Unsurprisingly, my Phillies-Mets comparison got a lot of mixed reviews. I’d just like to add statistics to back up my claim that the Phillies have advantages in base running and defense, since I’ve seen a lot of people who seem to think that they’re actually advantages for the Mets.
I’ve harped a lot here about the Phillies’ +/- rating last season. It was at +74 last season; the Mets were at +43. That rating for the Mets is nothing to sneeze at — it’s very, very good. Their strength is in the outfield, particularly with Carlos Beltran. The Phillies’ defensive strength is in the infield, particularly the middle infield with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.
Numerous times I’ve said that that +74 should be expected to drop a bit in ’09 because, well, that’s freaking high. Add in that Utley is coming off of hip surgery — he may not be as mobile as he was last year, even though he did play injured for a majority of the season (my guess is that he was injured on Justin Upton’s slide attempt to break up a double play when the Phillies were in Arizona in May last year).
John Dewan recently wrote an article titled “What Makes Utley So Good?” Dewan concludes that Utley is usually in a great position to make plays. If his conclusion is valid — and I believe it is — then it’s not fair to label Utley’s fantastic defensive season aberrant. Sure, there will probably be a regression to the mean, but perhaps not quite as large as we think.
Here’s an overview of the 2008 season, using the +/- stats listed on page 72 of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009.
Middle Infield (Utley, Rollins; Castillo, Easley, Reyes):
- Phillies: +71
- Mets: -21
Corner Infield (Howard, Feliz; Delgado, Wright):
- Phillies: +7
- Mets: -11
Outfield (Burrell, Victorino, Werth; Tatis, Murphy, Chavez, Evans, Pagan, Anderson, Beltran, Church):
- Phillies: -4
- Mets: +75
As for base running, I’ll copy what I wrote in a comment on Baseball Think Factory:
Re: base running, the Phillies had six players last year who are returning in ’09 with an EQBRR of 1 run or greater. The Mets had seven last year, but only five are returning.
– Jimmy Rollins: 9.1
– Shane Victorino: 7.4
– Jayson Werth: 5.2
– Eric Bruntlett: 3.1
– Carlos Ruiz: 1.9
– Chase Utley: 1.2 (injury prone)
– Jose Reyes: 8.3
– Carlos Beltran: 6.3
– Luis Castillo: 3.7 (old, injury-prone)
– Angel Pagan: 2.6 (buried on depth chart)
– Endy Chavez: 2.2 (went to Seattle)
– Damion Easley: 1.5 (unsigned)
– Argenis Reyes: 1.2 (buried on depth chart)
EQBRR, which stands for Equivalent Base Running Runs, can be found at Baseball Prospectus.
Hopefully that clears up how I concluded that defense and base running are advantages for the Phillies. Feel free to comment if you disagree and have some insight to share.