% rate in the first half (highest in the NL), they’ve walked 8.0% of the time since the Break, ranking 8th in the NL).

They continue to be dead last in both making contact (74.8% of their swings), and in the quality of contact when they do connect: they are last in both Hard-hit rate (29.6%), and Line drive rate (20.3%).

It seems that they are caught looking at the third strike an awful lot, and this isn’t included below but they are 5th in the NL in the number of strikeouts looking. However in terms of strikeouts looking as a % of all their Ks, they are about average, ranking 9th in the NL.

Progress over time

The graphs below show how some key stats have progressed. On the left is the weekly performance (with a dotted line showing the NL average for each one), and 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

Below are the Phillies hitters ranked by OPS, along with how they compare to the MLB average OPS at their position. To the right are their OPS over the last 30, 14, and 7 days.

Below is how each hitter’s OPS has progressed over time.

These graphs are very busy — start with the names to see how they currently rank, and then follow each line to the left to see how they got there.

The Runs Created stat, which has gone through various iterations, starting with Bill James in the 1980s, takes all of a hitter’s stats and estimates how many runs they should translate to. Fangraphs calculates a version of that called weighted Runs Created (wRC) which is a counting stat version of wOBA.

The table below shows wRC for each Phillie, by week.

Hoskins, Hernandez, Santana, and Cabrera all had good weeks last week...

Pitching

Phillies pitching leads the NL in WAR, and is now 5th in MLB

They are 3rd in the NL in WAR for starting pitchers (behind the Dodgers and Mets), and 5th in MLB.

And of course, the various stats all agree that the Phillies’ fielding has been really bad this season:

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.

If the 6.59 ERA for the starters isn’t enough indication of their troubles lately, they also only have one Quality Start in September, out of 10 games.

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

Team HR Streaks

It took almost all season, but a team finally surpassed the Phillies’ 16-game HR streak, when the Dodgers went deep in their 17th straight game yesterday:

The Phils’ streak is tied for second longest in franchise history, behind an 18-game streak by the 2008 team.

References

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