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Phillies Stat Notes: Now a half game out of first place

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It has been a rough stretch lately for the Phillies. Injuries up and down the lineup, struggles from the starting pitching, a road trip where they lost five out of seven to the Rockies and Mets, and a return home only to lose the series opener to the lowly Marlins.

And yet here they still sit, only 12 game out of first place in the NL East.

Before jumping into the stats, this reminder is still needed...

Small Sample Warning: It’s only been 25 games, and any such small sample is always going to have weird stuff going on. The way I would look at anything that’s based on only 25 games is that:

1) this is what has happened so far
2) both the good and bad is “in the books” and will impact the season overall, but...
3) we can’t draw any conclusions about what this means for the rest of the season

Summary

After a fast start, the Phils’ recent struggles at the plate have dropped the offense’s season-to-date numbers to the middle of the pack.

The pitching has been generally below average, not walking many but also striking out fewer batters than we expected.

After an encouraging start, the Phils’ fielding has settled into the below average range. Based on what’s still a small sample, while it’s improved from the tire fire it was in 2018, it’s still not particularly good.

BsR = Fangraphs’ Baserunning Runs metric

Standings

The NL East teams as a group have allowed over 5 runs per game so far, with a 4.69 ERA.

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 so far:

Offense: +8 runs (i.e. better than average)
- Somewhat above average hitting: +5 runs
- Above average baserunning: +3 runs

Run prevention: -8 runs (i.e. below average)
- Well below average starting pitching: -10 runs
- Above average bullpen: +5 runs
- Below average fielding: -2 runs

The net total is that as a team they’ve been right at the average:

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Batting

Compared to last year, and to the Marlins

The Phils are around the average in most key hitting stats, though slightly higher in OBP (7th), and lower in HRs per game (11th).

They lead the NL in pinch hit at bats, but are only 14th in batting average (.146), and last in pinch-hitting OPS (.384).

The Phillies have been less patient lately, with their Pitches per PA dropping to 5th in the NL, and their walk rate now 4th. Their strikeout rate has also gotten worse recently and is now 7th lowest in the NL at 23.1%, but at least that’s better than last year’s 24.8%.

However, similar to last year, they have not hit the ball especially hard when they do make contact: 12th in line drive rate, and 14th in Hard-hit rate.

On the bases, the Phillies are the least likely team in the NL to try to steal a base, and they haven’t been particularly aggressive at taking extra bases. However they’ve also had relatively few baserunning mistakes, having made the 2nd fewest outs on the bases in the NL, and so their baserunning overall ranks third in the league according to Fangraphs’ Baserunning Runs (BsR).

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.

The offense has fallen off a cliff in the first four games this week, with both batting average (.169) and walks (5.0%) plummeting.

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Batting — Individual

Other than Hoskins (.911 OPS the last 7 days) no one has been hitting very well lately, with only Harper (.814) and Franco (.796) around the .800 mark.

The table below shows wRC for each Phillie, by week. Runs vs. Average then compares that to the average MLB hitter, given the same number of plate appearances. And finally OPS by week:

Franco’s (lack of) K’s

There are 186 qualifying hitters in MLB, and of those 186, Maikel Franco has been the 5th toughest to strike out so far. He has always had very low K rates, but this year in the early going he’s swinging and missing less than ever.

Fun with tiny samples

If the rest of the season were to exactly mirror the first 25 games (including playing time), these would be some of the Phillies hitters’ final stats:

McCutchen: 39 doubles, 26 HR, 123 runs scored
Harper: 45 doubles, 32 HR, 97 RBI, 97 runs, 130 walks, 214 Ks
Hoskins: 45 HR, 130 RBI, 104 walks, 201 Ks
Realmuto: 19 HR, 110 RBI, 97 runs
Franco: 39 HR, 123 RBI

Also, if Segura does return this weekend, plays the rest of the season, and repeats his first 16 games (lots of ifs), he still has a shot at 200 hits.

Pitching

The bullpen has been above average so far: 6th in ERA, 4th in FIP, and 6th in xFIP.

Tom McCarthy mentioned this yesterday as if it was something important, and while it really isn’t, it is kind of interesting that the Phils are the only team in the NL whose starters have won 10 games to date.

In every other way, and really every meaningful way, their starters overall have been below average. Better than expected performance from Arrieta and Velasquez (and to a lesser extent Eflin) has been more than offset by the worrisome struggles of Nola, and Piveta’s failure to get any traction.

The various defensive metrics agree that the fielding is still not very good, though better than last year (it would be tough to be any worse).

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Pitching - Individual

In the first chart 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.

The second chart has a similar breakdown, but by Game Score.

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+).

Arrieta hasn’t always been sharp, but he still has as many Quality Starts (5) as all the other starters combined.

References

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