When the Phillies signed Pedro Feliz as a free agent after the 2007 season, they were hoping for the slugger who banged out 20-22 home runs in four straight years in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Giants’ frequently-renamed home ballpark. From 2004-07 in San Francisco, Pedro hit 22, 20, 22, and 20 home runs respectively.
The signing of Feliz was somewhat of a surprise, considering that he had seen his OPS drop in every season since 2004, from .790 to .717 to .709 to .708. What didn’t vary, however, was his defense. In those same years, his UZR/150 ranged from 14.3 to 31.7 and it was his primary source of value for the Giants.
In his two years with the Phillies, though, he has not been the guy they thought he’d be and yet he’s been about as valuable as he always was. He has not had the pop they expected, especially considering his move from a spacious ballpark to a “bandbox”. Even more mysteriously, his glove hasn’t been as valuable, with UZR/150 scores of 9.3 last year and 5.0 this year, the two lowest scores of his career.
Just as Feliz’s OPS dropped every season between 2004-07, it continued to drop in Philadelphia. Last year, he had a .705 OPS and his ’09 OPS is at .697. That isn’t a significant slip, however. There is only a .020 range between his best (2005) and worst (2009) seasons. As Pedro got older, the more he got on base and the less he hit for power.
That’s a good thing. As Cyril Morong stated at Beyond the Box Score, “OBP [is] about 53% more important than SLG.” Cyril then goes on to focus on specific lineup spots. Pedro’s #7 spot would make OBP about 25% more important than SLG. The offensive statistics agree with this: his ’08-09 wOBA is higher than his ’06-07 wOBA. While Pedro doesn’t have the pop we all hoped he’d have, he has made up for it by getting on base at a better rate thanks to increasing his walk rate and his rate of contact (which has also resulted in a higher BABIP).
Of the eight regulars, Pedro Feliz is the least valuable this season at just 1.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). However, Feliz has been consistent, and after years of worrying about the third base position following the shipment of Scott Rolen to St. Louis back in 2002, Feliz has allowed the Phillies to worry about other areas of the roster. Imagine if the Phillies had to worry about adding a third baseman at the trading deadline in either of the past two seasons or during the off-season prior to this season. Things probably would have been a lot different, and not for the better.